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Kansas - Somewhere to Elsewhere CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 272 ratings

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4 stars I had been really surprised with their last original studio album (already five years old at the time of this release). It brought me back to the Kansas of my heart. The melodious and rocking one. Forgotten these useless AOR moments. A violin was brought back again in the line-up, and everything changed. The surprise here is that, we have two legendary members on board again : Livgren and Steinhardt. Shall we get a great Kansas album again ?

Like King Crimson in "Three Of A Pair" in which he created a new part to "Lark's Tongues In Aspic", Kansas regenerates "Icarus" from their third album back to ... 1975 and delivers "Icarus II" here. It has little to do with the mother song but it is a nice rock and violin oriented piece of music. It is a nice wink to ancient times and since I am rather nostalgic of that era (my youth, you know) I am quite emotionated. It is in line with what "Freaks of Nature" had provided. The Kansas sound, so typical and identifiable. It is quiter now than when they used to deliver crazy intrumental passages but still it is very nice.

"When the World Was Young" is on the heavy side during the intro. It is a simple rock song. A bit poppish though. The chorus still is really catchy. At the end of the song, there is an excerpts of an old song for a few seconds, but I do not remember which one, Alzheimer I guess ! (thanks to Garion81 who mailed me the answer : it was a part of "Magnus Opus").

"Grand Fun Alley" is a heavy-funky rock song. One of the weakest of this album. During the last two songs, the violin is almost unnoticeable. "The Coming Day" renews with the smooth side of Kansas. A wonderful piano introduction for this brilliant rock ballad. A very pleasant violin break (at last) and a symphonic passage in the middle part rejuvenates me. It makes me thirty-two years younger (at the time of this review). I just love it. Period.

An old number which was never released so far is :"Myriad". One can feel it is an early song : the intro is a clone of "Song For America". But since it is one of my preferred song, I do not complain (it was maybe even written before, but I do not know that). Since it one of the longest number, it was the opportunity for Kansas to deviate a bit from the pop sound of this album. During the traditional intrumental section, one will even get the impression that he listens to ELP. Lots of keys there ! The more conventional guitar break will follow to transport us again in the glory Kansas days. Very nice feeling I must say. Even Walsh's voice is on par here (which will not be always the case on this album, unfortunately). This beautiful track ends up like it started. The best song here (at least to my taste). "Look At The Time" is also a more complex song. Some Oriental influences in the instrumental part makes it rather original. I must say that the vocal parts are not really great. They sound a bit childish and too poppy. Rather strange combination. But definitely another good prog moment.

"Disappearing Skin Tight Blues" opens brilliantly : a cristal clear piano and violin makes you believe you'll enter again into Kansas's paradise but as the title should have warned you, after less than a minute, the mood totally changes and offers a heavy blues track. I can swallow some blues (Led Zep, Purple, Joplin) but I have a hard time with this one. Especially that after another minute, the chorus starts and is really awful. After three minutes or so, the song is repeated from its debut. Very strange. To be honest I only moderately like it. Actually, so far it is my least preferred song.

The next one "Distant Vision" has also all the past grandeur of the band. Almost clocking at nine minutes, we'll get a long and wonderful instrumental intro (you know like during "Song...") : rather sophisticated I must say. Subtle and light as well as powerful at other times. Brilliant intrumentals during the middle part as well of course; but isn't it a Kansas TM ? The finale is just fabulous. Another highlight, for sure.

"Byzantium" starts with a nice choir part. As the title indicates, some Oriental flavour as well are to be noticed. The combination though is a bit akward. The weakest track of the album (IMO). Since the album is very long, they could have dropped it easily. But there were times during which finding only one weak track on a Kansas album was a miracle (of nowhere). So, let's not be too critical.

The closing number is again a long composition (the third one here). It is a heavy number lacking a bit of "texture". Some punch is there, we'll get some nice keys as well but it sounds too monotonous during these 8'39". I liked Kansas while they were hard-rocking but we are far from a song like "Lonely Street" for instance.

During a too brief moment (twenty seconds or so), the song will really take off but to better fall again in this boring tempo. A big disappointment. I guess all fans were expecting another epic to close this very good album. The end of the track is just silent for about forty seconds. It is just to hide a last short song. Like usual this "hidden" track does not bring anything to this album.

IMO, the Kansas come back was "Freaks of Nature". This one is a nice continuation. When I saw that Steinhardt was back again, I was really thrilled but I must admit that, to my taste, the violin parts are too scarce (which was not the case on their previous work). I also had hoped that Livgren would bring more strength in terms of songwriting.

This album requires a careful attention. You might miss a lot of it if you are just distractly listening to it while doing something else (driving for instance). At least it is my feeling and I recommend you to concentrate a bit on this very nice album while having a spin. It really deserves it. I would have rated this album seven out of ten but I will temporarilly upgrade it to four stars.

To date, it is the last Kansas studio album. There will be a lot of compilation and live albums after this one. It is then time to be very thankful to Mr. Livgren, Walsh, Steinhardt and Ehart (who will never leave the band). You were part of my youth, and I rediscovered your nice work some five years ago with a lot of enthusiasm. Some blunders during your long career, but I promise : I'll never listen back to these poor albums and will only remember the so many good ones you have released.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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