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Kansas - Song For America CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 699 ratings

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3 stars Profession of faith.

By the time, it was not an ode to Livgren's yet to show up Christian faith but more a declaration of love to the Nature and the land of America, coupled with a warning to the damages that the human race could cause them. In a way, the beginnings of pro-ecology protest songs, mixed with some kind of genuine and naive pacifist nationalism. At least that's how I picture it from my contemporary European window .

Coming back to the music itself, this second album in Kansas prolific and brilliant 70's discography has always been a bit hard to digest for me as a whole. Despite the absolute brilliance of the title track, representing IMHO the best American answer to the hegemony of the European prog rock scene of those days, the album lacks cohesion, splintered between three heavy rockers and three symphonic epics that interfer in an improbable series. This lack of cohesion can also be noticed inside two of the epics, "Lamplight Symphony" and "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman", getting me lost sometimes.

Despite those minor flaws, there are a lot of good things to be found on this album.

The opener, "Down the Road", is a fast-paced tune with some southern rock flavours but also with the immediately recognizable Kansas trademark, I mean this furious interplay between guitars, keyboards and violin. The song is pretty much in the vein of the "Bringin' It Back" cover from Kansas first album and, as far as I am concerned, it rocks, making me snap my fingers and tap my feet.

Of course, as the first notes of "Song of America" resonate, you realize that you're entering a league of its own, this epic overshadowing everything else on the album. Which, seen from a progressive point of view, goes against the choice of "Down the Road" as an opener. But I suppose that in 1975 a ten minutes song didn't look like the best way to hook the American listener. Anyway, there are not enough superlatives for "Song for America" ! Just listen to it and -hopefully- you will understand.

"Lamplight Symphony" is a different story for me since it's probably my least liked Kansas epic. The first half is very good, carried by Walsh's crystal clear voice, but I would have stopped it at the 4'00 minutes mark, or at least erased the one-and-a-half minute long instrumental passage that is amongst the only unmelodic moments produced by the band in its original line-up.

"Lonely Street" also fails to convince me. It's one of those dark, heavy and bluesy tunes that the band has produced. Very well executed with some very nice guitar licks and solos but blues has never been my my cup of tea.

"The Devil Game", on the other hand, is really a favorite of mine. An uplifting rocker with a stunning second half, full of great riffs and solos. From the 2'20 mark till the end, it's just pure fun !

The closer, ""Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman", was probably the most ambitious Kansas song to be recorded to date. Pure Livgren poetry. Though, despite some great moments, including the first moving minutes carried by Walsh's voice, a brief guitar solo at 4'30 and a long and unusual drum solo, "confused" is the word that comes to my mind. And the last minute is an acquired taste that will not appeal to everyone. Again, I think that the song would really have benefited to be cut at the seven minutes mark but I guess that this will appear as a sacrilege to most Kansas fans !

At the end of the line, despite of all the love and strong memories that I have for this great band, I can not rate Song for America higher than three stars (let's say 3,5). It's a good album, no doubt about it, but the perfection was still two albums and one year ahead .

Bupie | 3/5 |


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