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Kansas - Two for the Show CD (album) cover

TWO FOR THE SHOW

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.31 | 250 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
5 stars 'The best bands sound even better on stage!'

In 1977 24-carat symphonic rock 'biggie' Genesis was voted 'the best live band in the world' in Melody Maker, one of the leading UK music magazines in the Seventies. On the other side of the ocean 6-piece formation Kansas had added an extra dimension to that highly acclaimed symphonic rock, by adding swirling classical violin and hot rocking electric guitars. Their story looks like 'The American Dream In Prog'. Because Kansas started as hard working rookies playing gigs in local pubs and driving day after day down the road, in an old van. Gradually they climbed the ladder and in the end Kansas became rock stars with triple platinum albums sales, top 10 singles, sold out concerts in stadiums, and they were driven around in limousines. Kansas got their well deserved commercial breakthrough with their fourth album Lefoverture (1976), and the single Carry On Wayward Son. One year later sales were even better with theirt fifth album Point Of Know Return, and Kansas deliver a worldwide hit with Dust In The Wind. So while Genesis was hailed on the other side of the ocean, in the USA Kansas their unique, very exciting and dynamic blend of classical, hardrock and symphonic rock was embraced by millions and millions! They started a massive 1977/1978 world tour and In 1978 the band released a double live LP entitled Two For The Show, recorded during their USA tour. This has always been one of my favourite live albums, a powerhouse progrock band playing their best songs. In 2008 Kansas released the Two For The Show 30th Anniversary 2-CD reissue: on CD 1 the entire TFTS 2-LP, except Closet Chronicles, that had been put on CD 2, among 10 previously unreleased tracks from the 1977-1978 USA tour.

CD-1 : Kansas their trademark is the outstanding interplay between the Holy Prog Trinity: harder-edged guitars, swirling violin and powerful keyboards, embellished with strong vocals and a dynamic, often propulsive rhythm- section. Well, on stage this sounds even more powerful, dynamic and exciting. Another very strong element in their music is the huge variety, in atmospheres and instrumentation, a few examples. Mini-symphonies in the mid-long compositions (between 4 and 10 minutes) Song For America, Journey From Mariabronn, Excerpt From Lamplight Symphony and the mindblowing Magnum Opus: lots of shifting moods, build- ups and grand finales featuring awesome interplay by the Holy Prog Trinity, spectacular soli on swirling violin, heavy guitar and vintage keyboards (from powerful Hammond runs to dazzling Minimoog flights), topped by strongs vocals and a dynamic rhythm-section.

The 'chart-flirting' composition Point Of Know Return : song-oriented melodic rock with a tight beat and functional work on guitars and keyboards.

'Classical meets hardrock' in Mysteries Of Mayhem : heavy guitars, bombastic Hammond, exciting interplay from the Holy Prog Trinity and raw and powerful vocals by Robby Steinhardt.

'Unplugged' in Dust In The Wind : wonderful dreamy atmosphere with acoustic guitars, violin and warm vocals, culminating in a virtuosic acoustic guitar solo (with hints from Steve Howe).

A sparkling classical piano solo, as an intro to the strongly build up Lonely Wind : from mellow to bombastic, topped with beautiful, slightly melancholical vocals.

Another Kansas trademark song is their huge hit single Carry On My Wayward Son : from tender piano and vocals to bombastic, halfway a spectacular break with a heavy guitar ' and Hammond sound.

CD-2: Apart from the track Closet Chronicles, this second disc contains previously unreleased 1977-1978 USA concert footage, according to the 12-page booklet 'somebody at Sony found it in the vault'. In fact this means that all tracks were 'left-overs' from the Two For The Show double album in 1978. Indeed, in general these 'left-overs' sound slightly less elaborate and varied than on CD 1. And on CD 2 the focus is also a bit more on harder-edged melodic rock, with a tight up-tempo beat and hot rocking guitars, like in Child Of Innocence (heavy guitar intro), Belexes, Down The Road (trademark Kansas with exciting Holy Prog Trinity) and the swinging Bringing It Back (omnipresent dynamic violin work). And the track Lonely Street is even bluesy, with strong vocals and an exciting duel between the two guitars.

But Kansas also delivers their trademark captivating and varied mini-symphonies, like Hopelessly Human (cascades of soli), the emotional Cheyenne Anthem (wonderful instrumentation and a compelling grand finale), Miracles Out Of Nowhere (vocal harmonies, a 'churchy' Hammond solo and great work by the Holy Prog Trinity) and Closet Chronicles (lots of good musical ideas, like a vibraphone-Minimoog duet). These four compositions could easily have been part of the original Two For The Show live album, as side 5 and 6, completed with Lonely Street and Down The Road, as the best work of the CD 2.

So where to put this Two For The Show 2-CD reissue? Well, for me it's simple, among other great Seventies Heavy Prog live albums, like Made In Japan from Deep Purple, Live by Uriah Heep, Exit Stage Left by Rush and The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin, what a power, quality, variety and excitement, and that's what genuine progressive rock is about. By the way, Kansas on TFTS cannot be compared to their later (Eighties) AOR sound, that was more similar to Styx, Journey, Saga, Asia and Boston, here it is unique Heavy Prog (74-78 era)!

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |

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