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Kansas - Song For America CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 643 ratings

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4 stars It's been said that Kansas was a formulaic band that mixed a boogie-woogie sensibility with rapid-fire violin playing and touches of Yes and Genesis influenced synths. Sometimes on songs like Down The Road, it's hard to argue that Kansas were just recycling their own sound.

At other times like Song For America, Kansas are just a law unto themselves. What a stunning masterpiece of a song! It's one of my favourite ever Kansas tracks and this is a band with lots of goodies. It's got everything, wonderful lyrics and singing from both Walsh and Steinhardt, an atmospheric organ and piano driven intro, offbeat rhythms, synth leads, numerous dynamic changes and the songwriting has evolved even beyond the first album's already admirable standards. Whenever I listen to this song it's clear to me that Kerry Livgren was one of prog-rock's great unappreciated songwriters.

Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman is the other great epic of the album. From it's majestic string-laden opening,low-key vocal section and fluttering synth leads that sound like a flute there's more than one King Crimson influence at work, but then the organ and violin come in, and a lengthy, interesting (but not always enjoyable) synth solo takes the song loads of places including the Spanish territory that was explored on the first album. Near the end of the piece there's even time for a brief Phil Ehart drum solo, but I must say I feel it runs out of steam a little towards the end of its 12-minute running time.

Lamplight Symphony is another highlight, although I don't think it's as good as the two prog epics. It's got a dramatic synth opening, and is largely a moving ballad with rippling piano lines, darker moments with heavy guitar and an eerie synth solo another one with thoughtful shifts in mood. Then there's Lonely Street, a heavy, occasionally plodding blues tune with hardly any progressive moments, but still some nice stretches for the underrated Rich Williams to shine. The Devil Game is a nice mix of shorter complex hard rock that foreshadows Carry On My Wayward Son, but I must admit I don't enjoy it quite as much. In fact, I actually marginally prefer Kansas' eponymous debut to this one, but the presence of Song For America tends to even things out. ... 74% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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