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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 1045 ratings

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4 stars Heartland prog, which is to say earnest and even evangelical in tone but ultimately a flat facsimile of the genre's musical nooks and crannies. KANSAS had created a dialectic interpretation of what was originally a European phenomenon, adding country elements that included twangier vocal harmonies, fiddling and "bible belt" sentiment to prog's mystical soup. At its best, this music rocked and resonated simultaneously; look no further than the opening "Carry On Wayward Son" to see where "Leftoverture" works. It's in this hard-rocking, semi-mystical music that KANSAS found an audience, and tracks like "What's On My Mind" and "Miracles Out of Nowhere" were themselves influential, lighting the way for arena rockers Boston, FOREIGNER et al. At this stage, however, KANSAS was still borrowing elements from past masters -- bits of GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT and ELP pop up throughout. Rarely do they paint the sublime plateaus of GENESIS, the apocalyptic battles of ELP or the impossibly tight arrangements of GENTLE GIANT, but KANSAS remains in the ballpark of magic most of the way. The appropriately titled "Magnum Opus" especially manages to leave the earth in pursuit of higher learning, and is a journey Rush fans will enjoy. The music that remains is very good, from the Lamb-like "The Wall" to the inflated but impressive "Opus Insert".

Just as the early music of RUSH succeeded more on moxie than method, "Leftoverture" is clearly good enough to seduce even jaded prog purists over time. True, compared to the English masters, "Leftoverture" is lyrically na´ve and its complexity more bluster than brilliance, but so few bands took up the torch and got this far running with it that KANSAS deserves more credit than criticism.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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