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Kansas - Two for the Show CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 230 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ****DISCLAIMER*******

This review is in two parts because we are not allowed to put multiple entries of an album in the archives no matter what has changed. The first part of the review deals with the 20th anniversary release in 2008. The second is my original review of the album some 4 years ago. My recommendation to you if your are going to purchase this album make sure it is the two disk 2008 release and don't be fooled over a cheap used copy of the original on ebay.

Good Then Fantastic Now

Before the 1977-1978 world tour based on the release of Point of Know Return Kirshner Records decided what they needed was a live "greatest hits" package so they recorded several shows along the tour. The first release was a good mix of songs to have a double album of live material which was in vogue in the 1970's. The first package captured about an hour and fifteen minutes of the nearly 3 hour show. It had a lot of great Kansas songs on it and was skillfully recorded and mixed.

Then in 2005 rumor from Sony Legacy (now owner of the Kansas catalog) was going to remaster this package finally. It was to restore the dropped song, Closet Chronicles, that wouldn't fit on the original CD release and maybe have a few bonus tracks. Then the payoloa judgment came and Sony decided to shelve the idea because of the cost. Enter 2008 the 30th anniversary of this classic and Sony finally puts it back on the list of things to do. Except this time when they went and checked the master tape they found 11 songs recorded from the tour never released. As Phil Erhart bemoans in the liner notes "I can't believe that they were sitting on this material for 30 years". To Sony's credit they decided to mix, master and release the entire 11 songs adding another 1:15 to the package time. They created a great package with the original artwork but also new liner notes in booklet format with brand new picture as well. In that they have created a whole new release not a re-release.

Also to Sony's credit was to bring back Jeff Glixman, Kansas master producer of their greatest albums, to handle the mix of the bonus disk and the remaster of the original disk. Gilxman true to form turns this live package into one the best CD's of Kansas history. First of all the raw material of the live recordings are exactly as Kansas recorded them on the particular night. No overdubs, no pitch corrections wyhiwyg (what you hear is what you get). Second this is Kansas at the top of their game i.e. the musicianship is in top form. Glixman takes this material and makes it soar. The dual guitars and dual keyboards are clear as a bell on both CDs. He even makes it point on disk two to mix it so Kerry Livgren's guitar and keys are the on the left side of the mix and Steve Walsh and Rich Williams keys and guitar are on the left. It truly is spectacular even if you don't really care for the music. All live recordings could look to this re-master as the blueprint on how to create a live sound.

The actual set lists comes from two different sets Kansas played on that tour. The first one through the US tour had a longer set because they didn't usually have a supporting act on that portion of the tour. That set started with Song for America and ended with Magnus Opus. The second part of the tour they did have opening acts and had a shorter set list by at least 40 minutes. That portion of the tour they opened with Hopelessly Human and ended with Sparks of the Tempest. All of those songs are here in this package so this isn't a representation of an entire concert but really a good package of the whole tour parts A and B. Since this was the Point of Know Return Tour it isn't a surprise that 8 tracks of that CD are present throughout the two disks but all 5 albums have a strong presence here with Leftoverature with having 6, 4 from Song For America, 3 from Masque and 4 from the first Self Titled. The thing that really stands out here are the speed which some of these tracks are played. Much faster, sometimes ridiculously so (Belexis), than the studio counterparts. All the styles are represented from the ultimate prog of SFA, Hopelessly Human, Magnus Opus, Icarus and Miracles Out of Nowhere to the hard rocking blues based rock complete with extended solos Down the Road, Child of Innocence, Lonely Street, Bringing it Back to the ballads of Dust in the Wind and Lonely Wind.

Anyway if anyone asked me what is Kansas like, I wouldn't think twice to hand them this collection. Truly a masterpiece of this bands classic era legacy. If only Yes and ELP would take their great live collections with the same treatment as this collection is now.

I gave the original 4 stars I have to give this one for sure 5 stars.

***Original Review from 5/19/2004 of the original one disk release***

Live albums are basically a snapshot in time of what group sounded like at a point in time. What they fail to capture is the visual aspect, the sound of the arena or the perception of the audience. This recording was the best sample of Kansas on the Point of Know Return tour; the group at their height of popularity. Having the pleasure of attending two of the shows on this tour I can say this is a good recording. It is not Kansas live, live recordings cannot replace going to a show even DVD's cannot replicate the experience. This album suffers from the lack of sophistication in recording equipment. The vocals suffer from too much touring that year as this was a world tour starting early in 1977 and ending in 1978.

I read in another review that Kansas was not dynamic live. That statement is the furthest from the truth. Having two keyboardists at times, at times two guitarist, violin, good bass and great drums and add to that two unique singers, this bands was nothing but dynamic. Other bands refused to tour with them because Kansas would blow them off the stage.

This album while not the best recording is a good record and considering when it was made it is a great live album. I would put this in the same class as Welcome Back by ELP, Yessongs by Yes, Bursting Out by Jethro Tull and Seconds Out by Genesis. Compare it to these others that came out in the same era and I think most people would agree. The Mysteries/Lamplight Symphony/The Wall medley is worth this collection alone. 4.25 Stars

Garion81 | 5/5 |


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