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Kansas - Audio-Visions CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.04 | 266 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I think we're still in KANSAS. Their balloon was always half-inflated with hot air anyway, so a shift in balance from prog to pomp, rock to pop, is less striking than it might have been. Yet the scales have slipped in favor of pedestrian music, notably on the songs written by STEVE WALSH ("Got To Rock On", "Back Door", "Anything For You"). The old magic resurfaces in spurts on KERRY LIVGREN's contributions, though some may find their enthusiasm tempered by overtly Christian themes. It's nice that Livgren's pursuit of the godhead is "Relentless", but not everyone will share his enthusiasm. "Hold On" is enjoyable outside of its religious context, and thus made a fine choice for a single. And yet it isn't until halfway through "Audio-Visions" that the band kicks up some progressive dust with "Curtain of Iron" (which presumably speaks to a religious reawakening in Eastern Europe). The ship rights itself by album's end, thanks to substantive songs like "Don't Open Your Eyes" and "No One Together", but it's still no match for "Leftoverture"'s leftovers. Now that riding on the prog bubble no longer elevated their status, acts like KANSAS abandoned long-winded instrumental passages in favor of what would come to be called arena rock, a label that included Uriah Heep and Styx among others.

Few prog bands enjoyed the courage of their convictions and commercial success in the '80s, though it's possible that KANSAS had simply outlived its original purpose (apparently WALSH felt so, leaving after this album). Whether the motivation was evolution or economics, artistic compromise or commoditization, "Audio-Visions" suggests that KANSAS had passed the point of no return as it pertained to prog.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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