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Kansas - The Ultimate Kansas CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 33 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is exactly what it says it is, ''The Ultimate Kansas''. All the songs have been remastered for the highest possible quality and they feature the very best of the KANSAS catalog in a refreshingly potent and aurally intoxicating way.

KANSAS blazed a trail for all the prog rockers that came after them with their free spirited lyrics and adventurous musically complex arrangements. They hailed from Topeka, KANSAS, and their chances to succeed were against all odds. Their tremendous success is what makes their legacy that much more interesting and incredible. So it's not only the music that tells the story, it's the band and the individuals that made the music that completes this fantastic circle of emotions and sound.

I don't think you will find a better collection of KANSAS at their peak, and that includes the previously released boxed set. There are 26 tracks, no fluff or filler, just primo prog-rock found in each and every track. How many groups can put out a two CD Best Of set without one dud on it? Not many, trust me. Appropriately, their most recognizable song besides "Dust In The Wind," "Carry On Wayward Son," leads off this marvelous two CD set. And everything else that follows is equally gripping and exhilarating. One of the best one-two-punch rock vocal duos ever known paired Steve Walsh, who also played keyboards, and Robbie Steinhardt, who gave the group a definitely progressive flavor with his vigorous electric violin, gave their music unrivaled emotion and body. And the prolific writing talents of Kerry Livgren, who also played a mighty guitar, were major cogs in the KANSAS music machine.

"What's On My Mind" is my favorite track, I find it irresistible, and it's very hard not to sing to, it's a real rocker with deep and meaningful lyrics. In fact, all of the KANSAS songs have a lot of meaning; there is a two fold reason why so many people enjoy their music. It's not only the sounds, it's the subject matter of the songs that people can relate to their own lives that makes it so appealing. "Portrait (He Knew)" has to be one of the most thought provoking rock songs ever recorded; it's about Albert Einstein, which I never knew. If you listen closely it really hits the mark. "Sparks Of The Tempest" is another rocker that I always loved with mythology and an ancient civilization as the stage.

Reflecting upon my own history listening to the group, I found ''Monolith'', ''Leftoverture'' and ''Point Of Know Return'' to be the strongest material of their career. Although all their music was great, these are the three albums I remember most.

The last track is a live version of "Magnum Opus," and what a rocking and powerful version it is. I have had the pleasure to see the group live in 1983 and then most recently on July 7th of this year. If you listen to this and get excited about catching them live, that's a good thing. Please remember that they are not the same group they once were. They were good, but nothing like they were when all the original members were together in their prime.

If you need a good introduction to this group this is a great place to start, then work your way back through their catalog. If you happen to have every release, this would be nice to have all of the best packed into two discs rather than skipping around looking for your favorite songs. That's something that I never do actually, I listen to the entire album straight through, especially when it's a great prog-rock group like KANSAS. You really have to pay attention to each and every song so you don't miss anything, there is always so much going on.

Your search can now come to and end for the ultimate package, this is it. Unless of course they release a more comprehensive boxed set with a lot of rarities and live tracks. You never know...

Muzikman | 5/5 |


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