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Kansas - Two for the Show CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 208 ratings

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Symphonic Team
5 stars Mysteries and mayhem

The two studio albums Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture are among my all time favourite albums and I have rated both of them with the highest possible rating. This live masterpiece album was released in the wake of these two studio albums which, of course, was the optimal time for the band to release a live album. However, it is not the tracks from Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture that are the highlights here in my opinion, the studio versions of these songs were impossible to top. No, it is older songs like Song For America, Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steal, Journey From Mariabronn and Lonely Wind that really stand out here. All of these songs are marked improvements over their original studio versions and the idea of making a live album at this point allowed the band to put these older classics in the same context as some of their best newer material, creating the ultimate Kansas live set. The existence of this live album now allows me to elevate these older songs to the same rating as the material on Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture, even if the studio albums they originally came from (Kansas, Song For America, Masque) were far from masterpieces.

Another highlight is the eternal Dust In The Wind that is here enhanced with an excellent acoustic guitar solo which together with the beautiful Lonely Wind works as a great counterpoint to the often intense and loud material on much of the rest of the album.

To my knowledge, there are three different versions of this album: the original double vinyl, a remastered CD and a recent, re-remastered CD with an extra disc of bonus live material. The first CD release had to drop one of the songs (Closet Chronicles) from the original vinyl to be able to squeeze the album onto a single compact disc, while the recent 2CD version offers the complete program plus an abundance of extra live material. This new version is re-remastered by Jeff Glixman who produced Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture and is the version with the best sound and the most material. However, it might perhaps be too much material? The bonus second disc, while containing some of my favourite songs of all time, is clearly not as good as the first disc and it is rightly considered as a bonus disc. My masterpiece rating is primarily directed at the original program but with the sound quality of the 2008 re-remaster. If you rip both discs onto your computer, you can program it to hear the album this way (which means the first disc plus Closet Chronicles from the second disc).

However, as I said, the bonus disc also has some great material that will please any Kansas fan. But most of these songs are better in their original studio versions and are thus not essential. I could have done without songs like Lonely Street, Bringing It Back and Down The Road which brought down albums like Song For America in the first place. Also the drum solo in The Spider is quite dispensable (as most drum solos are on live albums - as opposed to live videos where they sometimes are highly enjoyable).

While this live album can never replace the studio masterpieces Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture, I think that Two For The Show is the optimal third Kansas purchase and a great place to discover older Kansas classics like the songs I mentioned above. The 2008 re-remaster by Jeff Glixman is the preferred version to have because of improved sound quality and completeness (but stick to the first disc on the first couple of listens in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material).

This is one of the best live albums of all time! Highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 5/5 |


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