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Kerry Livgren - Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut CD (album) cover


Kerry Livgren


Crossover Prog

3.80 | 13 ratings

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4 stars At the turn of the century, Kerry Livgren experienced a prolific period of musical creativity. Thinking much of the music was suited for his musical alma mater, as it were, he contacted Phil Ehart and the band agreed to record a reunion album. The band had their choice of the songs, and so the brilliant Somewhere to Elsewhere was born. The remaining pieces found a home as a Livgren solo project entitled Collector's Sedition. Years passed, though, and Livgren decided that the recordings (elaborate demos, he called them) needed to be upgraded with proper musicianship and mastering, effectively given the treatment they deserved. Hence, the "Director's Cut" portion of the title. This album is a precious jewel; when I first received it in the mail, I greedily tore into it, knowing I was about the hear what was essentially the second half of my favorite Kansas album. As it is, I regard it as the pinnacle of Livgren's solo career. This comes highly recommended.

"Am Juengsten Tage" Stunning strings set a breathtaking mood, like the grand opening of a cinematic masterpiece. Halfway through, it becomes very similar to "Byzantium," from the aforementioned Kansas album, boasting a majestic palette of Near Eastern sounds. The title is German for, "On the Last Day."

"On the Air" My favorite track on the album, this has a straight ahead rock groove for verses with a great vocal melody. The chorus is stellar, having a gorgeous melody and strings to compliment. While I would have loved to have heard Kansas's interpretation of this one especially, this piece sounds very close to what Proto-Kaw has done this decade. The heavy middle section likewise lends it that impression.

"The Sentinel" Acoustic guitar and piano dance gracefully under thoughtful and meditative lyrics. Musically, this piece sounds like an extension of that gorgeous middle section of "Distant Vision." A powerful bridge in 5/4 leads into a gloriously symphonic instrumental passage.

"Hindsight" This straightforward song has heavy pop leanings and is solidly performed. Fortunately, there are some symphonic touches in the upbeat middle section. The instrumental ending is rather unbefitting, and the chorus is on the cheesy side, however.

"The Navigator" Livgren treats listeners to a peaceful, acoustic song that would be right at home just before the sermon in a small rural church. It has country and bluegrass flavor due in no small part to the Appalachian instrumentation, all while retaining a substance similar to "Reason to Be." And then a bluesy, David Gilmour-like guitar solo adds another dimension.

"No More Time For Love" This is a rocking blues number similar to "Grand Fun Alley," just more upbeat and heavier. The bass and harmonica are outstanding in this context. Of course I have a suspicion that Livgren pens this ditties for an opportunity to cut loose and show off his chops on the fret board, which he certainly does during the middle.

"Safe Alone" Adding even more variety to the album is this one, which is more in the vein of a 1990s R&B / party song. In that respect, it sounds like a cut from the Kansas album Vinyl Confessions. It has a busy sound, with funky guitars and brass.

"Cold Gray Morning" Not all of the songs were pieces not selected for Kansas's 2000 release and relegated to a Livgren solo project; fans of the band will recognize this as the only Livgren-penned song on Freaks of Nature- a fantastic album in its own right. I honestly have a difficult time deciding which version I prefer. It is one of the more symphonic tracks on the album, and is given a bold treatment with some mighty fine guitar playing.

"As It Should Be" This instrumental almost smiles in its jubilance. There's exquisite organ, brass, electric guitar, fabulous bass work, competent drumming, and an acoustic guitar chunking out the chords in the background.

"Red Money" Here is another gritty number. This has a real Stevie Ray Vaughn smokehouse blues flavor, though. This is a second opportunity for the songwriter to just have some fun and jam.

"At Every Turn" This transitory piece features one of the best vocal performances on the album. It becomes complex very suddenly, however, with gorgeous feminine vocal counterpoint and a beautiful melody.

"The Man With An Iron Heart" A blend of symphonic and blues, this piece has a static rhythm for the most part that makes up the bulk of the song. Livgren has a fantastic guitar solo at the end. I liked this song a lot for some reason when I first heard it, but its lack of dynamics makes it depreciate just a little with each listen.

"The Dragon" Music suited for the climactic battle between a sword-wielding hero and the titular creature abound in this piece. Livgren engages in a spirited guitar solo- one of his best performances on the album.

"So Ends The Show" This ninety-second conclusion is reminiscent of a pompous Styx song.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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