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Kansas - Freaks Of Nature CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.23 | 195 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars This has to be the most under-rated album ever! Okay maybe not, but seriously (sorry to invoke a Phil Collins album), this is seriously under- rated stuff! At least the good old boys of can rate a bit above 3.

Although by now Kansas had become a dinosaur artifact that couldn't see the light of the charts, in fact they had pretty much done their best to try and stay current, well, not really, but it's not as stuck in the 70's/80's as you might think.

Steve Walsh's vocals are a lot more raggedy sounding, quite strained, but it works in a way, like he can really invoke feelings quite well.

At the end of the 70's, early 80's, Steve Walsh shunned progressive rock and fancied himself as a mean hard-rock machine, even leaving Kansas and starting his own 'hard- rock' band, "Streets". His hard-rock career was not as successful as he would have liked. He reformed Kansas in the late 80's, a more MOR-sound coming through during this stage. This reformed Kansas is also a commercial disappointment. Along comes "Freaks of nature" in the mid 90's and this is the only time when the other members showed as much interest in progressive rock as Kerry Livgren.

Actually, this album is full of hard-rock tunes that are generally heavier than classic Kansas, even getting a near-metal sound on some songs. This is contrasted with a mysteriously dark atmosphere and quaint classical music leanings. David Ragsdale is a much more aggressive violinist than the original member, Robbie Steinhardt, forcing his way into the mix as often as he can, making sure his violin comes through loud and clear. The keyboards aren't particularly stunning but this album has all the signals of a great prog album, and with a heavier sound than Kansas usually has. The songs have very strong hooks and memorable choruses.

There are a couple of changes of pace, notably, the country-ballad "Hope once again" and the acoustic closer "Peaceful and warm".

I think there could have been more variety and the overall feeling from beginning to end is quite bleak and heavy-hearted, there could have been more changes of pace. But still a good one, especially when late period Kansas is considered.

Brendan | 4/5 |


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