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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover

LEFTOVERTURE

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.21 | 684 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Rock Progressivo Americano

Here it is, the classic Prog album by the popular American rock band, Kansas. While highly regarded, there's still a lot of debate whether if this is actually Prog Rock or not. I tend to consider this as a lighter Symphonic Prog in the vein of Triumvirat, but Prog nonetheless, influenced by Genesis, a bit of Gentle Giant and some AOR band. What's the result? Well, it's a clever and catchy Symphonic Prog with equal number of complex passages as straight-forward rock ones.

Not sure if this thought shows part of my craziness or not, but Leftoverture reminds me of Premiata Forneria Marconi's Per Un Amico; an album that strongly resembles the grandiose British Prog bands, yet there's not an actual rip-off and the musicians are actually able to compose and play equally(or better) as those from Britian. However, there is a flaw, but not in the music itself if not in my mind/ears: having listened to the U.K. bands way before these other Symphonic Prog groups, I can't help but think of 'x' British band when listening to the music of both, Per un Amico and Leftoverture. Also, there's this coincidence that both, Kansas and PFM, play Symphonic Prog including a violin player, not something common for the British Symphonic bands from the time, but that's not something that harms the music quite the opposite, it adds more diversity. Anyway, besides that similarity between PFM and Kansas, the music of both is pretty different, notable difference being that PFM sounds closer to something by an Eclectic Prog band with classical influences.

Mind you, I won't let that harm the rating of this review, though my personal discomfort when listening to Kansas can't be denied. To that I can add my dislike for Steve's vocals, he's too American (cheesy) for my taste, though his voice is undoubtedly a unique ingredient in Kansas' music. Fortunately, the quality of the compositions that is present in Leftoverture makes me able to enjoy the band quite a bit in spite of the vocals, unlike with Song for America which I found the songs pretty average though with certain inner potential.

Now, let me bring back again Triumvirat to the review since you probably were thinking what the hell does the German "ELP clones" have to do with Kansas. While Kansas definitely don't show Emerson, Lake & Palmer as an influence, Kansas does have Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh playing very similar kind of keyboards as those which Jürgen Fritz played. These keyboards sound 'thinner', less exciting, not a phenomenon like those marvelous Moog's or alike the Mellotron or like the classic B3 Hammond-Organ utilized by the British; surely the reason why the overall sound of these bands is not as powerful as that from Yes, Genesis or ELP. Anyhow, that's not necessarily a negative critic, just an aspect that I hear from Kansas that clearly differentiates them from the classic Prog bands.

So, which are the highlights from Leftoverture? All 8 songs are equally strong, in my opinion, different of course, some are straight-forward rock like 'Carry On My Wayward Son' and 'What's On Your Mind', but those still are inventive and as memorable as the more elaborated pieces such as 'Miracles Out of Nowhere', 'Cheyenne Anthem' and 'Magnum Opus'. The entire album features Kansas in their peak, instrumentally and composition-wise, the guitars rock hard, the violin adds that new dimension, the keyboards are fine despite their 'thin' sound and the rhythm section does a good job.

Leftoverture is undeniably a Symphonic Prog album recommended for all the fans of that genre, but I don't think it's a masterpiece of the genre since it's not something entirely unique neither mind- blowing nor a spine-chilling experience, but still worthwhile. However, I recommend you to buy the classic Symphonic Prog albums released prior to Leftoverture first, like Fragile, Trilogy, Foxtrot, et al. If you're going to get one 'Prog' Kansas album, get this, that's for sure.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |

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