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Kansas - The Ultimate Kansas CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 33 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Whether this is actually the 'ultimate' Kansas collection depends mostly on what you consider to be essential to an ultimate collection of a band's music I suppose. If you're looking for some of their most memorable songs and fan favorites, then this is a pretty decent assortment. If you are a casual fan or someone who is just looking to get all the band's hits in one place you may be in for a bit of a disappointment, especially if you discovered Kansas sometime after their heyday of the mid- to late-seventies.

All the early obvious hits are here, including "Carry On Wayward Son", "Dust in the Wind", "Point of Know Return", "Hold On", "Portrait (He Knew)" and even "People of the South Wind", a dear favorite of older Kansas fans like me who grew up in that state and were touched by the fan tribute inherent in its lyrics.

But for later fans of the more mainstream side of the band you'll quickly notice a few omissions, including two of their Top-40 eighties hits "All I Wanted" and "Stand Beside Me". Good riddance as far as I'm concerned, but in the interest of full disclosure the absence of these hits needs to be called out. "Lonely Wind" which was the only single from the multi-platinum live 'Two for the Show' is also missing which surprises me just a bit. And "Reason to Be" which was the other single along with "People of the South Wind" from 'Monolith' (and probably the best song on that album) is also absent. This is an Epic release and was restricted contractually to the Kirshner segment of the band's catalog which explains why the MCA recordings from the eighties are missing, but doesn't account for the 'Two for the Show' and 'Monolith' slights. I suppose the reason these were left out was to make room for some of the earlier and longer non-single tracks like "The Pinnacle", "Song for America" and "Journey From Mariabronn" which I wholeheartedly agree had to be included in anything with a label of 'Ultimate Kansas' on it. Still, neither disc is longer than seventy-two minutes so those songs could still have been added; I guess I've no explanation why they weren't.

Everything is from the original studio recordings, but they're all remastered so the sound quality and clarity of the music is quite excellent. That said, all of these songs are available on their remastered reissues as well, but if you want them without having to purchase nine different records this is a pretty good way to go.

This collection was reissued under the title "Essential Kansas 3.0" by Sony a couple years ago and for about the same price you can get a third disc that includes six more very solid songs from the Walsh / Livgren days before everything went sour, plus "Got To Rock On" which is another single that was left out of the first release. If you're going to add this to your collection I strongly suggest the Sony version over the Epic one.

Nothing new here, but not a bad collection if you want to pick up most of their key songs and hit singles in one fail swoop. Personally I'd encourage you to check out the 1994 Sony boxed-set instead, or even better 'Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection' which includes an awesome DVD in addition to many of these songs and at least one from each of their albums released between 1974-2000. But if you insist on this one you probably won't be disappointed, and on the whole it rates at least three out of five stars for being pretty (but not completely) comprehensive as well as quite well engineered.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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