Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Kansas - Song For America CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 671 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars Firstly, I have to say, I love Kansas. They are the band that truly put the 'rock' in 'progressive rock'. Containing both of Kansas longest two songs, 'Song For America' is the finest example of them at their most progressive. The music is rich, exciting, interesting and all the way through has the unmistakable Kansas rock feel. The choice of album title is a little clumsy, since there is obviously more than one song on the album. I feel the omission of the album title from the front cover was definitely a wise decision, as the bold Kansas logo with the dark, sinister eagle is their most striking album cover in my opinion.

-Down The Road- The album starts with a song that is only 3:44 in length. Poor form for a prog album, maybe, but in fact those who don't believe a good prog song can be less than 4 minutes will be very surprised indeed! At the beginning you'll be led to believe that this is going to be your average 4 minute rock song. However, the song turns around and surprises you as after just one verse, the band launch into a high pace instrumental that lasts nearly 2 minutes! And this isn't just a fun sounding jam either, it is really quite complicated, with well thought out guitar solos and band orchestration. Another verse follows, and after the outro plays, you will be actually quite impressed at how good that little song is!

-SONG FOR AMERICA- As I mentioned earlier, the album has a rather clumsy title. It seems to do no more than suggest that 'Song For America' is on the album, as if Kansas were trying to say 'Listen to this song!' However, you would not blame them for trying to do so, because this song in all its 10 minute glory, is not only Kansas's best song (in my opinion), but one of the most satisfying, balanced, thoughtful prog songs ever written. In true prog form, it starts with a beautiful three minute instrumental highlighting themes that all reappear later in the song, giving it a very whole feel. When the lyrics start, you can hear that it truly is a 'Song For America' as it recounts, simply but eloquently, America's past, how very peaceful it was before settlers came from Europe, and how we have 'scarred' the 'paradise' that once was and made our own paradise. The instrumental in the centre of the song, is also very progressive, having an extended section in 9/16 or 9/8 (depending on how you count notes). Everything is perfect with this song, and you feel the band aren't trying to impress you with pyrotechnics as in the first song, but instead give you a definite feel of maturity and sophistication whilst giving a truly powerful environmental message.

-Lamplight Symphony- This song suffers from being too often compared to the track that precedes it. True, this song fails to pack quite the punch that the last song gives, but this doesnt mean that its a bad song at all. In fact, besides the rather airy feel to the keyboards that I don't particularly agree with, and the peculiar lack of guitar (especially for Kansas), this song isn't really that bad. As the song's title suggests, this track has a very symphonic feel to it, with a nice chunky instrumental to enjoy between the two bouts of lyrics. The lyrics appear to detail a tragic love story, which I have never really focused on before. Certainly not a song to overlook.

-Lonely Street- Not to be confused with 'Down The Road', this opener for Side 2 of the album is one of the most peculiar songs to be heard in the Kansas catalogue. Very different to anything they've done or before or since, this song has a very heavy blues feel to it (albeit in a sneaky 11/8 format). Keen to show they are not just a one trick pony (as if we needed any proof), Kansas present us with a truly melancholy song about a man who goes to prison and comes out after 20 years. In fact, the lyrics are extremely edgy and a parental guidance sticker on this album wouldnt be surprising! 'That a black man was a dead man if he crossed my trail' and 'Caught on the street raping some old whore' are just instances of how ugly some of the imagery is. If you thought that by having a 10 minute song about the environment made the band at all wimpy, this song would surely set the record straight.

-The Devil Game- For those of you expecting a 100% perfect album, prepare to be disappointed. This song is surely one of Kansas's more obscure songs. The song, whilst having no obvious faults, has nothing particularly special about it, and is rather unmemorable. It is still worth listening to with it's high-energy guitar-filled rock sound, and unmistakable Kansas time changes. However, this song has a real air of 'filler' about it, and just fails to make a significant impression.

-Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman- At 12 minutes, we reach Kansas's longest song, which makes you wonder what would have been if they'd had a go at actually writing a sidelong epic. Unlike the title track, there is hardly anything mature or balanced about this song, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Like most amazing prog songs (eg 'Firth of Fifth' or 'By-Tor') the song has the winning formula of (short lyrical part) followed by (MEATY INSTRUMENTAL) and then topped off with (short lyrical part resembling the first part) which is followed by an outro. For example, in this song, the lyrics stop at around 2 minutes, and then only start again at about 9 minutes. The instrumental is really progtastic, my favourite part being the roughly 90 second drum solo towards the end. The outro is stunning as well, very harcore rock, quite similar to the finale of '2112' by Rush. The song, and so the album, ends with a bang, quite literally!

Overall, this album is simply stunning. While it has it's weak moments, Song For America has a range of highlights that not only make it Kansas's best, but also one of the greatest early American prog albums. After this, they would never quite have the same creativity again.

baz91 | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this KANSAS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives