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Kansas - Somewhere to Elsewhere CD (album) cover

SOMEWHERE TO ELSEWHERE

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.50 | 272 ratings

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arcer
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Those of us who had completely given up on Kansas rediscovering any impetus after the travails of their '80s work (other than being an effective covers band of their own classic material) will get a wonderfully pleasant surprise with this 'reunion' album which sees Kerry Livgren rejoin the fold for a single outing. Quite why they chose this moment to saet aside all the difficulties that had led to the original split between he and Steve Walsh in the early 80s is anyone's guess - as is just why it took so long for them to set those differences aside in pursuit of good music. Maybe, as usual, it was simply cash ;-). Whatever the reasons this is the best thing the band had done since Monolith. Livgren handles the writing duties as he did in days on yore and the album benefits from that. Walsh was always the more straightahead rocker of the chief writers in Kansas and for progheads the presence of Livgren as writer in residence is to be welcomed. That said it's not all plain sailing. The bar band blues-based workouts that were the roots of the band still rear their slightly ugly heads in ther shape of the pretty pointless and badly punning Grand Fun Alley (grand finale, geddit?! oh dear) and Disappearing Skin Tight Blues. But apart from those moments of tedium, when the reformed Kansas hit the mark, they do it with all the panache of old. The affecting balladry of The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis), the extended workouts of Myriad and Distant Vision, the great pop prog of Look at the Time and the solid rock of When the World was Young. And then there's my personal favourite - Byzantium. Kicking off with medieval sounding choir, it gives way to a lovely eastern strings and acoustic guitar riff and Walsh's sweet vocal which really hits the mark on the upswing of 'did you golden domes reveal, the frailty of the consequence' line. A drop into a repeat of the verse motif sets up the chorus perfectly and when the drums kick in, it's the highlight of the album. The only shame is the song clocks in at the short, short, short four minutes. There seems so much more to this song, so much that could have been done with the kind of instrumental interlude Kansas perfected on their early albums. It would have benefited from an extended strings and guitars workout after the second chorus, maybe with the kind of monosynth solo that slotted in so well into tracks like Song for America. Instead we get a few verses a couple of choruses and then a fade out with more choir. A missed opportunity for sure. Still it adheres to the old adage of 'always leave 'em wanting more'. And Somewhere to Elsewhere aschieves that. It is very flawed, there are four or five standouts from a total of 10. Not a massively convincing strike rate. But the good stuff's great and for Kansas fans, like me, who quit after Audio Visions, believing Kansas to be a spent force, this is a very welcome reminder that the good ones never lose the touch, they just out of touch for a while. Well worth a listen.
arcer | 4/5 |

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