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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 1014 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I can understand why Kansas are not to many prog lovers' taste. Progressive rock is essentially European (though not exclusively English) in origins and atmosphere, and Kansas' music shows clear American influences. Of course, there's the country-flavoured sound of Robbie Steinhardt's violin, but the whole scope of their music feels different from that of English and Continental prog bands. Take Steve Walsh's voice, for instance: he's one of the greatest singers in the genre, and his performance on "Leftoverture" is nothing short of stunning - however, his singing style is quite different from other prog greats. His voice soars with clarity and power, but it can also sound a bit too melodramatic to ears accustomed to, say, Lake or Richard Sinclair's quintessentially English delivery or Gabriel's brooding intensity.

That said, though, "Leftoverture" is without any doubt a great album, possibly Kansas' finest hour. It blends true-blue, progressive moments with lots of strong, memorable melodies, heavy guitar riffs and sweeping, romantic violin interludes, magnificent vocal interplay from Walsh and Robbie Steinhardt and uplifting lyrics, not as cloyingly preachy as Livgren's output would become in later years. It is a complex record which is at the same time quite easy on the ear, unlike its follower, the equally excellent but somehow darker "Point of Know Return". Hit single "Carry On Wayward Son" has a very catchy chorus, but some beautiful instrumental passages lurk behind its apparent accessibility. The album's highlights , however, besides the largely instrumental "Magnum Opus" (the most traditionally prog track on the record), are the melodic, majestic "The Wall" and especially "Miracles Out of Nowhere", which boasts some of Steinhardt's best violin playing, great vocals by Walsh and heartwarming lyrics. Even though in the '80s they became a run-of-the-mill AOR band with strong confessional leanings, the contribution of Kansas to the development of American prog rock cannot be neglected. Together with Rainbow, they should also be mentioned as the forerunners of Dream Theater's brand of prog-metal. "Leftoverture" may not be an essential masterpiece of prog music, but it's more than certainly an excellent, highly recommended addition to anyone's collection.

Raff | 4/5 |


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