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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover

LEFTOVERTURE

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 682 ratings

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VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
5 stars In my humble opinion this is one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever recorded. With this album Kansas finally hit their peak of self-actualization: their albums before were very good but often unbalanced or lacking cohesion, and their albums after were very good but definitely took on a more commercial sound. With Leftoverture, however, they find their sound at its most perfected. Amazing melodies and catchy hooks intersect with progressive rock to create songs that are just as easy to appreciate for their instrumental mastery as they are to sing along to.

"Carry On Wayward Son" should need no introduction. True, this song is tremendously overplayed, and listening to the band play it live these days is kind of depressing since it's fairly obvious they're completely sick of it after having to play it at every show for 30 years straight. That said, it's still a fantastic song. The hooks are fantastic, the solos are astounding, and the vocals are breathtaking. I'm not going to talk too much about this song because I'm assuming most everyone has heard it at least once, but if you haven't, rest assured that it lives up to the hype it gets. It's great.

"The Wall" follows up the famous opener in a more introspective vein. Though it's perhaps a less anthemic song than "Carry On," it's no less energetic or powerful, with spectacular guitar work and a flawless Steve Walsh vocal performance on an album full of flawless Steve Walsh performances. With lyrics about overcoming personal demons and wailing, emotional guitar parts to match, "The Wall" is a powerful song that's also incredibly strong melodically. Steve Walsh's soaring vocals at the end of the song never fail to send shivers down my spine.

"What's On My Mind" is another very interesting song, beginning again with some excellent guitar work. When the vocals come in, however, the song takes on more of an AOR sound before switching into the hard rock chorus. It's a bit of a bizarre combination that works surprisingly well; a testament to Kerry Livgren's compositional prowess. I would have to say that it's probably the weakest song on the album; however, when a song this good is the weakest on the album you know you've got something special.

"Miracles Out of Nowhere" is, in my opinion, one of if not the best songs Kansas ever wrote. The music blends together keyboards, guitar, and violin more seamlessly than perhaps any other Kansas song, and every melody, every word, every note work perfectly together to create a song that's undeniably prog-rock but can nonetheless get stuck in your head if you're not careful. Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh trade off vocals to great effect and the final product is truly something magical (or perhaps miraculous?)

"Opus Insert" is a song that doesn't get talked about too much, and for the life of me I can't figure out why not. The track begins with some mysterious sounding synth sounds before vocals enter, backed by a bombastic instrumental part. The chorus is equally great, and when Steve Walsh belts it out the final time you realize that you're listening to one heck of a vocalist. "Opus Insert" may not be the rock anthem that "Carry On Wayward Son" is, but it's still a great song and one that I think would sound great live; pity it seemed to be so rarely played.

"Questions of My Childhood" is one of the few songs on the album to have Steve Walsh co- listed as a writer, but despite his reputation on some of the later Kansas albums of writing more "commercial" songs, this one fits in perfectly on the album. Heavily featuring keyboards, "Questions of My Childhood" is probably the most cheerful song on the album, or at least the most optimistic. I also think it's lyrically one of the strongest on the album, and of course Walsh delivers a stellar vocal performance.

"Cheyenne Anthem" is another criminally under-talked-about Kansas song, with rather tragic lyrics told from the perspective of the Native Americans and expansive, orchestral music to match. Obviously this is another very emotional song, and again Steinhardt and Walsh switch off on lead vocals to great effect. The pacing of the song is brilliant as well, starting off subdued, building intensity, dropping back down and finally exploding in a burst of orchestral grandeur as the song ends.

"Magnum Opus" finishes off the album. If I'm not mistaken this is the only song that is credited to all five members of Kansas, with the story being that they each wrote a section and then put it all together. If that's actually the case then I'm quite impressed, as the song flows very well. The track is mostly instrumental (there's one brief section with vocals), and features all of the band members demonstrating their incredible command of their instruments, as well as the tightness of the band as a whole. A great finish to a great album.

If you've never heard Kansas before then Leftoverture is absolutely the place to start. This is one of those albums where every song is fantastic; there is zero filler and no poor songs. Thinking about it, I've probably listened to this album more times than almost any other, and I can still listen through the whole thing without skipping any songs or getting bored.

In my eyes at least, this is a masterpiece.

5/5

VanVanVan | 5/5 |

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