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Kerry Livgren - Seeds Of Change CD (album) cover

SEEDS OF CHANGE

Kerry Livgren

 

Crossover Prog

3.49 | 24 ratings

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slipperman
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A low 3.

Released in 1980, this was Kerry Livgren's first excursion outside of the Kansas machine, and it resembles his band's output of the time: one foot in watered-down radio rock and one foot in dramatic American prog. The variety of musicians is impressive: among others, fellow Kansas men Phil Ehart, Steve Walsh and Robbie Steinhardt, and Jethro Tull drummer Barriemore Barlow. But it's Ronnie James Dio who steals the show here. Between gigs in Rainbow and Black Sabbath, both the Dio- led songs, "Mask Of The Great Deceiver" and "To Live For The King" show the man's amazingly nuanced, controlled, powerful delivery. The songs are the only darker spots on the album, and Livgren shows excellent vision hiring a throat of Dio's stature. Well done.

Musically, things remind of Kansas' 'Monolith', and unfortunately their more pop- drenched efforts like 'Audio Visions'. I also hear some Genesis in the grander, more symphonic elements, somewhere between 'And Then There Were Three' and 'Duke'. Indeed, Livgren lays down as much synthesizer as he does guitar, and he masters both. But the album fails in its lack of consistency. The aforementioned Dio-sung tracks are spellbinding, not only due to Dio's top-notch effort but Livgren's guitar/synth work and sensitive songwriting. "Down To The Core" is an interesting crawler, with vocals from one Davy Moire that remind of a more serious Frank Zappa in pitch and delivery. And while "Ground Zero" promises much at 8:30 minutes, it loses its way and remains pretty dull despite gorgeous synth layering and Steve Walsh-esque vocals from David Pack. Speaking of Walsh, not even his gilded throat saves "How Can You Live" from its Foreigner-bright pop disposition. And I guess I should mention that this song, like all the other tracks, carries a heavy Christian message, but they're going to have a try a lot harder than weak show-tunes like "How Can You Live" to make a believer out of this atheist. Equally inane is throwaway blues plodder "Whiskey Seed'. Finally, opening track "Just One Way" rides on a strong verse reminiscent of 'Point Of Know Return'-era Kansas (a good thing) and goes all wrong with its blow-dried AOR chorus (yep, a bad thing).

Sounds are rich and full, with Livgren reeling off great guitar leads and synth lines throughout. But if it weren't for the tracks featuring some of the most emotional Ronnie James Dio singing you'll ever hear, this would be less than interesting. For Kansas/Proto-Kaw fans, it's a great addition to the Livgren reference library, but it's hardly a masterpiece.

slipperman | 3/5 |

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