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KANSAS

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 374 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

stefro
Prog Reviewer
4 stars American progressive rock outfits often get rough treatment, especially from the sniffy Brits(of which this reviewer is one) yet despite producing only a handful of progressively-inclined groups during the genre's heyday the music has often been excellent. The likes of Journey(with their first three hugely underrated albums) Styx, Starcastle and Kansas were no doubt influenced by the British set and for a brief while during the 1970s these four groups created some wonderful 'Americanised' albums, blending hard rock riffs with arty elements and slick musicianship. Undoubtedly the creative leaders of the pack, Kansas started life as a struggling bar-room act before finally getting their chance with this 1974 release. A self-titled effort featuring a picture of Civil War hero John Brown gracing the cover, this is essential progressive rock from a supremely-talented bunch, their skills honed whilst performing in the rough 'n' ready blue-collar bars of small town North America. With Robby Steinhardt's violin adding a unique edge, Kansas' sound manages to be complex, rootsy AND hard rockin', with layers of keyboards, stinging guitars and powerful vocal harmonies adorning an energetic clutch of carefully-crafted songs. Opener 'Can I Tell You' kicks things off in style, Steinhardt's grazing violin riff proving impossibly funky over Steve Walsh's blues-pumped guitar riffs and Kerry Livgren's Genesis-inspired keyboards, whilst the fiendishly intricate mini-epic 'Journey From Mariabronn' finds the budding group knee-deep in complex art-prog territory, the track's mystical lyrics exploring Livgren's pre-Christianity fascination with ancient religious themes. Polishing off a terrific album are two more lengthy pieces, with both the oddly-titled 'Apercu' and the majestic power-prog of the multi-part 'Death Of Mother Nature Suite' proving Kansas' undoubted instrumental chops. From beginning to end, and all the way in-between, Kansas' debut - an album that proved a commercial misnomer upon it's initial release - manages to skilfully blend disparate elements, mixing American pomp and British indulgence into their own highly-original brand of anthemic rock. Fans of the North American set probably already love this; those who have yet to taste the delights of Kansas are urged to do so. Very, very impressive, this ranks alongside Journey's 1975 debut, Starcastle's self-titled debut and Styx's 'The Grand Illusion' as one of the defining albums from the old U S of A's golden prog period

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

stefro | 4/5 |

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