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Kansas - Song For America CD (album) cover

SONG FOR AMERICA

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 432 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Australian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Song for America" is arguably the first progressive rock album from Kansas, I however disagree with this statement as the band's debut, "Kansas" is just as progressive as this here album. "Song For America" also got Kansas well and truly rolling in both popularity (although still very moderate at this point) and also musical complexity and style. Songs like "Lamplight Symphony", "Song For America" and"Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman" are all testaments to the wonderful progressive nature of the band. Other songs such as "Down the Road" take a more conventional approach and are distinctly less complex and intellectually challenging, but are no less enjoyable.

The album is really carried along by guitar and keyboard extraordinaire Kerry Livegren who took part in the writing of a majority of the album. Steve Walsh is another great contributor on this album, not only in the writing but also in the keyboard and vocal department. "Song for America" was released in February of 1975 and it sold an initial 250,000 copies and charting at number 57 on the US billboard charts. The album went Gold (500,000 copies) five years later in 1980.

The album opens with the fast-paced "Down the Road" in which Rob Steinhardt takes the limelight with is aggressive yet effective violin. The song is focused around the drug trade in America and it talks of a drug dealer escaping from a man whom he is in debt to. The instrumental interlude to the song is very catchy and will hook you back for more.

The Title song, "Song for America" comes next and it shows how far the band had come from "Kansas." The song strangely enough is about America and its history, focusing specifically on the arrival of colonizers and the puritan's reaction. The rest of the song is quite confusing, but the instrumentation is great none the less. For this very reason, "Song for America" is a splendid track, trust me.

"Lamplight Symphony" is probably the most progressive song on the album because of the very symphonic set-out and the use of synthesizers and other such instruments. The song seems to be about a guy's disembodied wife who he sees in a vision as he stares at her grave. At the end of the song he works out that one day they'd be as one. The song features a positively amazing instrumental interlude with steady bass and violin solos among other things.

"Lonely Street" starts off with a very soft swing melody with vocals over the top before erupting into a sort of hard-rock song. There is a lot more guitar than usual in this song as it better suites the type of song the band was attempting to achieve with this track. The song takes a much more conventional approach than the other pieces and it may be intended to bring you to familiar ground, so to speak.

"The Devil Game" to me mixes the previous two songs together as it borrows a symphonic feel from "Lamplight Symphony" and a hard-rock one from "Lonely Street." The song is very up tempo and in parts focuses on the union of guitar and violin as the two instruments seem to compete with each other. This track prepares one for the next piece.

"Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman" is the last and longest piece on "Song for America" which focuses very heavily on symphonic prog as well as the display of the members' talents. In addition, the song also changes in time and mood many times and features extended instrumental section, one which reminds me of "Bohemian Rhapsody", oh well. At about minute 5 the music gets really interesting with a good old fashion analogue synthesizer solo. Very good song!!

1. Down the Road (4/5) 2. Song for America (4/5) 3. Lamplight Symphony (5/5) 4. Lonely Street (4/5) 5. The Devil Game (4/5) 6. Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman (5/5) Total = 26 divided by 6 = 4.333 = 4 stars (very close to 5)

In summary, "Song For America" is one not to me miss, and if you manage to get your claws on the remaster version you'll get a very crappy single of "Song for America" and a great live version of "Down the Road", everybody wins! I'd recommend this album to all symphonic fans, and please don't ignore this band!

Australian | 4/5 |

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