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Kansas - Freaks Of Nature CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.22 | 228 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Maybe it was low expectations on my part, but "Freaks of Nature" jumped out and grabbed at me at first listen. The first two tracks are very tight powerful prog rock songs very much in the tradition of classic Kansas. There's no doubt these musicians are seasoned professionals and that this band has a synergy few bands achieve.

From the moment the album starts, with a strange sort of electronica interrupted abruptly Williams edgy rhythmic guitar introducing "I Can Fly," it's clear the band has come to impress. It's a powerful weaving of the member's powers-Walsh's imploring singing style, Williams' taught, harmonic-laced guitar attack, Ragsdale's commanding and soaring, tastefully-conceived violin lines--not to mention the Ehart's and Greer's rock solid drum and bass accompaniment and Robert's keyboards.

The power doesn't let up with "Desparate Times." A high powered showcase of the band in its current incarnation. The album at this point segues into a more Walsh-oriented set, but the musical arrangements and solo parts, while somewhat confined by the singer- songwriter genre, are still compelling and worthy of many repeated listenings. Livgren contributes a song, "Cold Grey Morning," a rather bleak medititation on the current state of the American soul, that the band renders into a sonic gem.

And as to the ongoing matter of whether this Walsh-centered Kansas is better or worse than the classic Livgren/Walsh Kansas material, all I can say is the tight prog arrangements are here. The excitement of the guitar/violin solos are here. And Walsh's songs do lend themselves to the prog rock treatment. It's clear the band isn't trying to slavishly recreate "Leftoverture" or "Point of Know Return;" instead, they are trying to create a more compact sort of compelling rock. And they rise to the challenge. Sure there's a couple of "mainstream hit" oriented songs, but there has been on all their lps, including Leftoverture and POKR.

On a side note: I recently saw Kansas live and was absolutely blown away. I now have a new-found admiration for these guys, who keep faithful to the sound and ethos of this special type of prog rock. They are a one-of-a-kind band.

bluetailfly | 4/5 |


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