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Kansas - In The Spirit Of Things CD (album) cover

IN THE SPIRIT OF THINGS

Kansas

Symphonic Prog


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scottadams964
5 stars A frankly astounding record. For their MCA Swansong the band teamed up with legendary producer Bob Ezrin to create the best Kansas album since Leftoverture. The breadth of vision apparent here is immense, from the evocative, Walsh-led opener Ghosts to the crashing epic grandeur of the massively underrated Bells Os St James this is, quite simply, genius. And it sunk without trace. One of the all time great crimes of popular music. Every Kansas fan, or in fact every music fan, should own this album.
Report this review (#21905)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I've been listening to mediocre music all morning, so why stop now? Not that "In The Spirit of Things" had a ghost of a chance of finding me charitably disposed toward histrionical hair metal anyway. I don't think producer BOB EZRIN knew what he was getting into with KANSAS. Whatever artistic credibility they might have once laid claim to had long since departed this world, leaving behind a band desperate to make another big record. That's where EZRIN comes in: he makes "big" concept records with a flair for melodrama. And that's fine when the artist you're working with isn't too eager to oblige (PINK FLOYD, LOU REED). But when BOB's given free reign (e.g., this pretentious piece of plastic, ALICE COOPER Goes To Hell), the results can be deadly. Apparently, he managed to convince KANSAS that a collaboration would yield a big statement, something about the end of the world in a small town. They didn't even need to write all the material, just feign integrity and make a lot of noise. It's not a matter of "In The Spirit of Things" being a bad record, it's actually offensive. There are musicians who genuinely care about their music (seems to me KANSAS used to be one of them), and all this sacless strutting through '80s metal ("House On Fire") and put-upon sincerity ("Ghosts", "Once In A Lifetime") is an awful flimsy excuse to engage five otherwise talented musicians. Any number of faceless bands could have made this record, but the alarming thing is I don't even think you need musicians to make this kind of music. Just punch up the right buttons, splice in some electric guitar squalls, blend some human voices into a faceless composite, and distract your audience with the pretense of a story that might contain characters you care about. In a better mood, I'd point out that "I Counted On Love" is a fine arena rock ballad. That's one good song, in case you're counting, and it didn't even show up on the elpee and cassette releases (four tracks were "added" to the compact disc, which I guess is the only way to get the whole story). Anyway, I'm going to wash this miserable experience from my memory with some Yes (last time I listened to this disc, RUSH did the trick) and bury it (case and all) in the backyard before the ground freezes.
Report this review (#21906)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Definitely not in the traditional vein of the "classic Kansas sound". In the Spirit of Things was made in the late '80s, a time where '70s classic rock music simply wasn't happening... Notwithstanding, Kansas managed to come up with one of its best, yet more under- appreciated gems. Steve Walsh's soulful and pasionate singing combined with Steve Morse's guitar wizardry really made ITSOT a marvelous opus.

As an additional bonus the recording sound is almost perfect. The overall production quality is so high that one can really crank the volume up and the sound will still remain crisp and powerful.

Regardless of what other reviewers might say against it, In the Spirit of Things is an album capable of reaching deep emotions... to me, that is what music is all about!

An absolute must have.

Report this review (#21909)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was forced to write a review of this album due to the horribly inaccurate and unjust reviews by others. Truth is, this is a great Kansas album and a rather unique one in their catalog. Though it doesn't have key band members on it, such as Kerry Livgren or Robby Steinhardt, the remaining musicians more than take up the slack. In fact, the double- guitar approach (faithful member Rich Williams and guitar god Steve Morse) works great, and gives some extra force to the music at times. And other band mates Steve Walsh, Billy Greer, and Phil Ehart continue to provide the foundation that is uniquely Kansas.

I'll admit that there are a few songs that veer a bit towards ballads, but even they are worthwhile, with a good sense of melody. Certainly they are much better than the songs from the John Elefante era. Overall, the sound is very big, with big production, giving the songs more life than than on earlier Kansas albums. Producer Bob Ezrin deserves much credit for that. He also provided some of the songwriting on the album.

Heavier songs on the album include House on Fire, and The Preacher. As a bonus, the photos and liner notes are more interesting than normal. I'd put this in the Top 5 albums by the group.

Report this review (#21911)
Posted Friday, December 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is equal to "A Stationary Traveller" by Camel, in the sense that both their works represent the turning point of the career, in the direction of the AOR music; but of course if I compare the light works by Camel to the present unique style by Kansas, there are a few differences. First of all the American "pomp" sound (listen also to other bands like Styx, Prophet, Enchant and so on. ) is not perfectly fitted into the style of Latimer &C.; secondly the exigencies of the US market in the eighties were quite different.coming back to the present issue, I'm not so excited about this AOR genre (I think of the best albums by Toto, being better within this genre), nevertheless I recognize interesting features within, above all in the track "Rainmaker" and in its short instrumental section as well.at the end I prefer the progressive period of Kansas (listen to "Leftoverture" for instance), in the place of this AOR style, which is not bad anyway!!
Report this review (#46417)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars not a bad disc,but,i think who the before"power"was better who this.including the song rainmaker, who is for me the most progressive song of kansas of the 80´s where steve walsh sing like!! roger waters!!,a kind of the wall(the trial)who casually also was co- write for bob ezrin,the rest is topic aor.
Report this review (#60769)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I tended to reject this album the first time it was released. It's not because of there were no Kery Livgren (guitar, songwriter) and Robby Steinhardt (violin) but it's more on different kind of sound I was hearing the first time I spun the CD. Take example the opening part of album opener "Ghosts". From first shot only I was a bit disappointed with the vocal quality of Steve Walsh which didn't sound like him at early albums. This time his voice is heavy and practically no high register notes he typically sang. So I did not put this album in my playlist for quite a long time.

Guess what happened then? I came back with this album after I knew that "In The Spirit of Things" was produced by Bob Ezrin (not all tracks but most of them) and Steve Morse was the guitar player. Wow! I'd better check it out again. This is really biased and very personal opinion and it might not apply to you. I have already perceived that a rock album is produced (or even co-produced!) by Bob Ezrin must be a good one. I have never heard any album where Bob Ezrin produced was a bad one. I even think: how would it sound like if Bob Ezrin was not involved in "In The Spirit of Things"? It might be a lousy album. With the brain and hands of Mr Ezrin, Steve Morse's guitar sounds sometimes are similar with of those played by Kerry Livgren! That makes me smile, already. Steve Morse is one of the best guitarists I know in rock music, so I think he is also the attraction point of this album.

Musically, most of tracks are good with this album. They have good song structure and arrangement. In most tracks Steve Walsh voice stays on track with early albums' voice quality. What it lacks is the melody; I don't see any catchy melody resulted from most of tracks featured here. But it does not mean that this is a bad album. Take "One Big Sky" for example. See the way Steve sings the melody of the song accompanied by children's voice - it sounds weird to me as it has weak melody. The situation becomes better with "House On Fire" which for me is a good track with excellent guitar and vocals, a rocker, excellent organ solo.

It's not Kansas' best album but it's a good one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75837)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
3 stars It's a different spirit of things compared to the other outputs featuring Kerry Livgren. They play solid bombast rock music, less Prog more AOR - but it's not disappointing.

Good melodies for example 'Inside of me', 'Stand beside me' or 'I counted on love'. 'Rainmaker' is a symphonic exception and the highlight of this release ... 3.5 stars

Report this review (#78088)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I have to admit that at the time Kansas released this album in 1988, I was not even aware they were still together. It was the latter 80s, and at the time I was listening to poseurs like Let’s Active and, I don’t know – a-Ha or something. The 80s were a really hard decade for progressive music fans – God bless Marillion, and maybe even Asia.

Anyway, out of nowhere comes Kansas with their third consecutive album without violinist Robby Steinhardt (who had left during 1982’s Vinyl Confessions recording), and the second without Kerry Livgren and bassist Dave Hope, who both left after the 1983 release of Drastic Measures. Back again was vocalist and keyboardist Steve Walsh, who had rejoined the band for the 1986 Power release, as well as former Streets bassist Billy Greer. Dixie Dregs (and soon to be Deep Purple) guitarist Steve Morse had rejoined Kansas after a brief hiatus as an airline pilot (seriously!). The tour supporting this release was mostly canceled due to a severe throat ailment for Walsh, and Morse would leave again following the album’s release and a brief stint doubling with both Kansas and his own band on a European tour the following spring. Greg Robert appears on the album playing keyboards and singing backup, but would not be credited as an ‘official’ member until 1992’s Live at the Whiskey release.

The album is supposed to be something of a theme record, telling the rather disjointed tale of the 1951 flood that destroyed tiny Neosho Falls, Kansas (I’ve been there – it’s still tiny, and really boring). But only a few of the lyrics really support the theme, and about half the album’s songs came from hired writers and stand out like a turd in a teacup. The songs that were not written by Walsh, Morse, or Ehart are pretty obvious to the ears of long-time Kansas fans, and overall the theme pretty much falls apart by the end of the first side of the record. The band (particularly Walsh) have tried to explain this away by saying the individual songs are supposed to represent vignettes of people’s lives who were affected by the flood, but I think what really happened was that the combination of four producers and interference by the label caused the original concept to be wrecked by several songs inserted as potential radio hits. Except for “Ghosts” and “Rainmaker”, most of the songs are either power-rock love songs, or songs about love lost. “Bells of Saint James” is particularly interesting as it tells of an American soldier during the Korean War writing home to his lover, and the tenor of her letters back starts to fade as their distance grows apart.

The music itself isn’t bad. Walsh’s voice is pretty solid for the most part, which makes his ragged vocals on Live at the Whiskey just four years later all the more alarming. The keyboards are strong, but it’s hard to tell which belong to Walsh and which belong to Greg Robert. Steve Morse’s guitar has jelled with the band compared to his one-man- band sound on Power two year’s prior, and Rich Williams plays a complementary role with a few flashes of his trademark meat-wall sound that really started to emerge as the band first fractured around 1980’s Audio-Visions. Greer lays down a solid though conservative bass line throughout, not as animated as Hope was but certainly serviceable. Greer would become a much stronger personality with the band in the 90s.

In addition to his production work, Bob Ezrin co-wrote four of the songs and provided some percussion and backing vocals. There were also several other keyboardists and vocalists on the album, presumably a result of the overproduction by Ezrin, 80s dinosaur-rock producer Greg Ladanyi, and hack producer-wannabe Paul Maxon. Phil Ehart also claimed production credits, although I’m not sure why.

The strongest tracks on the album are well-done with tight rhythms and solid lyrics – “Ghosts”, “House on Fire”, and the tear-jerker “Bells of Saint James” in particular. The acoustic guitar instrumental “T.O. Witcher”, written by Walsh as a tribute to an old friend, is nostalgic and appealing, but kind of out-of-place for a Kansas album. Still, it has become a concert staple for the band in recent years.

“House on Fire” is an energetic song about a scorned woman with a gun, and kind of like the early “Lonely Street” with an edge and role-reversal. There is a much longer version of this live on the King Biscuit Presents album that really rocks and is much better than the version here, but this is probably the closest to the rock-meets-art sound the band churned out on Monolith, Audio-Visions, and to a certain extent Vinyl Confessions.

“Inside of Me” is my favorite song on the album, which despite being a pure 80s power ballad showcases Walsh’s strongest vocals in years, as well as showing the band’s ability for razor-sharp execution. The chorus is catchy, without being too pop- sounding.

“Stand Beside Me” is another power ballad, was one of the songs Ezrin bought from a writer’s-mill, and was the featured single for the album. It failed to chart at all, and garnered almost no radio play except on some die-hard adult-listening stations. I’m actually kind of glad, because this song was WAY too overproduced, and comes off sounding like something John Elephante would have put out if he had Don Henley and Steve Perry of Journey to work with instead of the Kansas brethren. Bleah!

The other hired-gun songs are “One Big Sky”, which also sounds better on the live King Biscuit album; “One Man, One Heart”, which is about as sappy as the title implies (but solid guitars and drums); and “Once in a Lifetime”, which I won’t say any more about because my mother taught me that if you can’t say something good about somebody, …..

So overall this is not a great album from Kansas. It probably wouldn’t even be considered good compared to their best output from the 70s (or even 2000’s Somewhere to Elsewhere). And it probably would have been better if the band had managed to write all their own material, since the songs written by Walsh and Morse all fall into the pretty decent-to-good category. And “Inside of Me”, “Ghosts”, and “House on Fire” are all at least solid, perhaps even really good.

In all I would probably rate this at somewhere between 2.6 and 2.9 on a scale of one to five, so for now I’ll round it off to three (but just barely) and consider my opinion shared. Enjoy.

peace

Report this review (#88076)
Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Do not expect too much of this Kansas effort. Although some colleagues have rated this album with five stars (a masterpiece ?) this is aboslutely not a must own Kansas album. Forget about those famous violin soli, the grandiose vocal harmonies, the furious guitar breaks and the gorgeous keyboard sounds. What we have here is average (at best) to poor rock FM music.

Only one good Kansas song (I am not even talking about a highlight) : the closing number "Bells of Saint James" somewhat reminiscent of the good old time with great guitar work (but Steve Morse is a brilliant guitar player). Nice vocals from Walsh as well. The opener is mellowish for most of it, but does include a fantastic guitar break. "House Of Fire" is not too bad either : strong riff and great keys (we won't get much of those here). I can also live with the "Once in a Lifetime" which is a nice rock ballad (some violin touch might have add an interesting angle to it).

What's the use of this Christian choir on some of the songs : "One Big Sky", "The Preacher" (gosh !) and "Rainmaker" (which features a brilliant guitar break in the middle part, really). I know that some Kansas members were strongly influenced by religion but this is a bit too much for me. My overall feeling about this album is that it is made out of pre-formatted music. Rather repetitive and weak to be honest. Tasteless music "Inside Of Me", "One Man, One Heart" I am as objective as an old (but not deaf) Kansas fan can be. Maybe I am too much attracted by their early works ?

The serie of poor albums goes on : their second album in a row which I rate with one star only. After this one, Kansas will make a loooooong break before going back to the studios. A good idea, I guess. Stay away from this album is my advice.

Report this review (#118507)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I will try not to shoot on the ambulance but in this case this is not very easy.

In the Spirit of Things, the second and last Kansas album featuring Steve Morse, is maybe even more disappointing than its forerunner, Power. At this point, it seems clear that the band had given up on any artistic aspiration and was just there for the money . which I guess must not have been so much considering the poor quality of the songs here.

For the first time, the band even uses outside composers for one third of the songs. I remember Steve Walsh telling that those composers were imposed by MCA in hope to get a hit single. Wrong move .

Apart from Steve Walsh's voice, nothing on this album -I mean NOTHING- will remind you of the great band that Kansas was in the 70's (and even, IMHO, in the early 80's). All you get is mainstream AOR stuff all the way . which could be OK for me if the songs were not so caricatural and, for the most part, rather terrible.

Still, a few tunes save the album for being a complete stinker. The first one is "Inside of Me", which has a very effective guitar riff unfortunately half-ruined by a poor chorus : it could have been a minor hit for, let's say, REO Speedwagon. The second is "The Preacher", an heavier number totally predictable but that gets the particularity to have guitar solos . which is very rare on this album ! It could have been a minor hit for, let's say, 38 Special. The third and last is "Bells of Saint-James", an effective rocker with a good short solo but, again, a poor chorus : it could have been a minor hit for, let's say, Survivor. But don't get me wrong : those songs are not great, they are just average.

Two other tracks can be listened without an urge to hit the skip button : "Stand beside Me" (the single !) and "I counted on Love". Both would be OK had the band been allowed -or taken the time ?- to record instrumental parts instead of lazy fading outros at three and half minutes .

Everything else is highly forgettable since it shows a complete lack of inspiration and has been done -much better- billion times before.

If you are a die-hard collector for 80's AOR, even the worse of it, you can add In the Spirit of Things to your collection. For anyone else, and especially fans of Kansas classic sound and stuff, it's better to erase from your memory the very existence of this album.

Report this review (#120180)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Definitely not in the traditional vein of the "classic Kansas sound", but still very solid album in AOR style. Very good example that Kansas is not dead and still manage to offer good pieces with the unmatch guitar player that is Steve Morse. Much more better then Vinyl or Drastic with more confidence in song writing, Steve Walsh voice is good as in the past. What else then a 4 star album, the best from them in the '80, and why not among their best recordings, of course after the '70 releses. 4 stars.
Report this review (#135472)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This might be the best of Kansas eighties albums. That doesn´t mean that In the Spirit of Things is very good though. Let me try and put words to what I hear when I listen to eighties Kansas: Church, Rightwing christian values ( jeeesuuuus I´m born again), american mid-western tradition and republican votes. These things are to me the sworn enemy of artistic freedom and it is easily heard on the eighties Kansas albums that it is this lifestyle they have embraced at this time.

Even though I concider this to be their best album of the eighties it´s still really lame, and says nothing to me. But there are a few instrumental passages spread throughout the album, and a couple of nice vocal lines that saves this from my garbage bin.

In the Spirit of Things is not very likable though, and I would not recommend this to anyone.

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Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars In a Kansas town

Even though the line-up is the same that made the previous Power only two years before the release of this album, In The Spirit Of Things is a rather different album from Power. While Power basically rocked throughout, In The Spirit Of Things is a more mellow and reflective affair with several ballads and semi-ballads. The mellow nature of the album is revealed right from the start with the excellent Ghosts, a slow and beautiful piano based ballad that sets the mood for the album. The band rocks out here about as often here as they slowed things down on Power. Personally, I like both albums, but I cannot help thinking that they could have made a better album by combining the best material from these two albums into one.

In The Spirit Of Things is something of a concept album. The concept is loosely about a small town in Kansas. The music is helped by the concept and not dominated by it, just as concept albums should be. And the cover art and the booklet give us a very nice visual representation of the music.

One Big Sky and Inside Of Me are similar mellow semi-ballads with some faster instrumental breaks. Both songs have very strong and memorable choruses. One Man, One Heart, on the other hand is the first low point of the album. It is not awful, just unremarkable and not very interesting. House On Fire is the first (and only) real rocker on this album. Here the Hammond organ is brought in, and the guitar sounds more like it did on the Power album. But if this song had been on Power, it would easily have stood out as the weakest. Again, it is not awful, just not very memorable despite some nice guitar breaks. This song is quite similar in style to what Steve Morse would go on to do with Deep Purple later on. Once In A Lifetime is a power ballad in typical 80's style and Stand Beside Me and I Counted On Love are similar to Inside Of Me and One Big Sky from earlier, melodic semi-ballads. The Preacher is a Gospel-Blues-Rock 'n' Roll number that I have a hard time liking despite some tasteful guitar work. And at this point you really begin to wonder if this album is going to hold anything more of interest. Enter the Rainmaker, the only song on this album with clear progressive touches. These touches are basically restricted to an instrumental section towards the end of the song, though. But it stands out as a great moment on this album. Steve Morse is allowed to shine on his short but lovely acoustic piece T.O. Witcher. Before the closing song Bells Of Saint James, a bombastic song similar to One Big Sky.

It should be pointed out that no less than four of the songs on this album are non-band compositions. With the rest of the songs dominated by the two Steves - Steve Morse and Steve Walsh - writing together, sometimes with help from producer Bob Ezrin. The fact that they brought in non-band compositions might be taken to signal that the band was running out of inspiration. However, the best songs here are clearly the ones they wrote themselves, with Ghosts and Rainmaker standing out.

The production by Ezrin is perfect and overall this is a well crafted album with some great and some weak moments. I prefer Power which I consider to be the best Kansas album of the 80's.

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Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Kansas' final album of the 1980s was a nightmare in terms of the amount of commercialism that went into the making of it. While retaining spitfire guitarist Steve Morse, the band adds an additional keyboardist, Greg Roberts, perhaps to fill in where Livgren was in the sound, although it's hard to tell where his contributions lie. The rhythm section is as solid as it has ever been, even if Billy Greer and Phil Ehart don't have much to deal with in terms of complexity. Rich Williams is still present, but the other guitarist tends to step over him with his shredding. Steve Walsh's voice and vision are both clear on this album, and regarding the former, one can only really detect the rasp when he goes for the higher notes. He has said many times that this is his favorite Kansas album, but it's hard to see why. Despite his tendency toward commercially accessible songwriting, MCA decided to provide the band with some "guidance" in that department, using several outside songwriters to try to squeeze out a hit single or two. And while the album is sometimes described as a loose concept album revolving around the flood that hit Neosho Falls, Kansas in the 1950s, I see very little in that direction. What is here is mostly a collection of pop-rock songs and a few power ballads.

"Ghosts" A gentle opening, with Walsh describing the desolation of a flood over an unassuming piano. It's a peaceful way to begin things.

"One Big Sky" This is an excellent rock song, especially for the time. Compared to the live version that has been released about two hundred times, this one is a little tame, almost stripped of its power since the guitars and vocals are mixed a bit low. The children's choir is a nice touch, though.

"Inside of Me" While I enjoy this song, Walsh has to sing ridiculously low in the beginning. Otherwise, it's a decent pop-rock song, if nothing more.

"One Man, One Heart" This is about as bland as Kansas gets- again, not a terrible song, but this sounds like the band was trying to cling to the heels of the persistent success of acts like Journey.

"House on Fire" This heavy rocker begins with some experimental guitar work before running into an organ-led introduction of the song proper. The otherworldly effects applied to the lead vocals work, even if they get old after a while. It's the stylish guitar playing from Morse and Williams that set this apart.

"Once in a Lifetime" Things slow down with a reflective acoustic song that picks up during the chorus, but other than the pleasing guitar, this one is mostly forgettable.

"Stand Beside Me" I think of all the pop ballads Kansas did, particularly during the late 1970s and the 1980s, this one might be my favorite. It is a simple song with good instrumentation and is well-executed. It doesn't make me feel anything, but I suppose that's the nature of these kinds of songs.

"I Counted On Love" Like "One Man, One Heart," this is just a bland 1980s power ballad, one I can do without. None of the instrumentation is even noteworthy.

"The Preacher" Along with "Ghosts," "One Big Sky," and "Bells of Saint James," this is one of my preferred songs on this album. It has a good blues structure with some solid riffs, and the melodies are quite memorable. The choir adds a much needed layer during the chorus.

"Rainmaker" The half-sung, half-spoken lyrics sound almost laughably cheesy, but after that initial section, Walsh becomes dramatic over the choir, telling a haunting story. Heavier instrumentation follows, with the sound of thunder underneath, that does a great job depicting the deluge.

"T.O. Witcher" This is a terse acoustic guitar piece written by Morse to honor a teacher of his. While I personally like it (and it's certainly fun to actually play), and while I wouldn't call it out of place on this album, it does seem like excessive validation of Morse's place in the band.

"Bells of Saint James" The final song describes the correspondence between a solider and his lover. Morse scratches out a quick solo, and the drumming is terrific. The vocals soar here, and after enduring some terribly commercial music, the album ends satisfyingly.

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Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars In the 1980s movie "Repo Man", Emilio Estevez walks through a room where The Circle Jerks were playing an acoustic version of their song When The Sh*t Hits The Fan. He shakes his head and says "I can't believe I used to like those guys". Ever since "Monolith", Kansas albums have made me feel that way. And for some reason (probably because I worked in a record store, and got the promos for free), I always gave them another chance.

Even with the amazing Steve Morse (of The Dixie Dregs) on board, this one is still a turkey. Just a bunch of overblown arena rock songs, with better than average guitar solos. The middle break section of Rainmaker is about the only place the band approaches prog. But it doesn't last long.

Don't bother.

Report this review (#276024)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Steve Walsh, Phil Ehert, and Rich Williams are here, but not much else. "Livgren, where art thou?" A lot of commericalized AOR radio-freindly rock appears here with few redeeming good songs. Only "one Big Sky", "The Preacher", "Rainmaker" and "The Bells of Saint James", keep this from being a disaster. Overall, this is a standard Kansas 80's album ala' FREAKS OF NATURE that missed the contributions of Kerry Livgren. Going through the motions? While it is not as bad as POWER or anything without Steve Walsh, it is not an exciting album. Not bad, not good, just kinda there. Little to no prog at all. 2 stars. If it was judged only on it's rock value, maybe 3.
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Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I will preface this review by saying that Kansas is my favorite band and it was my first love in prog. That said, this is not one of their better moments. What we have here is a hodgepodge of songs, some of which seem to be part of a concept album about a flood in a small Kansas town, and some of which are campy ballads written by songwriters outside of the band and forced onto the album in an attempt to generate hit singles. What results is about what you would expect, probably the least consistent and cohesive Kansas album out there.

The album actually starts off well, with "Ghosts" being a nice, slow tune with sparse but functional instrumentals and evocative imagery-filled lyrics. From there, unfortunately, the album takes a nosedive from which it will not recover until the ending of the album. "One Big Sky" and "Inside of Me" both have Kansas members credited as writers, but they're very bland and lack any of the punch that even the commercial material off of their previous album Power had. "One Man, One Heart" has nothing that you wouldn't immediately expect from the title. "House on Fire" is a rocker, but not a good one. With a chorus that goes, "She's like a flame, she's burning hot, she's like a house on fire," this is 80s cheese at its worst. The worst song on the album. "Stand Beside Me," is pretty much in the same boat as "One Man, One Heart," in my opinion it's a waste of space. "I Counted On Love" is probably the most palatable of this middle section of pop mediocrity, but given its competition that's not saying much.

"The Preacher," seems to hearken back to the supposed concept we glimpsed with "Ghosts," and it's miles better than tracks 2-8. Even so, though, it's not stellar, using a gospel approach on the chorus that only sort of works. "Rainmaker," on the other hand is great. Telling the story of a con-man who, it is implied, inadvertently dooms the town, it's got a great vocal performance by Walsh and a very cool, spooky chorus. "T.O. Witcher" is a short little acoustic interlude that probably would have made sense if this were a full-blown concept album; as it is it just feels a bit out of place. Luckily, the album finishes on a high note. "The Bells of Saint James" is everything a finale should be, with awesome vocals from Walsh and a killer guitar solo. An awesome, awesome song that pretty much makes this album worth the money I spent on it.

Overall, though, this album is a mess, and the commercial songs are bad even by their own standards. For a better look at this commercial, Steve Walsh led Kansas, buy Power. "In The Spirit of Things" might be Steve Walsh's favorite Kansas album, but it sure isn't mine.

2/5

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Posted Saturday, July 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, released in 1988, hardly anyone noticed this album. Kansas by that time was already a burnt out band. Small wonder it took almost two decades to even know they did have put out a follow up to 1986´s Power with the same line up. Which is a pity, since in several ways In The Spirit Of Things is superior to Power. Not that it is a classic. In fact the album is still plagued by that kind of overblown 80´s production, even if that style was already on decay at the time. But the songs in general are quite strong.

The opener trio of tunes show that contradiction very well: Ghosts, One Big Sky And Inside of Me are all good rock songs that the plastic production make them drag a bit. The band is tight, Steve Walsh vocals are great and passionate all the way through. There are some power ballads and a few typical AOR tracks on the way, but clearly nothing here is crap. Again the excellent instrumentation and the fierce, convincing vocals make even the weakest tunes at least listenable. And at the end of the album you´ll find even some little known gems: Rainmaker and, specially, Bells Of Saint James show the band in great form and somewhat reminding of their power and majesty of the 70´s. It´s ironical that Steve Morse is hardly noticeable on the record: is hard to tell where he or Rich Williams play each part. Still, the guitars are great when they appear.

In the end I found this album much more pleasant and exciting than Power. While there is plenty of commercial material, they still managed to make it with elegance and personality and included far better stuff by the second half of the CD. Not up to their classic stuff, ok, but still very good. Certainly if The Spirits of Things was released some five years before it would be probably praised as an AOR classic with strong prog influences and it could sell a lot too . Certainly it would be far superior than 90% of the pop stuff of the period. But the timing was bad. Such a shame.

If PA was an AOR or melodic rock site The Spirit Of things could easily get 4 or even 5 stars. For a prog site, though, 3 stars is quite adequate. Good, but non essential.

Report this review (#659023)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I think that the eighites was a very hard decade for some Progressive Rock bands which had to survive pleasing the record companies which gave them recording contracts but not very much artistic freedom. I think that this thing can be listened very much in an album like this by Kansas. This is another over-produced eighties album more oriented for the Pop Rock and Hard Rock markets than for the Prog Rock market. All those "commercial eighties" ingredients are there in this album: very typical eighites sound in the keyboards, a lot of reverbation, typical sounding drums, etc. The guitars by Steve Morse are very good, but more oriented to the Hard Rock style, and Rich Williams is more in the background as guitarist. The original music style of Kansas is harder to identify than in their previous album called "Power", and the band sounds very different. Steve Walsh´s voice sounds good even if it sounds a bit "raw" and a bit tired. The record label even suggested to the band to use songs composed by people who was not in the band, sounding very commercial for my taste ("One Man, One Heart", ."Once in a Lifetime" and "Stand Beside Me") like the record label executives wanted hit singles and they didn´t believe the band had those hit singles as composers. I only like these songs from this album: "One Big Sky","The Preacher" and "T.O. Witcher".
Report this review (#1007025)
Posted Saturday, July 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
2 stars By 1988, the record companies were pretty much giving up on reviving rock bands from the 70's. Kansas' record label still decided to give the band another chance, but since MCA dropped most of its classic rock bands after the release of "In the Spirit of Things" and really only made some half-hearted attempts to promote this record. I have to wonder, however, if it would have made much of a difference. Kansas was no longer sounding much like it's classic sound since they had catered to the whims of the record label and watered down their music so much that it wasn't anything close to progressive anymore. It was just very commercial sounding hard rock. Even the violin, the one signature instrument of Kansas, was missing. Really, the only thing that sounded like the Kansas of old was Steve Walsh's vocals, and they were getting a bit annoying by this time.

Kansas by this time was turned into a Top 40 style pop/rock band anyway, and this doesn't change at all in the album "In the Spirit of Things". All this album is, is a loose-concept album with a bunch of mediocre songs. Nothing here is really that interesting. To top it all off, there were no real hits to come off of this record, and even if the band was catering to the whims of the record label, it ended up bombing quite miserably. Even a lot of long-time Kansas fans were unaware of it's existence. Other than Walsh, there is really nothing here that suggests that this is Kansas. Dorothy and Toto must have been disappointed and the words "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" never rung sadder.

The highest points of the album come in the tracks "Ghosts", "One Big Sky" and "Rainmaker". But even these tracks are quite lackluster when compared to "Leftoverture" or anything released prior to that. Beyond that, there is really nothing on this album to salvage as one uninteresting track after another ticks itself off. There just isn't much here to get excited about.

The poor performance of this record brought in a big dry spell for the band who wouldn't release another album until 1995 with "Freaks of Nature", which was at least touted as a real reunion of the band. The band did remain active through these years, however, but lived off of touring 2nd rate venues and playing old hits of the 70s. Fortunately, this would not, however, be the end of the band as the did at least revive some of the spark in later albums. But, at the time of this album, things looked rather bleak for the band and no one really expected anything from them at this point.

Report this review (#2582760)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Review Permalink

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