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TIME LINE

Kerry Livgren

Crossover Prog


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Kerry Livgren Time Line album cover
2.17 | 9 ratings | 2 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Time Line (4:04)
2. Tonight (4:52)
3. Make Or Break It (3:48)
4. Take Us To The Water (4:27)
5. Beyond The Pale (3:33)
6. New Age Blues (3:54)
7. Slow Motion Suicide (4:46)
8. High On A Hill (3:51)
9. Life Undercover (3:26)
10. Welcome To The War (5:10)

Total Time: 41:51

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Kerry Livgren / guitars, keyboards

Guest Musicians:
- Craig Harber / drums
- Dennis Holt / drums
- Scott Meeder / drums
- David Pack / vocals
- Terry Brock / vocals
- John Elefante / vocals
- Kyle Henderson / vocals
- Warren Ham / woodwinds
- Dave Hope / bass guitar
- Michael Gleason / background vocals

Releases information

LP CBS Records (1984)
CD Renaissance Records (1996)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Renaissance 1996
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KERRY LIVGREN Time Line ratings distribution


2.17
(9 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(11%)
11%
Good, but non-essential (44%)
44%
Collectors/fans only (22%)
22%
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)
11%

KERRY LIVGREN Time Line reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars If Seeds of Change was the coming-out album that shortly followed Kerry Livgren's conversion to Christianity, then Time Line marks his debut as a largely solo performer. The album was recorded late in 1983 after Kansas released Drastic Measures and Kerry and Dave Hope had departed the band, leaving only Rich Williams and Phil Ehart from the original lineup.

While Time Line is credited to "Kerry Livgren A.D.", this isn't really an album from the band of the same name, although it is the same lineup that would release Art of the State under that name the following year. Hope, and especially Livgren, were still embroiled in legal issues with Kansas (I believe the band still owed the label an album), so this was legally a solo effort.

Seeds of Change was quite a departure for Livgren from the progressive art rock he had become so well known for with Kansas. The Kansas albums Vinyl Confessions and Drastic measures were also quite a bit more mainstream and pop-oriented than their previous works.

Time Line went even further in distancing Livgren from the flights of musical fantasy that had yielded four platinum and several gold albums for Kansas. This is very much a pop album, with very little of the aggressive rhythm, soaring guitars, and stunning vocals of 70's Kansas. Time Line features simple keyboard signatures, frankly rather boring drums, and some pretty forgettable vocals from brief Kansas touring keyboardist Michael Gleason and former Toto-ite Warren Ham. Hope plays bass on all the album's tracks, but his work is much more subdued than anything he had done in his previous life.

None of the songs on this album remotely resemble anything Kansas ever did (with the possible exception of Drastic Measures). A couple of them sound as if they would have been at home on a Miami Vice soundtrack perhaps. This is the work of an artist who is clearly trying to find both inspiration and direction in his post-conversion world, and at times the search sounds almost painful. Pretty much all the lyrics are of a Christian orientation, but even these don't seem to carry a whole lot of conviction. The overall sound of the album is tepid at best.

"Time Line" borders on an 80's Human League sound, but with more masculine vocals. There's really no sign of Livgren anywhere in this song, and the various special effects and percussion sounds just come off as cheesy. Surprisingly, this is the only track off the album that would end up on Livgren's Best Of album years later. Surprising because probably none of these songs should have been considered even remotely among the best work Livgren has done.

"Tonight" is another forgettable pop tune with A-Ha like keyboards and echo-enhanced vocals from Gleason. Not much to say about this one.

The timing of "Make it or Break It" actually reminds me of some of the solo and Streets stuff Steve Walsh did in the 80's, but here again there isn't much of a Livgren presence except for a few guitar licks that I'm guessing came from him. The harmonizing vocals from Ham and Gleason are actually rather annoying. This could be the title track from just about any 80's power pop album. More of the same on "Take Us to the Water", except the vocals border on more echo than actual voice. The chorus ("Hosanna") sung by Ham sounds suspiciously like the chorus to the Toto hit "Rosanna".

The front side of the album ends with "Beyond the Pale", which at least has some nice piano on it. Otherwise this sounds more like something Steve Winwood might have recorded in his post-Traffic days.

The back side of the album is actually a bit more interesting than the front. "New Age Blues" features more of the Ham-n-Gleason harmonizing vocals, but at least they're a bit more aggressive and Livgren's guitar work is much more noticeable here. In a couple of spots they border on that 70's Yes sound where the singing approaches chanting.

I actually think "Slow Motion Suicide" is the best track on this album. The lyrics are typical Livgren - self-reflecting and somewhat preachy, but sincere anyway. This is a popish tune, but it is very listenable and the arrangements show some ambition on Livgren's part.

"High on a Hill" is a song about Jesus' crucifixion. Here again the arrangement is well done, but the vocalists (I think there are three of them) come off as a borderline Pentecostal power trio.

The most aggressive beat on the album comes on "Life Undercover", but it offers little more than that. This is another song where the percussion and various keyboard effects seem to have been applied with little regard to subtlety. Some decent saxophone though.

The album closes with "Welcome to the War", which I suppose is what "The Wall" sounds like when the author is no longer searching anymore (and minus any actual progressive musicians to support the lyrics).

When Kansas imploded in the early 80's I was pretty crushed, but I did put the best face on it and purchase a number of the post-Walsh era works: Livgren's Seeds of Change and this one; Walsh's Schemer-Dreamer and the first two Streets albums, and later even the Steinhardt-Moon debut. I even bought the two Elephante albums. Of them all, Drastic Measures was the worst. This one ranks second lowest.

If you want a good post-Kansas Kerry Livgren album, buy Seeds of Change, or even When Things Get Electric. Don't buy this one. You won't find anything artsy, progressive, or even convincingly pop on it. This album is the definition of a 'collector's- only' work.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#76061) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars So this is what Kerry was planing while waiting to leave Kansas. OK what we have here is essentially a CD that was born in the MTV years, grew up in the MTV years and remains in the MTV years. Very much the same techno pop that was being recorded by Duran Duran. Big heavy 80's synth line with the guitar more subdued. Originally this CD was conceived as a solo project by Livgren but during the recording he felt the people he assembled worked so well together they took this out on the road. There was some potentially good pop songs here that were never promoted by CBS hoping that Kerry would return to the fold of Kansas being the main songwriter at the time he left. The biggest problem Kerry faced is that this time the world of Radio rock/pop would not play music with overtly Christian lyrics that changed just a few years later with Stryper. So with no promotion and no Kansas songs in the set this band was doomed to failure.

So what about the CD. Hmmm. I like this CD but to review it in this day and age to someone who has never heard it is hard. It is just that, 80's techno pop, and there isn't much else to say except that the musicians are probably much better than others in that class. At times there are some very good keyboard work as in High on Hill and Slow Motion Suicide. The vocals are really good Warren Ham and Mike Gleason do well as a duo. Warren taking the more blues style and Mike the high tenor. Mike also plays a bit of guitar and a lot of keyboards but the guitar is so clean sounding now that it is almost non existent except on a song like New Age Blues. There is a mini epic in Welcome to the War where Kerry tries to recreate his last good one Crossfire from Vinyl Confessions. Warren also adds some Flute, Sax and Harmonica that give off some color. The drums are way to understated both in the playing and recording and most of the time Dave Hope just cruises through his bass line, nothing special. Kerry still writes some great melodies though but where in Kansas they would be explored a bit more deeply here they are rushed through.

Well the Livgren fan in me would like to give this a 3 star but I just can't do it. Unless you are really wanting to complete your Livgren collection or your already a big fan (in which case you probably already own this) there isn't just enough to go on. Doomed to failure from the start I am afraid. The only real good thing that came out of this was Livgren was able to purchase a studio to continue to make projects. 2.5 stars.

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Send comments to Garion81 (BETA) | Report this review (#117760) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 09, 2007

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