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MONOLITH

Kansas

Symphonic Prog


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Kansas Monolith  album cover
3.19 | 221 ratings | 33 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. On the other side (6:23)
2. People of the South wind (3:38)
3. Angels have fallen (6:37)
4. How my soul cries out for you (5:44)
5. A glimpse of home (6:34)
6. Away from you (4:23)
7. Stay out of trouble (4:13)
8. Reason to be (3:50)

Total Time: 41:22

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Phil Ehart / drums, percussion
- Dave Hope / bass, Autogyro
- Kerry Livgren / guitars, keyboards
- Robby Steinhardt / lead vocals, viola, violin
- Steve Walsh / lead vocals, keyboards
- Rich Williams / acoustic & electric guitars

Releases information

Cd. Kirshner ZK 36008

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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The Best of KansasThe Best of Kansas
Remastered · Extra tracks
Sony 1999
Audio CD$3.70
$1.51 (used)
Song for AmericaSong for America
Remastered
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.96
$2.98 (used)
LeftovertureLeftoverture
Import
Epic Europe 2001
Audio CD$4.56
$3.49 (used)
The Best Of Kansas (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl/Anniversary Limited Edition/Gatefold Cover)The Best Of Kansas (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl/Anniversary Limited Edition/Gatefold Cover)
Limited Edition
Friday Music 2014
Vinyl$25.98
$40.21 (used)
MasqueMasque
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.66
$2.74 (used)
Audio VisionsAudio Visions
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.96
$7.95 (used)
Kansas (Expanded Edition)Kansas (Expanded Edition)
Remastered
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2004
Audio CD$2.43
$2.42 (used)
MonolithMonolith
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.97
$2.95 (used)
Point of Know ReturnPoint of Know Return
Sbme Special Mkts. 2002
Audio CD$2.79
$2.28 (used)
Somewhere to ElsewhereSomewhere to Elsewhere
Magna Carta 2014
Audio CD$10.99
$5.13 (used)
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KANSAS Monolith ratings distribution


3.19
(221 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (43%)
43%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

KANSAS Monolith reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars This album was my second bought and the group's most splendid Post-Nuke and Native gatefold (both inner and outer) artwork fascinated me, despite the music being "very average but still better than what would be coming up. I spent hours looking at the fascinating art work of the cover imagining Sci-Fi Disaster tales (while listening to other prog groups than Kansas) whose scripts I lost a few years later. No longer tracks to distinguish them from the pack, but there are a few over the 6-minutes mark.

Opening on the album-best and opening On The Other Side, this is the classic Kansas giving us the deeds with a bit of drama, just the way we like it. Unfortunately the promising (by the title anyway) People Of The Southern Wind is a rather awful AOR with a dreadful chorus line and Walsh's synths choices (he also rocks the piano) are disputable cheap-sounding, but the song can be viewed as catchy. The ambitious Angels Have Fallen is unfortunately IMHO cheesy but likely to please most of the group's fans. How My Soul is easily the most puzzling from the A-side, because of its experimentations (which I find unconvincing)

Opening the flipside is the track that was most likely put forth by the band and radios, Glimpse Of Home, a pure-AOR vocal track, but with some complex music, but marred by fake strings synth (just use a mellotron for f**k's sake). Away FromYou is from the same AOR mould with complex music than its predecessor, but a bit more acoustic. Stay Out Of Trouble is more of the same, but slightly less radio-friendly. The closing Reasons To Be is a cheesy almost-crooner track, which is best forgotten.

The Kansas fall from good or essential 70's prog band is now under way by the time of this album, but this one still has moments and might just be worth owning in vinyl for the superb artwork. In some ways, I prefer Monolith to Masque and POKR. We still have that very recognizable Kansas sound, but clearly the inspiration is waning by now. The trouble is that even picking out one track that would stand out from the rest of the album, is rather difficult, like the previous album had..

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#21844) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After "Point of Knowhere", "Monolith" has taken a more complex hard rock style than progressive. More accessible, the keyboards seem to take a break. The violin is less present, and there are some acoustic bits. The compositions are more pop oriented, despite the instruments fully load most of the songs. The sound is good and all the instruments are well played. We fill the dilution of the prog style here, and it seems to disappoint many fans. I think this record is among the least favorite ones.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#21846) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, 'Monolith' marks the start of an era of regressive creativity in Kansas, that's true, but still you can find strong material in this album, craftily performed, lots of energy, and specially, an extra amount of superb drumming and bass playing. It looks as if the slight diminishing of the progressive essence paved the way for the rhythm section to shine with a stronger light of its own: the guitar riffs are more featured in the mix, too. But despite their tendency to settle down to complex hard rock, this is still a progressive album. The repertoire is almost equally divided between Livgren and Walsh: they don't seem to be interested in interacting anymore as writers. The emotional opening number (a Livgren song about the difficulties of writing a song - maybe a confession of the fear of the blank paper syndrome?) delivers a testimony of a mysterious truth that is clearly there, but words fail to express: Walsh's singing is particularly great on this one. But... not as great as in track 3, 'Angels Have Fallen'. This Walsh-penned number is one of his most amazing compositions, with a sombre dramatism that is enhanced by his sung parts. The epic interlude and the majestic finale are simply captivating, with Steinhardt playing his violin like an inspired magician among the fiery guitar riffs and solos: his sung parts are calmer, in contrasts to his dominant partner's interventions. The instrumental climax is an apex of dramatism punctuated as a source of contrast by the last notes played at unison by a sole dute of violin and piano. Amazing!! This is my fave track of the album. Livgren, on the other hand, sounds much more optimistic, since he is now seeing the world with full hope given his then recent look into into the Urantian Movement (just on the verge of new-born Christianism). His opus 'A Glimpse of Home' is a candorous testimony of this crucial event in his life: the melodic lines, keyboard and violin interplays, and the guitar solos are well designed, like a musical ceremony. In the same vein, the closing acoustic ballad 'Reason to Be' describes the beauty implicit in the miracle of a trascendental revelation. 'People of the South Wind' is a catchy tune, with some poppy leaning a-la funky, with an interesting guitar solo in the middle: just funny. A major level of energy is displayed in 'How My Soul Cries Out for You' (a hard rock piece, at times almost heavy metal), and 'Away from You' (country-centered): both Walsh tracks comprise some interesting prog twists, and once again I have to mention it, great work by Ehart on drums. 'Stay Out of Trouble' is your typical angry rock tune, something to enjoy with a sense of fun before the solemnity of Reason to Be' ultimately appears. All in all, a very good album, though a bit far from some previous efforts' grandeur. Better than "merely good" and not as good as to be labelled as purely "excelent": yet, tracks 1, 3, 4 and 5 make 'Monolith' worth of my 4-star rating.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#21858) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album has individual songs composed by Livgren or Walsh. The best songs of this album (composed by Livgren) are "On the Other Side" (the best of all), "A Glimpse of Home" (with very good keyboard arrangements), "Reason to be", the most Prog songs, and the Funky "People of the South Wind". Steve Walsh`s songs tend to be more oriented to the Arena Rock style. One of his best songs in this album is "Away From You". "Stay out of trouble" (composed by Walsh with Robby Steinhardt and Rich Williams) is almost a "pure heavy rock" song, with a lot of guitars.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#21859) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 15, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Is Monolith the last of the classic Kansas albums or the beginning of the end? Go ask a philoskopher (I'm only an amateur historian). Speaking personally, I enjoy this album more than the works that followed, less than the pair that preceded it, which is hardly a revelation since most critics can agree on that. The disagreement occurs over where to grade the curve; were Leftoverture and Know Return masterpieces or mere mediocrity carefully concealed by producer Jeff Glixman? If you fall into the former camp, there's plenty of magic left on Monolith: "On The Other Side," "Reason To Be," "People of the South Wind." If you're apt to find flaws, there are more than a few moments on Monolith when the band embellishes simple songs with bombastic arrangements, as if flash were a substitute for substance. In fairness, Monolith marks the first time the band self-produced an album in the studio, and some of the silly touches (like the abrupt drum solo at the end of "How My Soul Cries Out For You") are to be expected when ambition collides with inexperience. What holds the album together is not a unifying story (contrary to some reports, this is not a concept album about space indians) but a unified Kansas. Steve Walsh, whose songs usually departed from Kerry Livgren's search for God, joins forces by writing songs with religious ramifications: "How My Soul Cries Out For You," "Away From You," "Angels Have Fallen." Only the directionless "Stay Out of Trouble" shows the sextet out of step with one another. If the album's theme is overtly religious, the music rocks out in spots, notably "Angels Have Fallen" and "A Glimpse of Home" (which sounds more like King's X than their previous work with Glixman). Considering that Livgren opens the album questioning his own inspiration, Monolith is a surprisingly inspired work. When it all clicks (and it clicks often here), Kansas makes superlative, spiritual music that fuses the best parts of American rock and English prog. If that's a sellout (as some have claimed), I'm sold.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#47570) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Such an underrated album by one of American's most successful progressive rock bands. After turning out classics like Leftoverture ("Carry On Wayward Son") and Point Of Know Return ("Dust In The Wind"), anything following would be scrutinized. To me, however, this has always been a favorite of mine. This was the final Kansas album that wasn't full of shorter, poppier songs that dealt with more simpler issues and still maintained the characteristics of classic Kansas.

Listening to Steve Walsh is always a treat...although, it makes me sad to think how much he's fallen off. He is still a lot of fun to listen to; however, Walsh in his prime was hard to touch. Monolith is no exception of a true vocal onslaught by Walsh. "A Glimpse Of Home", "On The Other Side", and the absolutely stunning "Reason To Be" are true highlights from Monolith. I do believe this was the transition to the more pop side of Kansas (as was pretty apparent on the follow-up Audio Visions). Still, I still consider this a true Kansas classic with amazing music by the genius of Kerry Livgren.

ps. Dave Hope and Phil Ehart are the most underrated rhythm section in progressive rock history, IMO.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#70506) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is I think underrated. It's obvious here that Kansas took different approach in their composition after their last studio album "Point Of Know Return" so some people who got used to their early work like "Leftoverture" or "Song For America" were disappointed with this change. Change. Change. Change. Yeah, that's why they are progressive band because they tried to take another path which was unclear. Actually they did not take the new approach radically as their main ingredients like unique guitar riffs and stunning violin by Robby were still there with this album. But, song like "How My Souls Cries Out For You" with weird rocker style and heavy composition made their early fans were disappointed. But actually if you listen to this album and have an open mind, you might agree with me that this is an excellent.

"On the other side" sounded like a pop tune but the more I listened to it, it grew on me. The Kansas sound is still around - that's why it makes me happy. "A Glimpse of Home" is really a great track which has quite complex structure with tight composition showing the collaborative work of guitar, violin and keyboard has made this song is engaging the min. And the sound is truly the early Kansas sound. Great! "Away From You" is also a very good track with rocking style blended with powerful Walsh voice. It's hard to deny - at least for me - the high standard of music Kansas plays. An excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#75753) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Monolith is often pointed to as the beginning of the slide for Kansas, and in some ways it was. But the album as a whole is extremely well arranged, and considering it was the band’s first attempt at self-production in the studio, pretty well constructed overall.

There have been many reviews written stating that the clear distinction between the Steve Walsh and the Kerry Livgren penned tunes as well as the ongoing internal squabbles in the band were a result of Walsh’s impatience with Livgren’s insistence on cranking out Christianity-inspired lyrics. This is not quite right. In fact, Monolith released in May 1979, and was recorded largely between February and March of that year. Livgren has stated many times that he converted to Christianity during the 87-city tour supporting the Monolith release, not before (on July 29, 1979 to be exact – one month after Monolith was certified as a gold-selling album). In fact, most of the Livgren tunes on the album (as well as “No One Together”, which was written during this time but released on Audio-Visions) were written while Livgren was still an ardent supporter of the Urantia Book, a cosmically spiritual alter-Bible of sorts that surfaced in Chicago in the mid 20th century. The Christian lyrics would come with Audio-Visions and Livgren’s solo debut Seeds of Change in 1980. Livgren was, to be fair, pretty much always inclined to mystic lyrics and arrangements bordering on the spiritual though.

There were certainly divisions in the band, but they were more because of Walsh’s desire for the band to pursue a simpler, more rock-infused musical path and less of a spacey, progressive one (and also probably because of Walsh’s liquid-consumption-plus-short- temper problem during this period). In fact, Walsh had penned some tunes during this timeframe that were not included on Monolith for whatever reason, but did end up on his own solo debut Schemer-Dreamer in 1980. It is interesting to note that this is the first Kansas album that did not include any co-authored works between Livgren and Walsh.

Coming off three consecutive multi-platinum selling albums, Monolith was a bit of a letdown for the band, but the period of 1979-1980 was a watershed period for many progressive bands, what with the competing genres of punk, new wave, and disco. It’s worth noting that the #1 album in America the day Monolith went gold was Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls”. Still, the album went on to sell nearly 900,000 copies, and will more than likely still top the platinum mark at some point anyway.

The songs themselves are somewhat varied, but most of them are pretty good. “On the Other Side” is pure Kansas, with a lot of spacey moog, gorgeous violin work by frontman Robbie Steinhardt, and some great guitar work by Livgren and Rich Williams. This is just as good as pretty much anything Kansas had done previously, plus it features the timeless lyrics –

“The answers are so simple and we all know where to look,

But it’s easier just to avoid the question”. amen

“People of the South Wind” is routinely panned as pseudo-disco fluff, which is a bit unfair. Livgren wrote this as a concert song, a kind of reflective, backward-looking nostalgic piece from the viewpoint of a weary road-warrior. Walsh said years later that the reason the band doesn’t play it any more is that they haven’t been able to capture the same vibe live that the song had back then. I can say from having seen it live in Wichita Kansas during the Audio-Visions tour that it was massively well-received by citizens of the state it was intended to pay tribute to. It was also one of two singles from the album.

Walsh really outdoes himself on “Angels Have Fallen”, a song whose lyrics sound remarkably like something Livgren would have written. This is probably the best thing Walsh had done since “Lonely Street” on Song for America. The abrupt tempo changes are atypical for Walsh, but make for a nice musical adventure. Walsh’s voice is superb, and Steinhardt sounds so young in his backing vocals that it’s almost shocking to hear today. Phil Ehart really makes this one work with some tight tempo discipline on drums. This has an intense guitar bridge with Williams laying down his meat-wall of sound and Livgren’s Dean just climbing all over it. Walsh on piano and Steinhardt on violin lay down some really delicate chords around the thunderous rhythm section and wall of guitar riffs. This is another song that just begs to be sung live.

“How My Soul Cries Out For You” is a bit of self-indulgence by the band, more like a semi- controlled jam session than a true studio work. Ehart is barely restrained on drums, including a short solo that is quite good but seemingly pointless; Walsh and Steinhardt alternate on some rocking vocals, backed by what sounds like the entire band; and Steinhardt tears up his violin pretty much uncontrollably. The crowd noises, opening doors, and breaking glass in the middle are pretty goofy, but Livgren makes up for it with some wicked guitar over the top of Ehart and bassist Dave Hope toward the end. Like I said, a bi self-indulgent, but if nothing else the players clear up any questions as to whether they have mastered their respective instruments. This is probably about a seven on a scale of one to ten.

“A Glimpse of Home” is actually one of my favorite songs on this album. Musically it’s fairly simple and straightforward for a Kansas song (especially one written by Livgren), but it’s a perfect example of one of those spiritually-minded works that Walsh was apparently coming to detest. Kind of funny though, because it also sounds a lot like the back side of Walsh’s solo album Schemer-Dreamer. Really, I have to believe the issues between Walsh and Livgren back then had to do with something much more basic than musical differences.

“Away From You” is the one song on this album that I’m very surprised Walsh didn’t hold back for his upcoming solo album. Other than the opening keyboard/violin flourish, the rest of this song sounds just like the stuff Walsh did solo. I kind of wonder if “Away From You” was the compromise made to Walsh in exchange for not including “No One Together” on this album. Livgren has said in interviews that he felt “No One Together” was an important song for Monolith, and I can say from having bought this at the height of my fervor for the band that it would have been a better choice than “Away From You”, which wasn’t well-received by fans back then.

It seems that every once and a while the band acted on their urge for a dirty, nasty blues rocker, usually co-written by Walsh and Williams. “Stay Out of Trouble” is the one for this album. These are often the songs that feature some sort of drugs/booze references, plenty of low-down vocals by Steinhardt, and Williams getting funky on his six strings. This one is no exception. Don’t be surprised if this resurfaces on tour with David Ragsdale back in the band.

The closing track “Reason To Be” is among the finest singles ever released by Kansas. It’s slow, heavily acoustic, and forward-looking. Another Livgren classic that would have been a huge hit just a couple years earlier, but was largely written off as sappy amidst some of the other crap that was filling the airwaves at the time –

“Someday something will find you, a magic feeling you could not foresee;

A feeling so devastating, from that moment on your life’s a comedy”.

A largely unheralded and underappreciated yet solid work from the boys from the heartland. A few production flaws, mostly on “How My Soul Cries Out For You”, and somewhat fragmented due to the split-personality known as Walsh & Livgren, but otherwise a great addition to any fan’s collection. This one teeters between three and four stars, but since all of these tracks are at least good (and some are great), I’m erring on the side of fan-boy and marking this down for four stars.

peace

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Posted Sunday, May 28, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was not very impressed with "Point Of Know Return" (to say the least) and I was quite suspicious to hear what Kansas was going to deliver with this album.

The opener "On The Other side" is a very nice piece of music : melodious vocals, great violin and good guitar arrangements. It is truely a great song : Kansas how I like it. Instrumental passages are really great. It is definitely the best number of this album : a superb opener. From the very first note of "People of the South Wind", one knows that this track is going to be a real bad one : pop / FM oriented. Kansas at his low. What a contrast between those two tracks ! I have a hard time to understand how they could have produced such a crappy song / one of their worst so far, with no doubt. But maybe I'm too critical...This song is rather commercial and might appeal to some Kansas fans. But not me. The Kansas I love is the one of their epic songs with these incredible violin, guitar and keys moments; so with this poor number, there is no wonder : I can only hate this. Which direction will choose the band for the other songs ?

"Angels Have Fallen" is a good track. Several tempos : a quiet intro as well as a good final section. In between a good guitar break, at times a bit heavy. From time to time, Kansas did propose truley hard-rock tune. I must admit that I do not dislike that. Again (like Purple) we get a very peaceful moment (piano and vocals). A quite elaborate track indeed which is welcome to forget the dreadful experience of the previous number. A good track indeed.

"How My Soul Cries Out for You" is a pure hard rocking song. After an hesitant debut, it evolves to a very good tune when Steinhardt violin solo enters the scene. Again Kansas at his best (although the short drum solo is not really relevant). The end though is rather rare : the sounds being faded away very low for about 40 seconds. The medieval intro for "A Glimpse Of Home" might have announced the worse but it is not the case. Not a superb track of course but thanks to nice vocal harmonies it has its charm. It turns out to be heavier in its later part (but this is a general feeling for this album).

"Away From You" is a good middle of the road rock song. Strong rythm, and superb backing band. Great vocals as well. Nothing too fancy but not bad either. The abrupt fading (again) at the end of the track is a bit annoying though. "Stay Out of Trouble" is a classic Kansas song (hard-rocking side) : a bit similar to "The Devil's Game" from "Song For America". One of the best number here. Very dynamic with a very strong guitar solo and a good bass playing (but, again, this weird fading at the end ...).

The rock ballad "Reason To Be" closes the album in a weak way. Mellowish and worthless. One number too much I must say.

This album is not a masterpiece, but it is well balanced. None of he tracks will remain in the memories as being great Kansas anthems but I will rate this effort three stars for its consistency.

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Posted Saturday, April 14, 2007

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, this is clearly no Leftoverture or Point Of Known Return. Still I liked it very much when it came out. Times had changed and I think it was so good to have a rock sounding album in a time rock seemed to be falling apart fast. And big names were totally out of place in 1979. It is less progressive, and more pop, ok, still the instrumentatio is great and the songs are very good. Soime are brilliant: On The Other Side, A Glimpse of Home and Away From You. Even the so maligned People Of The South Wind is a fine pop song in any way.

The strains inside the band were also starting to show: Walshs and Livgren visions were by this time almost opposite. That did not help the group at all, even if, as a whole, Kansas could still deliver a fine performance. Specially Steve Walsh, who is singing here better than ever.

Not a good start for someone new to the band, specially prog fans, but still a strong record.

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Posted Monday, September 03, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the start of the downfall for Kansas. Most of the songs on this album are more normal rock songs. Of course there had been a lot of these songs on earlier releases as well, but there are no epics and the songs are more stripped. You can still hear that it is Kansas playing though and for the hardcore fans this is still a worthy album allthough not great. Im not too impressed though.

Songs like On the Other Side, People of the South Wind and How My Soul Cries Out for You are ok songs in my ears, while other songs on this album are really boring.

Even though this is the best of Kansas "Bad albums" its not very good and I have to give this one 2 stars even though it might deserve 3, but I just dont enjoy it much.

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Posted Friday, November 09, 2007

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars To me this is where Kansas started losing the Progressive edge. Yes many bands had to evolve late 70's/early 80's and few managed it convincingly. At the same time one has to set aside personal predujices and assess the album as a whole. Monolith is not as good as it's predecessor Point of know Return but in the big scheme of things it is not a bad album overall. The album starts with the strong on the other Side arguably the best piece of music. Livgren the main contributor also on Reason To Be'. Away from you' another good tune. This album gets two and half stars for lack of consistency. It is not because it was sounding more AOR/mainstream just in that the material does not sound as convincing.

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Posted Saturday, February 09, 2008

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars For sure not a bad album, but from here Kansas is more mainstream, more like Toto, Survivor, Forigner. With all that the Kansas sound is still present, some pieces are real good like the opening track On the other side , How my soul cries out for you and i think the best piece from here A glimpse of home. The rest are so so, with a plus on People of the South wind, very cachy pop tune. What to add more, only that the album is well balanced, and is the band's first attempt at self-production in the studio. 3 stars for this one, not a msterpiece but a good album in every way.

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Posted Thursday, April 03, 2008

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Monolith might just be ultimate so-so album. It's enjoyable, but enjoyable to an extent and never as interesting as the classical albums. The AOR tendencies have started to creep into the bands sound, but compared to Audio-Vision, they are kept on a tighter leash here, never indulging in arena-style rock as on that release. I guess that this is what one could call their transitional album, acting as a middle-way between Point Of Know Return and Audio-Vision. So this is basically Kansas Light. The Prog-Related Kansas if that's a better description.

While Kansas have always maintained a balance between guitar and keys, the balance has shifted in favour of the former on Monolith. Standard gritty, distorted rock guitar riffing, acoustic chord work and the mandatory solo coupled with less unusual time signatures and straight-forward structure opens up for a heavier, ballsy sound the casual Kansas listener might feel slightly put off by. The keys, or rather just piano for the most part, returns in mellower parts, and it's leading form is re-shaped into an accentuating or atmospheric one, much like with other melodic rock bands from the time. Some loathed 80s-like synth has also snuck into the mix. Just listen to the intro of People Of The South Wind. It leaves a bad taste to the rest of the otherwise quite catchy tune.

The songs that are most 'Kansas' are probably On The Other Side, which features a classic odd-signatured pounding bass-drum section and Away From You. Violin-keys-interplay and that rolling feeling I just intimately think of as Kansas-esque make that one stand out. Oh, and Angels Have Fallen. Just a great mix of old and new.

Coming to think of it, in terms of progressiveness, Audio-Vision might take the first prize in competition with Monolith, since it has a skewed outline of blatant rock vulgarity and tasteful longer compositions. Monolith is a more consistent 'prog-related' effort, and even if that is a terribly vague description, that's what you get. It's an intense album, vibrant and fun to listen to, and you feel that the band's still working together in relative harmony. This is a planned changed direction, not a fight of interests as Audio-Vision. If in the mood for some up-tempo, classy rock, listen to Monolith. Will not bring any shame to your collections!

3 stars.

//LinusW

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Posted Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Indians in space!

Absolutely everything about Point Of Know Return had fallen into place; the inspiration, the production, the art work, etc., resulting in one of my favourite albums of all time. Leftoverture too was a masterpiece. So after two masterpieces in a row (three if you count the brilliant live album, Two For The Show), how would Kansas go on? Well, Monolith is clearly much less impressive, which is almost inevitable. And making the comparison in the first place is inevitable too, after all. But judged entirely on its own merits, Monolith is a great album!

Kerry Livgren wrote so very many fantastic songs present on previous Kansas albums. So it is understandable that sooner or later his inspiration would start to fade, and the Monolith material showed the first signs of the decline. But a decline from the highest of peaks does not mean that this is not still great and thoroughly enjoyable music. Three of the songs were written by Steve Walsh alone and a fourth is credited to him together with Robby Steinhardt and Rich Williams. Livgren's songs are generally the best ones, but the Walsh number Angels Have Fallen is a wonderful duet between Steinhardt and Walsh.

The band decided to produce this album themselves instead of relying on Jeff Glixman and they did a good job even if it is never the same as Glixman's brilliant work. Some of the songs are related to a native American tradition, so this might be seen as a very loose concept album perhaps. The art work features native Americans wearing space helmets and the title of the album could have been "Indians In Space" (the native American counterpart to Carmen's Fandangos In Space).

In terms of standout tracks, I would mention the opener On The Other Side, Angels Have Fallen, A Glimpse Of Home and the closer Reason To Be. The only song I don't like very much is Stay Out Of Trouble, but it is well-hidden and quite forgivable.

All in all, Monolith makes an excellent addition to any collection that already features Point Of Know Return, Leftoverture, Song For America and Kansas' self-titled debut and as such it is highly recommended.

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Posted Sunday, August 03, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Monolith is by no means a bad album- on the contrary. It does, however, indicate a sharp decline in the importance of Kansas's music, and it reflects the rising turmoil among the band's personnel. There are a few outstanding tracks (mostly thanks to the masterful Kerry Livgren), and almost everything else here is at least decent. More than ever, Steve Walsh wanted a more conventional arena rock sound, and this is apparent when listening to his input on this album (and on the next, for that matter). Of all the Kansas albums employing the classic lineup, this one is the least consistent, largely I suspect, because, of the eight tracks, not a single one was the result of a collaboration between Livgren and Walsh.

"On the Other Side" This is one of two songs on this album that carry the classic Kansas sound. It's outstanding, in the same bracket as underrated gems like "Hopelessly Human" or "The Devil Game." The music ranges from intense to beautiful, and the final verse builds nicely to the chorus.

"People of the South Wind" It's like Kansas doing a good cover of a bad 1970's television theme song, really, if such a thing is imaginable. That said, it's not awful; it's a song that can prove highly pleasurable if one is in the mood to listen to it. I myself have enjoyed this one numerous times. The guitar solo is uncomplicated but respectable.

"Angels Have Fallen" Starting out like a dirge, with quiet acoustic guitar and violin, Robby Steinhardt sings over a lonely piano before the song quickly becomes an explosive plea for help from Steve Walsh. There is a spirited guitar solo over the chorus chords, after which the song comes to abrupt halt to give way to power chords and another guitar solo. Shortly thereafter, there is a graceful piano interlude, over which Walsh soon begins singing. The song has a strong finish that wanes to let the piano and violin give us the final notes. It's an amazing song, one that is sadly overlooked.

"How My Soul Cries Out for You" A high-energy rocker, the guitar interlude between verses (with the lovely violin flourishes) has real potential, but the song fails to realize most of it. The lyrical content is banal at best (about what one would expect from Steve Walsh at the time). The instrumental middle section tries to be progressive rock, but doesn't quite cut it. Then there's something unheard of in a Kansas studio album: The outlandish sound of someone throwing a bottle at someone else. The rest of the song consists of a muddled drum solo from Ehart, the chorus, and a blistering guitar solo.

"A Glimpse of Home" This is the second song with the classic Kansas sound, and boasts a more sophisticated composition. There are several lively moments and excellent guitar work in the middle. The lyrics are definitely from the hand of Livgren, who would write years later that the song was not about Christianity, but about Urantia. Like "The Wall," however, the words would prove prophetic to him as he came to embrace Christianity. The ending is sublime.

"Away from You" This is a fair Steve Walsh composition- the opening is exceptional, but by the time the chorus comes around, we're back to goofy pop-rock. The musical interlude is absolutely brilliant, and I wish Walsh had kept that feel throughout, maybe even leaving off the silly vocal melodies. With "The Spider," he had already shown how terrific he could be when he wasn't trying to be a mainstream rock star.

"Stay Out of Trouble" Not a bad song, this is in the vein of the grittier, bluesy side of Kansas (like "Down the Road" and "Lonely Street"). It is a guitar-dominated song, and the riffs are solid.

"Reason to Be" Strangely for a Kansas album, the last song is not a progressive rock masterpiece, but a lighthearted and simple song. It's an enjoyable short one, with strummed acoustic guitar and whimsical violin. I liked it the first time I heard it.

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Posted Monday, December 01, 2008

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I'm very stunned in the least to say that for a Kansas album, MONOLITH is very ho-hum/run-of- the-mill in terms of the overall sound. Everything you expect about the Kansas sound is still there and in relative abundance, but the overall songwriting seems to have slipped into generic hard rock. There isn't anything wrong with that, it's just that compared to earlier Kansas albums, it's a disappointment.

As I am trying to write comments on the album, I find it very hard to pinpoint exactly what to say, especially on the points of why I don't like it and why I gave it a maligning rating. I like hard rock, but that genre gets too old too quickly since I feel that the ''main hard rock sound'' is too stagnant and never evolves. I feel that Kansas takes on the ''stagnant hard rock'' sound on this album with traces of their prog past. There's really no other explanation I've got.

To be honest, the barroom boogie feel of ''How My Soul Cries Out For You'' is the most memorable MONOLITH tune in my mind (say that five times fast). There's also an interesting acoustic guitar lick in ''Away From You'' and a few guitar solos are of a worthy mention. But, if you're very into prog rock and don't know Kansas, don't go here. Try any album that came earlier first. This one is for those who already love Kansas, or for those who can stomach ''People of the South Wind''.

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Posted Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars On the day this album was first released, I bought it, listened to it a few times, and filed it away. Now, after all these years, I've finally listened to it again. Maybe my tastes have changed, maybe I'm just comparing it to Kansas' later releases, but this album isn't as bad as I remember it. While it is nowhere near as good as any of the preceding albums, it is better than any of the studio albums to follow. There are no absolute mind blowing prog moments, but there are enough technically interesting sections to make this worth picking out of a cutout bin, if you can still find it after all of these years.

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Posted Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars "Monolith" is a very hard KANSAS album to review, because it's obvious they have already left their peak behind, but still the classic and melancholic essence is there, most surely we won't listen the vast majority of "Monolith" songs on a concert of the band (Except maybe "On the Other side"), but there's not a bad track in all the disk (Most are average)..

Some tracks like "People of the South Wind" are very close to the AOR sound of the 80's but still the characteristic sound of Kerry's violin is enough to maintain the interest of the listener. On the other hand, songs like "A Glimpse of Home" present us the delicate blend of Hard Rock, Symphonic and Country that made them famous.

If I am asked to chose one song, I will go wit the brilliant "Away from You", that takes me back to 1976 when KANSAS released the fantastic "Leftoverture", but we are only talking about reflections of the past, because it's not a solid release, or maybe KANSAS set the bar to high with their previous albums.

Well due to he fact that the original lineup is complete (despite the internal problems) and being able to listen Steve's voice still in the highest level, makes me rate "Monolith" with no less than 3 stars.

II usually write very long reviews, but in this case, there's not much to say about a release that is a great addition only for KANSAS diehard fans, but an average album for most Progressive Rock listeners.

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Posted Friday, May 28, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars The end of the '70s was generally not the best period for progressive music bands and while Kansas did manage to keep excellence throughout 1976 and 1977, 1979 was where they would bite the dust.

Kansas' last 70's album was clearly not the graceful conclusion to a great era that I was hoping for. Their traditional style is definitely still in place but the song quality is subpar at best. I'm not even going to talk about flawed concept of this album and instead concentrate on what's good about this release. Monolith features two great AOR hits. I really enjoy On The Other Side for its monumental buildup but even thought it's easily the best track out of this bunch, the song would feel pretty average on any of the band's previous releases. People Of The South Wind does come off like a cheap stab at a radio hit but the I can't argue against it since Kansas were still great at delivering this type of hit material.

This is probably not the best album to begin an exploration of Kansas with. I would suggest to start with, the debut album, Leftoverture or Point Of Know Return, in no particular order. Monolith is an interesting lesson in what can happen when a band tries to satisfy both the critics and the fans at the same time.

***** star songs: On The Other Side (6:23)

**** star songs: People Of The South Wind (3:38)

*** star songs: Angels Have Fallen (6:37) How My Soul Cries Out For You (5:44) A Glimpse Of Home (6:34) Away From You (4:23) Reason To Be (3:50)

** star songs: Stay Out Of Trouble (4:13)

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Posted Sunday, October 03, 2010

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Monolith is the album that marks the point where Kansas lost their creativity. All of the songs here were obviously meant to be radio hits, although the only song that I know of that actually was a hit is "People of the South Wind", which is actually one of the better tracks on this album. The songs are of decent length, and I hear some great motifs in the music that I always expect to become more developed, but soon after any of the tracks start to get interesting... they end. This is still above-par radio rock, which makes this good enough music. It just doesn't live up to any of the work that Kansas had done prior to this.

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Posted Monday, April 11, 2011

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Portrait of a band in decline.

After producing a string of four and five star albums (hell, I'd round them all up to five), the magic seemed to have gone out. I don't think they produced anything as good as what came before until 2000's Somewhere To Elsewhere. Even though I had the LP back when the album was new, I didn't bother to get a CD copy until 2003. It's not really a bad album, just uninspired. I think the problem is that they were going for more commercially accessible music and the next one after this one Audio-Visions continued the trend after which the classic band lineup would be no more.

So, what's good on here? Pretty much all the songs but alas nothing really great on here.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#639547) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012

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2 stars Kansas: Monolith This album represents the down fall of Kansas. The band seems to have lost its creative spark. Though it may still be progressive it is a boring uninspired attempt. It starts out well with the song "On The Other Side" which probably my favorite song on here, it is a well writ ... (read more)

Report this review (#293535) | Posted by kawkaw123 | Thursday, August 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kansas' 1979 album "Monolith" was initially disappointing. Listening to lines about "The empty page before me now, the pen is in my hand, the words don't come so easy", I felt like they had writers block and had a lack of inspiration upon the first listen or so. However after a few listens the ... (read more)

Report this review (#282112) | Posted by Brendan | Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Monolith broke the "great" streak Kansas had going with their preceding 4 albums, SOng For AMerica, Masque, Leftoverture, and Point. All 4 of these I will eventually get around to reviewing and they will all get at least 4 stars. They are the pinnacle of Kansas's career as a band. This album, ... (read more)

Report this review (#276595) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 06, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Oops........ I am getting onto a bad start with Kansas. The PA reviews is telling me that this is one of their weaker albums. It is typical my luck that it is on the top of the list of Kansas albums I will review. It starts OK with the rather good On the other side. It is a nice AOR number. ... (read more)

Report this review (#239079) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, September 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I know that very few Kansas fans would agree with me but, IMHO, the band's best period goes from Masque to Audio-Visions (included). So Monolith is on my list. Let's state it clearly, though : there is not one song here that I would include in my personal Kansas anthology. I could easily find ... (read more)

Report this review (#119789) | Posted by Bupie | Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I had a very hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars for this album. It is right on the border. On one hand all of the songs on this album are very, very solid. On the other had...all of the songs are very solid; none really stand out as being terrific. Lacking are Kansas's grand masterpieces, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#93588) | Posted by Nowhere Man | Friday, October 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ahh Kansas. I started off with point of know return and leftoverture, this album is not like them at all. It seems to be geared more to hard rocking than intricate arrangements, but never the less it is an excellent album although not necesarily a progressive one. Exteremely catchy with many r ... (read more)

Report this review (#60579) | Posted by jamesrulz1 | Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A true masterpiece. As much today as in 1979, released on May/23/1979. it sounds timeless ,as written with the help of angelic beings , sitting in their own dimension. smiling down upon the earth like a starry night. yes it is the real "point of know return". "the time is here, some feel the fear ... (read more)

Report this review (#21861) | Posted by | Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've bought all the albums at one time or another. By far, this is my favorite! I saw the Monolith tour in Johnstown, PA, front row. I had most of the songs memorized prior to the Concert. They played the entire album without flaw. It was a superb spiritual experience. The music of this al ... (read more)

Report this review (#21857) | Posted by | Monday, June 07, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Keep your money to buy candies or... a pack of beer :). Kansas was commercial with Point of Know Return (with still some good tracks) and now Kansas is... on the other side (the dark side or the wrong side for me). Away from you ! ... (read more)

Report this review (#21845) | Posted by Tauhd Zaa | Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A brilliant record, not supported on the face of it by many standout tracks- just working as a titanic whole. Livgren had lost the hit single knack by now, with the frankly laughable disco-lite of POTSW being the best the band could manage, 45s-wise. But killer album tracks such as Angels Have Falle ... (read more)

Report this review (#21851) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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