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AUDIO-VISIONS

Kansas

Symphonic Prog


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Kansas Audio-Visions album cover
3.04 | 175 ratings | 23 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Relentless (4:55)
2. Anything for you (3:56)
3. Hold on (3:45)
4. Loner (2:26)
5. Curtain of iron (6:08)
6. Got to rock on (3:19)
7. Don't open your eyes (4:03)
8. No one together (6:54)
9. No room for a stranger (2:55)
10. Back door (4:20)

Total Time: 42:44

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Cd. Legacy ZK 66417

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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KANSAS Audio-Visions ratings distribution


3.04
(175 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
25%
Good, but non-essential (43%)
43%
Collectors/fans only (22%)
22%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

KANSAS Audio-Visions reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
1 stars 1.5 stars really!!

After the all-too-even Monolith with no stand ?out tracks, Kansas approached the 80's with a very modern artwork that could only spell trouble to the classic-era fan, even if the classic logo is still used. Little did they (fans) know that this would be the last album with Walsh for quite a while too. The drive towards radio-friendly FM/AOR is definitely on with Audio-Visions as there are 10 tracks with 5 of them under the four minutes mark and two more just over it. Returning to the artwork, you get the feeling that they used the Journey sleeve-artiste, but also used the same studio and producer, because this AOR stuff is as insufferable, minis the awful Perry vocals.

The first few tracks are made from nervous/edgy hard-rocking rock, but there is no finesse and convey such bland messages in the lyrics that you're quite surprised that Livgren mentions "the City Of Gold" in Curtain Of Iron, the longest and closing track of the A-side. It is easily the best track of the album, but most likely one wouldn't sacrifice a 70's track in a trade for this one. The flipside fares no better with four atrocious Journey meets REO or Foreigner-type of FM rock tracks, and the better longer No One Together, the only track with a bit of finesse and instrumental interplay (but once again not really tradable with anything in classic albums). Nothing worth saving on this album, unless a completist.

I told you the fall from greatness was long and we have not touched bottom yet (for a few albums yet). but this was to be a nail into their coffin (artistically anyway), This is their first I would warn you against. I think it is no wonder Walsh left after this one, and trouble was at hand, when he would get replaced by that atrocious Elefante character, that would simply ruin the band's credibility soon after.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#21866) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is rather more sophisticated hard rock than complex progressive. More accessible, the keyboards seem to take a break. The violin is less present. The compositions are more pop oriented, despite the instruments fully load all the songs. The sound is good and all the instruments are well played. We fill again like on "Monolith" the dilution of the prog style here, and it seems to disappoint many fans.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#21867) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I think we're still in KANSAS. Their balloon was always half-inflated with hot air anyway, so a shift in balance from prog to pomp, rock to pop, is less striking than it might have been. Yet the scales have slipped in favor of pedestrian music, notably on the songs written by STEVE WALSH ("Got To Rock On", "Back Door", "Anything For You"). The old magic resurfaces in spurts on KERRY LIVGREN's contributions, though some may find their enthusiasm tempered by overtly Christian themes. It's nice that Livgren's pursuit of the godhead is "Relentless", but not everyone will share his enthusiasm. "Hold On" is enjoyable outside of its religious context, and thus made a fine choice for a single. And yet it isn't until halfway through "Audio-Visions" that the band kicks up some progressive dust with "Curtain of Iron" (which presumably speaks to a religious reawakening in Eastern Europe). The ship rights itself by album's end, thanks to substantive songs like "Don't Open Your Eyes" and "No One Together", but it's still no match for "Leftoverture"'s leftovers. Now that riding on the prog bubble no longer elevated their status, acts like KANSAS abandoned long-winded instrumental passages in favor of what would come to be called arena rock, a label that included Uriah Heep and Styx among others.

Few prog bands enjoyed the courage of their convictions and commercial success in the '80s, though it's possible that KANSAS had simply outlived its original purpose (apparently WALSH felt so, leaving after this album). Whether the motivation was evolution or economics, artistic compromise or commoditization, "Audio-Visions" suggests that KANSAS had passed the point of no return as it pertained to prog.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#21868) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 01, 2004

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Audio-Visions came out on the heels of the Monolith album, which I personally felt was a creative and brilliant progression for the band, but was not particularly well- received by most critics. The growing rift between Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren was by now well-known to most fans. Both had released solo albums the same year, and rumors of Walsh’s departure had been swirling since the Point of Know Return tour. There were also reports of excessive drug and alcohol use on the part of Walsh (hinted at but never openly confirmed in band interviews throughout the period), which may in fact have been exacerbating the problems in the band. Most fans though believed the primary concern had to do with philosophical differences between Livgren and Walsh, particularly over the heavily spiritual emphasis in Livgren’s writing. In a nutshell, Steve wanted to party and Kerry wanted to pray. Not a productive combination. Walsh was in somewhat of a slump during this period, and in selecting the tracks for the album, the band preferred Livgren’s compositions over the few that Walsh was able to produce. There was pressure from record executives as well, considering the disappointing sales of Monolith after three consecutive multi-platinum albums.

It must have been tremendously uncomfortable in the studio during the recording of Audio-Visions. Kerry had presented the band with a handful of very solid arrangements, but was unbending in the zealousness of his newfound faith to change the lyrical focus away from the Cross. Walsh, and to a lesser extent, Williams and Ehart, were not as inclined to turn the group into a traveling revival show, but an album was due to the record label, and the group as a whole preferred the quality of Livgren’s work over what Walsh was producing at the time. In addition to Walsh’s solo effort, it was well-known he was shopping for another outlet for his musical talents. He had reportedly auditioned with Bad Company (confirmed years later in an interview with Ehart). He did of course leave Kansas following this release, resurfacing less than a year later with Billy Greer and the other members of Streets, a decidedly straight-ahead rock band.

Many fans point to Monolith as the beginning of some sort of downward slide for the band, but I disagree. While sales dropped off after the release of Point of Know Return, I’m not at all convinced it was necessarily because the quality of the band’s work was slumping. If anything their musicianship and technical skill was being well- honed by years of nearly constant touring. I find it somewhat ironic that the same prog critics who point to the declining popularity of the band in the early 1980’s are some of the same people who accuse Kansas of being more vapid and AOR simply because of their brief mass appeal. In my opinion, the quality of the music on Audio- Visions is every bit as good as that on their previous works. What was changing was both the relationship of the band’s members to each other, and the fickle tastes of the listening public.

The songs themselves are an essential part of this band’s history and progression.

If it weren’t for the lyrics, “Relentless” could easily be mistaken for a song written by Steve Walsh. Rich William’s potent guitar licks and Phil Ehart’s machine-gun drumbeat accent Steve Walsh’s powerful voice perfectly. I never understood why this was not released as a featured single for the AOR market. Frankly, it was only the fact that Kansas still had a considerable reputation and ardent following at the time that caused this album to climb to #26 on the Billboard charts and sell the half- million copies required for a gold rating. It’s hard to believe “Relentless” wouldn’t have easily cracked the FM Top-40 list, and would likely have propelled the album to platinum status. The song also introduces a new feature seen throughout the album, namely the plethora of backing vocals, not exactly a Kansas signature sound up to this point in their career. At one point or another, every member of the band got some voice time in on the album, along with Livgren, Ehart, and William’s wives, something called the ‘Four Bassmen’, and Jeff Jelf, a career studio vocalist who also appeared on Livgren’s Seeds of Change solo earlier that year. This song was not penned by Walsh though, but by Livgren. Coming less than a year after Kerry and Dave Hope’s conversions to Christianity, nearly all of the Livgren songs (“Relentless”, “Hold On”, and “Curtain of Iron”) were drenched in gospel-tinted themes. The one exception was “No One Together”, an apparent castoff from the Monolith sessions. I remember very well hearing this song for the first time, about 12 seconds after I left the Musicland record store where I had purchased it the morning it was released. Steve Walsh’s voice was still in prime form, and aside from the near absence of Steinhardt’s trademark violin, this was a promising introduction to what I anticipated would be another album whose grooves I would rapidly wear out. The interplay of keyboards by Walsh and Livgren are quintessential Kansas. Easily four stars.

“Anything for You” is somewhat more subdued, and rather brief for a Kansas song, clocking in at just under four minutes. This is a Walsh tune, and features plaintiff piano chords and a choppy, sometimes awkward beat that is characteristic of much of Walsh’s work. While the song is actually a kind of pleading love song, it came on the heels of “Relentless”, so lyrics like “I could lead an army to victory or win in a race, I could do it if only I knew that you’d save me a place” were understandably mistaken for some fans as another Savior tribute (as in, “that You’d save me a place”). Again, William’s guitar work is fresh and aggressive, and really saves what would be an otherwise average tune (although average for these guys still beats most of whatever else was on the market at the time). The one negative is the fadeout ending, something I find particularly annoying. It strikes me as an admission that the band couldn’t some up with a creative way to bring the song to a cohesive ending. Let’s say 3.5 stars for this one.

“Hold On” was the first of two singles for the album, and it managed to just crack the Billboard Top-40 list for a brief period late in 1980. This is another obvious Livgren psalm, given away by lyrics like “outside your door He is waiting for you, sooner or later you know He’s got to come through”. I’m not sure if the guitar bridge here is Williams or Livgren, but it is clear, clean, and quite beautiful. Steinhardt’s violin riffs are plaintive, and more prevalent here than anywhere else on the album. Walsh ends the song with a trademark sustained vocal that is vintage Kansas. Another four star effort that spent several months alongside the late single release of Monolith’s “Reason To Be” on FM airwaves throughout the American midwest.

“Loner” is the second Walsh song on the album, and one of the shortest the band ever recorded. Williams hits the floor running and doesn’t let up for 2-1/2 minutes with some wicked fret work. Walsh’s soaring vocals are well-grounded by Steinhardt’s backing, and are well-punctuated by rolling drum work by Ehart. Not even remotely prog, but just as much part of the Kansas trademark sound as earlier songs like “Bringing it Back” and “Down the Road”. Let’s say 3.5 stars.

The vinyl version wraps up side one with “Curtain of Iron”, which is very reminiscent of the back side of Monolith, ala “A Glimpse of Home” or “Reason to Be”. Here again Steinhardt delivers strong supporting vocals, although in a few places I’m pretty sure it’s Livgren’s voice drifting in and out. The subject is apparently a Livgren version of a ‘Save the Children’ commercial describing the godless plight of children is Eastern Europe. Not a common theme for the band, but lyrics aside, the overall sound is solid enough. In typical Livgren fashion, there is a bit of cheekiness, in this case the impish children’s choir that pipes in a couple of times (song about children, children helping tell the story, very subtle…). Three stars, mostly for the solid vocals and guitar work.

“Got to Rock On” was the other single from the album. It cracked the Top-100 in early 1981, but disappeared quickly. This is another typical Walsh composition about fighting off age and obsolescence through the magic of jamming. Walsh’s voice seems a bit flat here, and the lyrics are pretty much throwaway, but I suppose this one satisfied some contractual obligation for a radio hit. Three stars.

“Don’t Open Your Eyes” is a joint effort by everyone except Steinhardt. This is apparently a story about the boogyman (“don’t open your eyes too soon ‘cause it might be me”). The last time all the band members collaborated on a song the result was the epic “Magnum Opus”. This time the result is not quite as profound, but the keyboard-heavy arrangement is an interesting change to an album that otherwise features more of Rich Williams and Phil Ehart than any other Kansas recording. Walsh’s voice is a bit contrived and again seems rather strained, apparently a precursor of things to come. I’m not sure if the boys are just trying to be clever, are entertaining themselves, or just needed four minutes of filler, but this one should have been relegated to a single B-side somewhere. 2.5 stars just for the brief violin work toward the end.

“No One Together” is the final Livgren tune on the album, and the most out-of-place on the record. That’s not to say it’s a bad song – it just stands out among the others for a couple of reasons. Unlike his other contributions to Audio-Visions, Livgren penned this song in 1979, and apparently prior to his religious conversion. The Kumbaya theme stands in stark contrast to the gospel message in his other compositions (“we’re all together, harmony will abound”), and the overall feeling lacks the sense of fulfillment and purpose that his other works exude. Also, I can’t really put my finger on why, but this track strikes me as having been recorded apart from the others on the album. The drums seem more muffled and distant, and the keyboard work is much plainer than elsewhere on the record. Overall this one is probably 3.5 stars.

Williams and Walsh paired up to product “No Room for a Stranger”, which is to say it sounds like something they might have written during a late-night drinking session, perhaps even during the recording of Walsh’s solo album that year. The theme is of a hard-drinking he-man who was ‘done wrong’ by his lady. Very somber and intense guitar work by Williams, apparently Walsh with mostly plain piano keyboards, and I suspect very little involvement by Livgren or Hope. Three stars.

The album closes with the introspective “Back Door”, another Walsh tune very much in the vein of his solo album’s more somber tracks. This is another sparse tune, piano and passive drumbeat, wispy violin playing in an out. Here again Walsh and Steinhardt deliver harmonious vocals, with another annoying fade-away ending, this one complete with what sounds like a cavalry march. 2.5 stars to end the album.

All told, this album is far more important for it’s historical significance for the band than for the actual music on it. Walsh would leave shortly after Audio-Visions released, replaced by his vocal clone John Elephante. By the time Walsh returned for the 1986 recording Power, Elephante was gone, but so were Steinhardt, Hope, and Livgren. Only Steinhardt would eventually return, nearly two decades later, and other than the aberration Somewhere to Elsewhere, the six of them would never work in the studio together again.

This album has a special meaning for me since it was released the same year I graduated from high-school and left home for college. In that way it not only symbolized the end of the 70’s, but also the end of childhood, and the end of this incarnation of a band I had pretty much grown up with. I expect the same would have been true for hundreds of thousands of other kids who were turned on to Kansas in their early teen years, and were by 1980 entering adulthood. For that reason I believe Audio-Visions deserves a bit of a bonus, and qualifies as an excellent addition to any serious prog fan’s collection, and therefore a rating of four stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#64315) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Accepting the baton passed off by Dan earlier, Audio-Visions will always be a favorite of mine. He's right that at this point the band was shifting from a prog band first, to a prog band with hit making tendencies. At the time it was released, I was around 12 or 13, so I liked it because it satisfied those needs at the time.

I was just a Steve Walsh nut back then, and thought if he'd sing the phone book, I'd buy it. I believe Audio- Visions (if anything) really shows off what a great rock vocalist Walsh was. Some of the songs had a more grittier tone to his voice, as "Relentless" still remains one of my favorite Kansas tunes.

Songs like "Got To Rock On" and "Loner" strike me as being leftovers from his first solo album Schemer Dreamer. Good tunes, but they pretty much sound like Steve Walsh trying to break away from the songs about either religion, history, or greek mythology. He's like an adolescent trying so hard to show his independence.

I do love the more prog moments in "Curtain Of Iron" and "No One Together". To me, these are classic Kansas tunes. Stuff that we all know and love. AV is a good album, just not the great Kansas album.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#70550) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars First off, before talking about the music, the cover artwork of this album is excellent and it fits with the album title i.e. something about audio and about the future. That's a good start already to collect this album. With a good artwork it helps articulate the overall opinion about an album. Musically, this album is not as strong as their early efforts with albums like "Leftoverture", "Song for America" or their debut album. However it's not a bad album at all. The composition is straight forward but every segment of the music contains rich textures comprising a bit complex combination of violin, guitar, keyboard and even xylophone.

The album opener "Relentless" has its root in classic Kansas music with a bit melodic vocal section combined with piano. The music flows in pop style with some nice interludes with keyboard and good guitar solo. For my taste, this is an enjoyable track especially when I hear original Kansas sound in the forms of Steve Walsh lead vocals and unique guitar solo ala Kerry Livgren. "Anything For You" starts off with good piano work combined with guitar fills and good vocal shot sung together. "Hold On" was a radio hit and people would easily know this track. The violin works characterizes Kansas music. "Loner' is a hard rock in relatively fast tempo with good guitar work. Again, I like the part when vocals are sung together.

"Curtain of Iron" is one of my favorite tracks out of this album especially with the violin based music at the opening and the music turns down into quiet part with piano and vocals. It's really good. It moves in good melody with transparent vocal of Steve Walsh augmented with female choirs. The song has wider variety of styles reminiscent of "Leftoverture" album (it reminds me to the song "Child of Innocence"). Of course I really love the violin solo performed in the middle of the track. "Got To Rock On" brings the music back to straight forward structure and style. "Don't Open Your Eyes" is another good track with impressive opening which really demonstrate the sound of Kansas- especially during intro part.

"No One Together" has a powerful lyrics and good composition. "Centuries of backward ways have many left behind us ." backed with good combination of violin, piano and guitar. Yes this track is packed with music textures exploring the work of violin, keyboard and guitar in relatively fast tempo. Compared with other tracks, this one is more complex. The use of Xylophone reminds me to "Magnum Opus". It's a well composed track with powerful songwriting and performance.

"No Room for Stranger" has a bit of bluesy style performed in medium tempo with good combination of rhythm section texture. Not only guitar that demonstrates obvious sounds but bass guitar sounds really tight. The interlude part with guitar solo is very interesting. "Back Door" is another good concluding track.

Overall, it's a good album by Kansas even though not their best. If you listenb to it with an open mind, you would find this album has good music textures. What is lacking, probably, is the melody which does not sound natural to many ears. I think. The good thing is that I still can enjoy good lyrics, tidy music sound combining violin (my favorite), guitar and keyboard. Overall, it's good even though not essential. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#73519) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006

Review by WaywardSon
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars If you can picture a marriage on the rocks, or a ship without a captain, you will get a general feel of the album Audiovisions. The tracklist just doesnīt seem to flow when you have Kerry Livgren going in one direction (At this time he had really discovered Christianity and wanted to tell everyone about it!) and Steve Walsh (Feeling uncomfortable with singing overly Chritianized lyrics and wanting a more rockish approach)

The album opens with "Relentless" which would be a good track for a rock band (but this is Kansas) The song is basically how Livgren has changed since becoming a Christian. It is a good "rock" track. This is followed by "Anything for you" which is quite a nice rocker. "Hold On" is a great ballad by Livgren, and one of the strongest songs on the album. "Loner" is proof that Walsh still has his great voice and the song is another rock song, a bit mediocre in fact. "Curtain of Iron" is actually a very good song, (almost bordering on progresive)

Then comes the horrible "Got to rock on" followed by the even worse "Donīt close your eyes" I really donīt know how these two tracks were allowed to be on this album!

After that double nightmare comes the gem of the album, the classic "No One Together" Complex writing by Livgren at his best! The lyrics are about society as we are and how we could be if there was a bit more love in the world. Very frightening song with an optimistic ending. "No room for a stranger" is a great bluesy rock type song and is one of the better songs on this album. "Back Door" sounds like some rehashed idea from Monolith, and just doesnīt really seem to work that well.

"Hold On " and "No One Together" are on The Ultimate Kansas compilation, so why buy this for about three good songs? I am a big fan of the band but I canīt give this more than two stars.

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Send comments to WaywardSon (BETA) | Report this review (#83477) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The highs of the band is obviously past history (IMO the first two albums were the best ones).

The opener "Relentless" is one the best song of the album. Nice vocals, subtle piano at times and catchy melody. The AOR flavour is very present though. "Anything for You" is a good rock number, but nothing extraordinary. The rock ballad "Hold On" has a catchy melody and features s a nice guitar break in the middle section.

From time to time, we even get a true hard-rocking Kansas song like in the good old days. "Loner" is one of them and is one of the best moments ogf this album together with "Curtain Of Iron" which is a more traditional Kansas song : longer composition, more sophisticated with rythm and theme changes. Good violin break as well. Basically, all the ingredients that makes a good Kansas song.

The worse is reached with "Got to Rock on" : tasteless, repetitive and bad FM music. When you look at the lenght of "Don't Open your Eyes" you might think : this is another Kansas epic. Well, the melody is nice, there is are interesting intrumental breaks here and there; good rock parts as well. This track is rather pleasant, featuring lots of mood changes. A grand finale would have been welcomed. A good song, overall.

"No Room for a Stranger" is not a great song although that vocals are generally very nice. It has a jazzy flavour which is not (but you know that jazz is not my cup of tea). The closing number "Back Door" is a quit and pleasant tune. A nice ballad Then, "No One Together" : very good intrumental parts (lots of violin), great harmonious vocals, fabulous rythm (good bass and drumming). This is Kansas as I was used to. The best song of the album and one of the ten best Kansas ever. "Audio-Visions" was the last of seven straight Kansas albums to go gold or platinum and the last album made by the group's most successful lineup.

It is not a bad effort. Some good to even very good moments. Not a masterpiece but a decent effort. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#118436) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars To understand this recording I think some history of the band at that time needs to be brought to light. There were three Kansas related albums released in 1980. Solo albums by the main writers Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh detracted heavily from this one. In hindsight Kansas maybe should have taken the year off but I am sure pressure from CBS made them do an album anyway. After the huge success of Leftoverture and Point of Know Return Steve Walsh was having a lot of people whisper in his ear that he didn't need Kansas. Steve had already quit once but was talked back into coming back. Steve was seeing himself as rock singer in the lines of his hero Paul Rodgers. He wanted more mainstream music with a harder edge to it and was pushing the band in that direction. So much so that he got the band to drop Livgren's No One Together from Monolith! Livgren on the other hand had just converted to Christianity and was struggling to find himself as the musician and artist he was versus his vision of himself now, a man of God. The rest of the members were desperately trying to figure out how they could keep afloat through all of this instability and change.

So we come to the album. Of course we know that both Walsh and Livgren did not pony up, what they felt, were their best songs and reserving them for their solo albums. So Audio Visions is already crippled by this. Got Rock On, Loner and Anything for You were better suited for Steve solo album Schemer Dreamer than they were for Kansas. In fact Steve had stopped writing prog after Closet Chronicles on POKR. Of Livgren's less than prog fare here we have Relentless and Hold On the latter being the single released from the album. Better than Walsh's offering to be sure but Kerry has written better. (Although the guitar solo in Hold On still has some meaning for me.) Livgren did contribute two proggier songs in Curtain of Iron and the song left off Monolith No One Together (Livgren said he wrote this song particularly because he felt Kansas was moving too far away from this kind of song) there along with Walsh's Back Door represent the highlights of this album. The other two songs No room for a stranger penned by Walsh and Rich Williams is forgettable and the other is a band composition Don't Open Your Eyes Too Soon is not bad. Kind of a spooky song but with good energy.

So taken this all into consideration the three songs make this a two star album for me. As some mentioned you can get the best songs for this on other compilations so buying this one is for collectors only. Outside of No One Together, Hold On and Curtain of Iron I do not listen to this whole album anymore. If Kerry Livgren had decided to contribute Mask of the Great Deceiver, Ground Zero and Just One Way from his solo album Seeds Of Change this album might have been among Kansas best instead of their worst.

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Send comments to Garion81 (BETA) | Report this review (#119251) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have almost the same opinion about this album as for Kansas previous efford: very good for the the time it was released, a minor CD in their classic discography. In fact, in many aspects I like this one more than Monolith. Times had changed, and for an american band to survive it had to change too, at least in some aspects. And Kansas did it without sacrifying its original spirit: after all, they always had a hard rock side. And there are enough prog elements here (notably in No One Together) to satisfy non radical prog heads..

I think Audio Visions is more balanced and regular album than Monolith. It could be their beginning ofa new path. But unfortunatly the tensions between Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren would prevent that. They had completely different ideals at the time and itīs really amazing how they would still make such this album at all.

With very good tracks and using their tight musicanship to their favor, Audio Visions is a very good album that sometimes borders the excellency. Unfortunatly is much maligned and misunderstood. If youīre a Kansas fan and hear it with no prejudice you might find some forgotten gems. If you like prog rock in general, then chances are you might like it a lot. I did.

Not really essential, but still a fine record by this great band. 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#140743) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is just awful. Monolith was an ok album allthough not impressive, but this is just too eighties Hard rock edged. Monolith was the start of the end but with Audio-Visions there is no way back. I think the fans at this time realised that the dream was over and the nightmare was about to begin.

Relentless starts the album and itīs a very mediocre hard rock track with an awful chorus which is very eighties like. This keeps up on tracks like Loner and Got to Rock On. Most of the other songs are really boring mid tempo rockers with too nice choruses. There is absolutely no bite on this album. The most interessting songs for prog heads would probably be: Curtain of Iron, Donīt Open Your Eyes and No One Together. On these songs you can still hear that Kansas was once a great band ( itīs only been two years since Two for the Show).

Thankfully there is nothing here that is downright disgusting as there would be on later albums, but that doesnīt make this one much better. Only for the hardcore fans.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#149675) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 09, 2007

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
2 stars After quickly being engulfed by Kansas' unique sound a couple of years ago, they seemed like an unstoppable force to me. Every single album was either great, excellent or magnificent and were quickly mounted on a pedestal of both admiration and uniqueness in my otherwise prog-related hard rock/heavy metal world. And while still in this bubble, the downfall of the band was just as notable as it is today. It may have started with Monolith, but never was the decline as notable as on Audio-Visions.

It isn't a complete disaster yet. But songs like Relentless, Got To Rock On, Don't Open Your Eyes and No Room For A Stranger really make me cringe. I usually have no trouble listening to some AOR casually, especially since that's what I've been exposed to for the best part of my childhood. But this is Kansas after all, not Toto, even though Steve Walsh really does his best trying to transform the band into them. These songs are all full of arena-attitude, pumping rythms, pop-rock hooks and simple accessible structure. The enjoyable slimness and streamlining so often present with other AOR acts like the aforementioned Toto or Journey is lost in Kansas' hands. Because when they try to apply old habits on this new sound the end result feels overblown and yes, very cheesy. Kansas has always given a nod in hard rock's direction, but you can feel that the band isn't comfortable here. Fat and clumsy. Not everything is new, though. Robbie Steinhardt's violin is still here, but more in the background, there's still some traditional Kansas structure, shared vocal duties and familiar keys.

Some of Audio-Vision is actually really enjoyable, with feelings of the golden days of the '70s, but with a distinct modern sound. Curtain Of Iron and the trademark Kansas sound of No One Together stands out. Great jumpy and happy intro from the keys leading into a short, whirling solo run from Steinhardt and then back to keys, alone with Walsh. Vintage Kansas anyone? While the refrain is almost a Toto rip-off, it doesn't prevent me from melting. Curtain Of Iron's uses some choir girls and, pompous as it might be, it is decidedly epic. Could have been something on Leftoverture.

Two songs is hardly enough to make an album though, even with flashes of greatness widely dispersed in the other songs, and even with that considered, the albums inconsistency remains a serious flaw. There are two strong forces pulling at different directions here, and for fans of the band, this is hardly news. With Livgren brim-filled with born-again faith and Walsh hungry for the 'glorious' rock n roll lifestyle, this just couldn't work for much longer. The two interests are quite easy to pick up, making this two mini-albums side by side. Walsh quit after Audi-Vision and it would take a loooong time before Kansas returned to a sound like that of their golden era.

2 stars.

//LinusW

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Send comments to LinusW (BETA) | Report this review (#166087) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the release of Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren's solo albums, it would have been reasonable to expect that some sort of renewed and reneweing energy would found the core of the next Kansas album. But this was not the case, since Audio-Visions (not being IMO the disaster that many claim it to be) followed the creative downslide that was started in half of the Monolith material. Actually, these two albums bear a stronger sound production than most of the classic era albums, and there's a more featured presence of bass and drum kit in the mix, which in turn seems to motivate the guitar parts (either sole or dual) to create a more robust spirit. But this strength is never matcehd by an equally strong song writing. The fatc that the best rack in the album is the Livgren-penned 'No One Together', an unexpected leftover from Monolith, should give you an indication that the band was not getting closer to a genuine artistic rennaissance. Walsh and Livgren had built an abyss of void between them, with the former trying to take his ever-stronger arena-rock leanings to the band's helm and the latter procuring to tear the band's dramatic symphonic heritage asunder on behalf of a Christian art-rock scheme. Way to go, boys! - trying to make Kansas a mere extension of what you did on your solo efforts. The sign of times had already stated some standards for what was cool in North American rock, and Kansas was getting increasingly closer to tht standard. The loss of personality resulting of all this was the price to pay for a waning of the main writers' creative juices. Let's go to the repertoire now. 'Relentless' opens up the album on an enthusiastic vein, with attractive motifs beautifully intertwined in a catchy manner. This track sounds at times as a poor man's 'Carry On wayward Son', but if you check the live videos in Youtube, you will notice that in concert this track acquired a considerable dose of stamina. 'No One Together' is the real Livgren gem here, displaying a mind-blowing sequence of well-constructed melodic ideas in a most orchestral fashion: this track capitulates the spirit of the first 5 albums in a 7 minute span. 'Curtain of Iron' is not so well constructed, although here you can find some very good guitar solos. Less ambitious but more elegant (as well as catchier) is the beautiful ballad 'Hold On', really haunting - I only miss a major presence of violin, a thing that is properly updated in live renditions (Vinyl Confessions tour) and newer versions (Always Never the Same). The set of Walsh-penned songs is more irregular, since they go from self-indulgent AOR ('Anything for You', 'Got to Rock On') to straightforward hard rock ('Loner') to polished blues-rock ('No Room for a Stranger', co-authored by Williams) to symphonic prog ballad ('Back Door'). I mus tadmit that I find 'Got to Rock On' a very appealing song, conveniently ordained as to avoid the simplicity of the basic motif, but not enough as to avoid sounding generic (as an improved Foreigner, so to say). 'Loner' has some funny country undertones amidst the heavy rocking guitars. 'Back Door' is a majestic closure for the album: one of the most moving Walsh compositions ever, it includes a soaring violin solo, effective piano washes and a nice military-based conclusion. 'Don't Open Your Eyes' is an excercise on complex hard rock with both a vivid spirit and a scary overtone, much in tune with the schizophrenia-laden lyrics. It's quite a good song, but I wonder if this interesting idea couldn't have been developed further as to explore its epic potential further. Well, the epic thing is left to the whole 'No One Together' and the climatic ending of 'Back Door'. Just a very good album with an uneven tracklist: that's what Audio-Visions is. Something had to give in at this point of Kansas' career, and the line-up for the following album in this spiral of decay is proof that it did.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#168183) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 20, 2008

Review by JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Am I even hearing the same album as everyone else on here? I don't see why so many people think this is a bad album. Actually; it's quite good. Very good, actually, and I may even go so far as to say that it's a better album then MONOLITH in some ways. Every track on this album gets me full of energy, and I certainly don't find any fault in the harder edged experimentation. That's what progressive bands do; they progress! As for the claim that this is eighties pop garbage, that's false as well, as the violins, cellos and grand piano are still very prominent among the guitars, keyboards and bass. The vocals are still Kansas- esque as well, as are also the song construction and presentation. Still rather long track lengths for a supposed 'pop' record.

I just don't see where people are getting it. The end of Kansas' creativity? Maybe, for I have yet to listen to the next album in the cronology, but surely one must admit that if this is indeed the last good record by them, it was one helluva swan song! Perhaps the notion that a Symphonic band could retain its originality even into the eighties is a too difficult a pill to swallow for some, but this is after all only the start of that terrible decade for music, and while I'm sure Kansas DID become deluted and falsified over the next few years, AUDIO-VISIONS was not the instance when it happened.

Don't take my word for it, though; listen for yourself. If you can truely say that the album as a whole sounds like any other eighties pop ballad of the times, then by all means stick by that decision, as most of the members here will undoubtedly share that sentiment. But if you are like me and can actually understand what true progression is, I'm sure you will agree that hard rock tendancies to an otherwise irod clad prog record is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, the artwork looks like it belongs on a Meshuggah record rather than a Kansas work, but who cares? The music found within is still very organic and melodic and beautiful. Don't believe me? Try it out, at least once, before you start judging; for I feel that this album is highly underrated around these parts, and I have no good explanation as to why that is, unfortunately.

Four stars, truly. Hardly anything is wrong with this record, except perhaps that it is heavier than anything before it, but for every hard rocker there is a soft ballad to balance this thing out. I truly feel that it is a worthy addition to any progger's collection. Worthy, indeed.

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Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#171586) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 19, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Kansas's original lineup ceases with this album (even though they would briefly reconvene many years later), and it's easy to see why. Whether it was for spiritual differences between the two keyboardists Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren, musical differences, or lifestyle differences, the damage was done and the former would depart after this record. As with the previous album, the music is not of the same caliber as that of their first five, and as with the previous album, that doesn't necessarily make this one a bad record. The musical styling of the two principal songwriters is more disparate than ever: With Walsh at the helm, the music is more like conventional pop-rock; with Livgren heading things up, it is closer to the progressive rock of their heyday, and it is mostly the latter that rescues this album from utter poorness. But Walsh gave the album something besides composition: His soaring vocals. Almost every track shows off Walsh's skill and range as a vocalist. This is a difficult album to rate because of several shoddy tracks, but when Kansas is hot here, they are on fire.

"Relentless" The album kicks off with an unadorned rocker, combining heavy power chords and calm piano. The lead guitar work throughout is some of the band's finest, a consolation for some rather stale keyboard passages. The lyrics are reflective, indicative of Kerry Livgren's final religious turn. Had it been written earlier, the song might have been at home on Masque.

"Anything for You" Songs like these make me believe Steve Walsh should have been a member of Toto, not of Kansas (funnily enough). It's a piano-based love song with some almost unforgivable lyrical clichés. The melody of the chorus is great, however, and would have been better suited as part of a longer, more complex song.

"Hold On" An obvious crowd favorite (it gets played every concert, it seems), "Hold On" is a lovely but powerful waltz with a fantastic violin melody and vigorous electric guitars. During the verses, Steve Walsh sings wonderfully over acoustic guitar. The electric guitar solo is exquisite and fits the tenor of the song extremely well. Some have wondered about the nature of the lyrics: On the one hand, it sounds like a love song (even though Livgren didn't write too many of those); on the other, it sounds like an evangelistic song (particularly in the third verse). In reality, it's both. After becoming a Christian, Livgren wrote the song as a plea for his wife's conversion, as she herself was searching for spiritual truth at the time.

"Loner" The shortest song on the track is also the most pretentiously mainstream. It's catchy enough, sure, but the melodies are unimaginative and the lyrics insipid. One might be tempted to replace the "n" in the title with the letter "s."

"Curtain of Iron" With so complex an opening, the listener is fooled into believing he is in for another Livgren-penned masterwork. But the music suddenly wanes and leaves us with just a piano and Walsh's voice, neither of which flow from the composition that came before. This song is the perfect example of the transition Livgren's songwriting was taking during that time, from masterpiece after masterpiece to passable but lackluster. Regardless, "Curtain of Iron" is a true highlight of this album. Pleasing violin work concludes the song.

"Got to Rock On" Another attempt at radio success on Walsh's part, this song quite simply begs to be skipped over. The verses are awkward, relying so heavily on just piano and drums. The chorus is almost as ridiculous.

"Don't Open Your Eyes" Creepy and majestic at the same time, the beginning of this song (like many songs on this album) had real potential, but gave in to something a trifle silly. Notwithstanding, it's a very interesting song, full of fast-paced drums and piano. It is the only collaborative effort on the album

"No One Together" There are some good songs on this album, but this track propels the album to four star status. It is almost in the same echelon as "Song for America" or "The Pinnacle." The band pulls out all the stops here. The music during the introduction is fast and exhilarating, building up to a verse sung over only a piano. Walsh's voice soars here. The bridge is reminiscent of earlier works, with brazen diminished chords similar to those during the guitar solo of "Journey from Mariabronn." The musical interlude is stellar, with exceptional violin work, and once more, that fabulous build to the verse. From start to finish, it is by a long shot the best seven minutes on this album.

"No Room for a Stranger" The album could have ended strongly with "No One Together," but it does not. Kansas saw fit to give us two more tracks. This one goes from a piano riff that belongs in a hard-boiled detective movie to decent rock music; Rich Williams does a fine job on guitars.

"Back Door" Sappy, but not dreadful, this is a decent track, but certainly not progressive rock; parts of it might do well as a commercial for deodorant, perhaps. The "pipe and drum" section is particularly out of place. It isn't a bad song, but it's quite simply an awful way to end the album, especially one that will see a bitter end to a phenomenal brotherhood of excellent musicians from the heartland of America.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#191563) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I will begun quoting what is on the back on the CD about this album, being agree with this statement:

"The home grown art rock pioneered by Kansas saw it's greates commercial succes with Audio-Visions. Featuring hits like Hold on and Don't open your eyes, this CD demonstrates the unique blend of technical virtuosity and majestical balladry"

Kansas in 1980 - the last album with original lineup is more then a decent work IMO. Audio Visions is to me better then Monolith in any way, the album sounds very strong, some parts are truly progressive rock all the way, the other parts are in traditional Kansas sound begun with Monolith, more rockier but still good. I'm not agree that this is a weak album, some pieces stands among the best Kansas ever done like No one together, a truly progressive rock piece that stands as the best from the album, with excellent parts played by all musicians involved here, keybords, violin, guitars and specially the excellent voice of Walsh is present here, this piece can easy puted on any other older albums, has the atmosphere of Song for America or Leftoverture for sure, Curtain of iron is another good ex of Kansas at best moments, Don't open your eyes and Relentless is fine tunes in Kansas tradition. The rest are ok, maybe not realy great but ok, not a bad moment here realy. Even the difrences of opinion made Wals to live for some years returning with Power album in 1986, Audio Visions stands as among the best Kansas albums IMO. Of course not better then Song for America, Masque, Leftoverture or Point but close behind and better then Monolith and the albums will come after this one. Some more harder edged arrangements then before but melted very well with progressive elements in Kansas style made this album to be good to great in places, 3.5 rounded up to 4 because of the cover arts , both front and specialy the back cover is excellent showing exactly what is on album, visions of the new decade, future, new sounds and aproaches in music, great. I might say is one of my fav Kansas albums who still stands very well today. Quite underrated album from their career and really is not a bad record at all.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#289918) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As the eighties' approached, many progressive rock bands quickly opted for a more AOR-influenced sound to stay in touch with the times. Kansas wasn't an exception, and their first album of this new decade shows a more arena rock-influenced side to their music than ever before. Audio-Visions, the seventh album from this famed American band, still has a firm root in progressive rock in spite of its commercial leanings, and the end result is an observation that's both easily accessible and still sophisticated. A lot of folks tend to think that this is a pretty weak album, but I'd say that it's a pretty successful (if largely non-essential) effort. Kansas released plenty of better albums, but for what it is, Audio-Visions is a pretty enjoyable listen.

Most of the songs here are pretty solid, if fairly shallow, hard rock tunes with a few slight art-rock tendencies. I at least moderately enjoy all of Audio-Visions, but the song that really grabs me is the highly progressive "No One Together" - an marvelous piece of music in my opinion, and it ends up overshadowing the rest of the album when all is said and done. "Got to Rock On" is the biggest thud here, and even though there are other AOR tunes on Audio-Visions, the banal chorus makes this one a lot less remarkable than the others. While the songwriting may not be up to par with Kansas' best, the musicianship is still as impressive as ever. These guys are simply top-notch musicians, and the vocal harmonies are something that should grab every listener. The production is also pretty great, and its sleek sound suits the music perfectly.

Audio-Visions may not be the best Kansas release, but it's certainly far from a weak album in my mind. For what it is, this is a very good collection of commercial-tinged art rock songs, and there are probably enough progressive overtones here to satisfy fans of the band's older material. Audio-Visions doesn't leave much of a lasting impression, but it is an album I've enjoyed taking out for a spin recently. 3 stars are deserved for this solid effort. While I won't discourage checking out Audio-Visions, I would make sure you've heard the earlier Kansas albums before hearing this one.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#589760) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011

Latest members reviews

2 stars This album is like a Frosted Mini Wheat... the frosted side for the cool rocker in me and the plain wheaty side for the old "progger" in me. That's how it should be summed up... and that goes for Gentle Giant's "The Missing Piece" as well. This was my first Kansas album. My second was the sel ... (read more)

Report this review (#607764) | Posted by Monsterbass74 | Thursday, January 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The album "Audio-Visions" from Kansas is "Infectious" and "Irresistible". Is it progressive rock? Not really, semi-progressive, but interesting. Even the weaker tracks like "Loner" and "Got to rock on" have interesting moments, like more acoustic sections, and when they rock, they ROCK!! Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#282117) | Posted by Brendan | Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Of all albums in the first Steve Walsh era of Kansas, this is the weakest. It's not as focused as other Kansas albums, and they sound somewhat uninspired. Songs like Hold On and Got to Rock On sounded out place (even though I like the latter) and the majority of the album sounds much more commerc ... (read more)

Report this review (#166343) | Posted by spookytooth | Friday, April 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you read the reviews above, you already know the stories about this album : dissensions between Walsh and Livgren, both of them claiming afterwards that they saved their best material for their solo debuts, and the arguably best song, "No One Together", being taken from the Monolith session ... (read more)

Report this review (#84821) | Posted by Bupie | Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Kansas album no one likes to talk about. When it is brought up die hard Kansas fans will roll thier eyes. The top 40 hit 'Hold On' is mentioned in disdain and the subject is quickly changed. This album is a very pivitol release in the Kansas discography. The last with Walsh and the ori ... (read more)

Report this review (#70523) | Posted by zx2781 | Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another very solid, if unspectacular, release. The band was by now split between the secular (Walsh) and the Spiritual (Livgren and Hope) with the latter ultimately winning the day, leading to Walsh's departure to form the ill-fated though very good Streets. Hold On represents a game stab at regain ... (read more)

Report this review (#21864) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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