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VINYL CONFESSIONS

Kansas

Symphonic Prog


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Kansas Vinyl Confessions album cover
2.74 | 135 ratings | 19 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Play the game tonight (3:24)
2. Right away (4:03)
3. Fair exchange (4:56)
4. Chasing shadows (3:17)
5. Diamonds and pearls (4:47)
6. Face it (4:15)
7. Windows (3:29)
8. Borderline (3:57)
9. Play on (3:30)
10. Crossfire (6:33)

Total Time: 42:11

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Phil Ehart / drums
- John Elefante / lead & backing vocals, keyboards
- Dave Hope / bass
- Kerry Livgren / keyboards, guitars
- Robby Steinhardt / violin, backing & lead vocals
- Rich Williams / electric & acoustic guitars

Releases information

Cd. Legacy ZK 66418

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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The Best of KansasThe Best of Kansas
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Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
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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
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Kansas (Expanded Edition)Kansas (Expanded Edition)
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Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
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KANSAS Vinyl Confessions ratings distribution


2.74
(135 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
25%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (33%)
33%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

KANSAS Vinyl Confessions reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

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

With the previous Audio-Visions, Kansas had shown the will to keep up with the times and I guess they chose to show it even more by confessing it to vinyl. Anyway, these guys could've thought of another album title, because it is quite easy to take cheap shots at them with such a poor effort. One of the things that strikes most of course is Steve Walsh's absence, but what really shocks is Elefante's horrible AOR-suited voice. This album is not helped by the heavy brass-section on a few tracks (three max) and only Ken Scott's as-usual brilliant production stop the album from complete disaster, because the dumb and stupid artwork is definitely their worst yet to date.

Opening on an almost Toto meets Journey track of Play The Game, Kansas is clinging on to the AOR radio-friendly sound If the opening track kept a Kansas-ey sound, the following Elefante-penned Right Away show that we're going to have hard times ahead on this album. Just a yucky FM rock track. Fair Exchange just has the Livgren and Ehart paws on it and there is an unusual harmonica. Chasing Shadows feature some cheesy strings arrangements, while Diamond And Pearls is a cheese fondue 80's Bread-type soft rock drooling over-sweetish AM crap.

Face It again gives a Journey-tinge AOR sound, Elefante's voice being the major culprit, but the music on this album is simply not as complex as previous albums had it, although it never goes in the "80's Genesis" mode. Windows is one of the rare tunes on this album that would find place on Monolith. Borderline could almost be a Foreigner or Toto track, but even more a Journey semi-hit. Play On is more of the same crap, and the album-longest Crossfire is the only hint of the older Kansas, the only track were the musicians are given place to let it loose a bit and with Windows are the only two tracks worth saving..

Funnily enough the short new liner notes of the reissue are all sweet and completely untrustworthy, speaking of the "eternal" hit of Play The Game and speaks of innovative and progressive attitudes, which is simply laughable about this album. Stay away from this album, you little punks . ;-)

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#21874) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Terrible cover, and the loss of Walsh is the elefante in the room, but I confess to liking this more than I expected. Kansas replaced Steve Walsh with John Elefante on this album, a large void for anyone to fill. Elefante, like Livgren, appeared to be a deeply religious person, writing and cowriting several tracks that spoke directly to a spiritual awakening ("Play On," "Chasing Shadows"). Without the material interests of Walsh to offset him, Livgren's vision for Kansas as a religious rock band could take full flower. And yet that doesn't happen on Vinyl Confessions. Yes, the album is spiritual in the same sense that Kansas always was, but this is a thematic work first and foremost. (I wouldn't call it a concept album since there is no linear storytelling.) The theme is one of a rock musician looking to reconcile their own spirituality with the materialism of the music industry (I didn't say it was a good theme), clearly a vantage point that Livgren and Elefante shared. The rest of Kansas isn't kept out of the picture; Phil Ehart's drumming has rarely been so superlative, for example. The music continues to move away from progressive rock as its reference point; at this stage, Kansas had firmly settled into the arena rock camp (a genre they helped establish, consciously or not) alongside Asia and Foreigner. At this stage, I don't go into Kansas albums looking for progressive flights of fancy, so when they do occur I take it as a gift. Vinyl Confessions is a difficult album to pigeonhole anyway. Sometimes it sounds like classic Kansas ("Chasing Shadows," "Crossfire"), sometimes it sounds like any number of rock bands from the '80s ("Borderline," "Fair Exchange"). Although it marked a period of commercial decline for Kansas, Vinyl Confessions is actually a better album than some of its predecessors. I'm not enamored of the vocal mix on my vinyl version (could be the needle I suppose), so you may want to get this on CD.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#47571) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I remember the first time I heard John Elefante. MTV (back when the "M" in MTV stood for music) world premiered "Play The Game Tonight", and until the chorus, the band wasn't even shown. I hadn't heard that Walsh had left to form Streets, and since he and Elefante's voices are (somewhat) similar, I assumed what I was hearing was Walsh. Imagine my surprise when the little curly haired dude pops up during the chorus. Steve Walsh was (and still is) one of my favorite vocalists; so, I took this a little hard. So, I didn't even give Vinyl Confessions a try until about 4 years ago, when I picked it up on CD. What was I thinking back in the early 80's?

I missed Walsh, but thought Elefante came in and did a damn fine job replacing that legendary voice. And Vinyl Confessions should be considered a classic Kansas album. "Play The Game Tonight" has a great hook, but maintains some progressive integrity. And Dave Hope on "Windows" simply drops my jaw as he just powers away on the bass.

Although a little less progressive as their past records, there's still enough that should interest the listener. Elefante brought an interesting dynamic to the band...and some good songs. "Chasing Shadows" is one of the best Kansas tunes ever. A very intimate song with minimal instrument, but full of emotion from Elefante. Always will be a favorite of mine. It's just a shame that Elefante didn't stick around Kansas a little longer.

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#70508) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is probably the one album from Kansas that is just flat-out frustrating, maybe even annoying. The music would be okay I guess, especially if it were coming from Hall & Oates or Toto. But for a band like Kansas it seems to be nothing more than the fulfillment of a recording obligation to the record label, which surely planned to leverage whatever reputation the band still had at that point to gain new fans. Kirshner even brought in big-gun producer Ken Scott, the man who did so much to make David Bowie, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Harry Nilsson, Supertramp, and Missing Persons so commercially appealing.

And in that respect the album was mildly successful. "Play the Game Tonight" became the band's third-highest charting single ever (after "Dust in the Wind" and "Carry on Wayward Son"), peaking on U.S. charts at #17 in the summer of 1982. "Right Away", the second single from the album, also barely broke into the Top 40, and disappeared very quickly.

But that's the problem with this album. The band was moving in a completely new and not all that original direction, to the point where they were often mistaken on the radio for Styx, Toto, and even some of the more commercial Steely Dan stuff (eg., Aja). Robbie Steinhardt's signature violin and alternate lead vocals were much reduced on Confessions, and the songs are much shorter and the arrangements more like radio- friendly pop tunes, not fully developed progressive works.

Livgren has some moments on guitar, particularly on "Play On" and "Crossfire", but otherwise his work is largely boilerplate. Phil Ehart seems to kick it up on drums on the back side of the album somewhat (which interestingly consists of almost all Livgren songs). And Steinhardt when he does play is more polished than ever. But for all three of them the examples of their considerable talents seem to be getting doled out in barely bite-sized pieces.

And on the other tracks, John Elephante seems determined to write love songs (or love- and-angst songs, which is pretty much the same thing), then change a few selective phrases so they could just as easily be interpreted to be about God as they could about some chick. None of the Elephante songs seem to be a good fit for the band, although "Chasing Shadows" has some well-done harmonizing vocals, and "Right Away" and "Play On" have some nice enough piano tracks.

Kansas was on the brink of a total breakdown at the time this album was released. Steve Walsh was gone, Steinhardt would be also just a few months later, and Livgren and bassist Dave Hope would leave after the next album. Livgren already seemed to be only modestly interested in recording by this time. It's possible their label understood this, and figured they better try to squeeze one more out before the gravy run ended. Who knows.

This is not a particularly good album by a band that was (and is) capable of much more. I suppose this would be a decent album if you were looking to collect well-produced examples of early 80's music. But I suspect for many hard-core Kansas fans, this is just a filler piece for our collections. I'll err on the side of caution then, and give it three stars, which admittedly may be a bit inflated.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#76874) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It has been quite a long that Kansas has left the prog edge. We are in eighties now, and the FM sound of Kansas has little thing to do with the Kansas I once loved so much. Religion was a main source of inspiration which is always dangerous. Walsh's departure didn't help to increase the global quality level.

The opener "Play the Game Tonight" was one of their greatest hits, but it has nothing to do with great, emotional Kansas songs like "Miracles out of Nowhere" or "Lamplight Symphony". These are all gone by now and we have to digest some vinyl confessions : not easy. FM flavour for this song which is not so bad after all. "Right Away" will be of the same configuration : AOR all the way through.

"Fair Exchange" is one of the heaviest song of the band so far. It is not he worst song of the album, but compared to some Kansas previous work it is of course rather unexpected. To compensate, "Chasing Shadows" is a rock ballad like Kansas have investigate a bit since "Dust In The Wind". A bit mellow, but the strings arrangements add a special touch to it. After all, this was Kansas trade mark, right ?

With "Diamonds and Pearls" we plunged into the poorest Kansas song so far : truely horrible vocals, awful melody. What the hell is going on ? Hard to believe, really. The introduction of "Face It" on the contrary brings us back in their glory days : nice and subtle violin for about 30 seconds, leave the place to a strong rock piece of music : from hard-rock to AOR. This might well be one of the few good songs here. The following "Windows" is also a good rocking number, I must confess... Two good numbers in a row !

The commercial "Borderline" is hard to listen to. Another very poor song : awful chorus, lack of flavour, very weak instrumental parts. In one word, forget this one. The intro of "Play On" reminds me of ELO. Unfortunately, it evolves into a pure AOR tune which, again, is far from being great. Another poor number I'm afraid.

The closing "Crossfire" saves a bit the album. It is the sole attempt to re-create the classic Kansas songs we all love : good violin work from Steinhardt, great rythm with several theme changes, very good instrumental breaks. If only the band had investigated a bit more into this direction !

I would definitely not recommend this album as the entry to Kansas. Grab their first four albums to figure out how great they were. Songs are not really bad but most of them have no soul nor feeling. Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#118446) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars With Walsh out of the band, a new lead singer enters the stage and does a damn good job I must say. John Elefante is a very gifted singer and he is not far behind Walsh. So that out of the way, how does this album sound ?

Like most early eighties hard rock albums would be my answer. There is not much left of the old Kansas sound allthoug it does appear on songs like Diamonds and Pearls and Chasing Shadows in the form of Robby Steinhardtīs violin. The Violin is maybe the only thing slightly progressive on Vinyl Confessions, which is such a shame, as it is obvious that the musicians are flawless. When I tell you that the only thing on this album that sounds a little like the old Kansas is a Violin intro/ Lead for 20 seconds in the start of Windows, that is just enough is it ?

To me this sounds just like Survivor or some other band in that vein. If you like this style of music ( is there really anyone?) I guess this is just as good as any other hard rock album from that time.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#149665) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 09, 2007

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Kansas meets Toto

After Steve Walsh departure from the band and produceing some respectable albums in his solo career, Kansas try to survive without him, and were replaced by John Elefante. So the music, like anybody observe is easy to listen, tipical AOR sound for early '80's, something a la Survivor, Toto and other bands in top back then. It' s quite long that Kansas stop offering some true progressive pieces like in the '70's, concentrating more on FM sound. Some good pieces are to me :Fair exchange and the last one and the longest Crossfire, the rest are mediocre and without any prog elements that difine Kansas name, for example Play on, sound like any piece from Fallen angel album of Uriah Heep - same boogie with AOR sound, total desaster. So that 2 pieces that i mention to be the best doesn't save the album to be a mediocre one in every way, the shining and stunning progressive moments of the Song for america or Leftoverture are gone. 2.5 stars

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#163911) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A change in direction .

The first time I knew about this album was from a pop hit "Chasing Shadows" which was quite popular at that time. From the band's perspective this album was a culmination of cold war between Steve Walsh and the other two member of the band: Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren. It was triggered by Vinyl Confessions material proposed by Livgren whereby Walsh refused to sing due to the lyrics were much into Christianity. The result was Steve Walsh left the band to form Streets and brought his material with him. While Livgren got only five songs that could only match half of a full album. Kansas then auditioned candidates to replace Steve Walsh and after auditioning for roughly thirty candidates, they picked John Elefante- a 20-year old man with songwriting capability.

As far as the music concern this album does not reflect classic Kansas albums like Left Overture. Vinyl Confessions sounds to me like ordinary hard rock music with no progressive elements in it - only the violin that seems represent the prog elements, even though not really. There is basically no solid composition - be it solid in composition or catchy melody - it's definitely nothing like "Miracle Out of Nowhere" or "Magnum Opus" or "Incomudro", the band's classics. The music is more driven by guitar intead of violin. If you have never heard any album of Kansas you might consider that this is an ordinary hard rock / pop rock band that uses violin - that's it. As lead vocalist, I admit that John Elefante is a good singer and he can be a logical replacement for Steve Walsh.

Overall, I would say this album would only satisfy those who are die hard fans of Kansas who want to complete the collection of Kansas albums. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#176814) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Forget that all but one of the original members are still in Kansas- this is a completely different band, even if Kerry Livgren is heavily involved. As every Kansas record after 1980 until 2000 shows (with the noteworthy exception of their 1998 work with the London Symphony Orchestra, which is excluded for an obvious reason), for some reason, it takes both Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh to produce a Kansas masterpiece. The album they put out following the departure of their lead singer, with new man John Elefante, is by no means a bad album, but it is clearly lacking in several departments. The album has "commercial attempt" written all over it, and in that respect, the band had some moderate success with the first song. A lot of the lyrics are terribly pedestrian, an aspect that should have been addressed during the songwriting stage. The budding Contemporary Christian Music industry applauded Kansas's new Christian direction. Most of the stronger material is during the second half, with the more progressive tendencies of previous albums. A number of guests appear on this album, including David Pack of Ambrosia, as well as Roger Taylor (drummer for Queen), who performs background vocals on "Play The Game Tonight," "Right Away," and "Diamonds & Pearls." Unfortunately, the great talents of Robby Steinhardt go almost unused here; he would leave the band for a long period after the tour in support of this album.

"Play the Game Tonight" Kansas, like Yes, went towards "the white spotlight" of commercial success with this number. It's catchy, good for what it is, but nothing like what Kansas should have been.

"Right Away" With a boring chord progression and lazy vocals during the verses, this song staggers along, and is quite simply one of my least favorite tracks in Kansas history.

"Fair Exchange" A moderate bluesy rocker with harmonica (courtesy of Warren Ham), this is okay, but only just. The chorus really reminds me of tracks like it on the debut album.

"Chasing Shadows" One of the better songs on the album, this features dark piano and acoustic guitar. The vocal passages are smooth and satisfying.

"Diamonds and Pearls" The initial music always fools me into believing I like this song. Then the Toto-like jazzy piano and trite vocals come in, and sometimes I cringe. The chorus is okay, even enjoyable sometimes. There is a peppy saxophone solo to escort the song out.

"Face It" This song features a lovely introduction before becoming a funk-laced rock song that bothers me simply because it has a highly pleasing section before the refrain. The keyboards are the interesting aspect of the song.

"Windows" This is decidedly the most progressive track here, with great variations, violin, and amazing vocal melodies. The instrumental section is not at all unlike those of the previous Kansas incarnation, with tight musicianship and some fiery lead guitar.. The ending definitely begged for more though, and it's a shame Livgren didn't provide it. Dave Hope's bass stands out among the other instruments.

"Borderline" A steady, upbeat rocker, this song could have been enjoyable were it not for the lame lyrics. The guitars during the instrumental section are excellent, but the handclaps detract from it.

"Play On" Not a bad track, this one has some good organ in the background and a well-written, if simplistic, guitar solo.

"Crossfire" Yet another song full of music that could have worked in the waning period of Kansas (such as on Audio-Visions). For once, Robby Steinhardt, makes a clear vocal appearance, and Elefante's voice is at its best here.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#203846) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 20, 2009

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well, this album is a plain straight bone of contention for Kansas fans as well as lovers of prog rock and art rock, in general. Actually, almost every Kansas album after the electrifying live release "Two for the Show" is, but the case of "Vinyl Confessions" states a particularly relevant issue in terms of elaborating a full perspective on the band's 80s era. Besides the obvious reasons of having John Elefante as a replacement of the (otherwise irreplaceable) former keyboardist/singer Steve Walsh and having the violin's role degraded in the band's sonic architecture, we also have an enhancement of the preaching trend championed by Livgren from a couple of years earlier, plus a depersonalization of a gradually lesser signature Kansas touch (as if trying to get in touch with Foreigner, Journey and Toto into a common mold) and a diminished interest in exploring what was once was the required artsy element in both song writing and instrumental arrangement. The latter two aforesaid factors create a sense of vacuum for the band's progressive potential at this point of their career, and that is a shame, since the appreciation of demo bootlegs (with Walsh still enjoying his last days in the original sextet) and the recognition of this album's most ambitious passages are proof that the progressive element was still around and didn't need to disappear. But by now, this band is in full transition toward its affirmation as an AOR item with full-flight melodic drive and a constrained sense of adventure. The prior two studio efforts, while not matching the greatness of the golden era, managed to build up an increased robustness in the band's framework, but that sort of advance has also been undermined as well. So? is this a disastrous album? Not at all, since there is still a series of musical gems to be found and enjoyed. The opener 'Play the Game Tonight' is a pleasant melodic rock delivery that arguably could have benefited from a longer arrangement (beyond interests of making it the first single). There are also 'Fair Exchange' and 'Crossfire', Livgren-penned pieces that exemplify (again) his abundant stylization. The album's pinnacle is, IMHO, 'Windows', an excellent exhibition of hard-inflicted prog rock that displays Yes and Gentle Giant evolvements in a typical Kansas scheme: complex, catchy and powerful as 'Paradox' or 'Mysteries and Mayhem', in its own terms. The Elefante input is varied: I find 'Right Away' soem sort of dispensable Foreigner-wannabe song (and I am so not alone on this?), but the vulnerable beauty of 'Chasing Shadows' sends shivers of sublime tenderness to my spine. 'Face It' is an elegant AOR number that benefits from elegant prog-oriented arrangements (including a beautiful intro), while 'Play On' is just good, well-arranged but not that special really. Going back to the Livgren material, 'Borderline' is catchy and somewhat moving, but had it rocked harder it would have been more impressive that it finally came to be. On the other hand, 'Diamonds and Pearls' bears its proper dose of colorfulness and a coherent dynamics, but I don't find it compositionally brilliant: an exception is the lovely interlude, which maybe deserved to be part of a much better Kansas piece. Moments like this, when Steinhardt is still allowed some room to show off his sensibility (as in the interlude of 'Chasing Shadows' or the sets of textures delivered in 'Crossfire'), create most of the best moments in this album. Well, that's all I have to say about this album: "Vinyl Confessions" is a very good AOR album, not so good as an art-rock item, worth having indeed, but not as a collector's pride.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#235672) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Compact disc confessions!

Vinyl Confessions - which was originally released in 1982 (on vinyl, of course) - was the first out of two albums with John Elefante replacing Steve Walsh on vocals. Apart from that there is not much change and Elefante even sounds very much like Walsh anyway. Most of the other Kansas trademarks are still here; the violin and occasional vocals of Robbie Steinhardt, the keyboards, guitars and song writing skills of Kerry Livgren, etc.

While Audio-Visions was a competent album, the band sounded a little bit tired on that previous album. Having a new lead singer who also writes or co-writes several of the songs seems to have given them a much needed but admittedly only slight boost of new energy. Much needed partly because of the times this album was made in, those dreaded 1980's.

Right Away, Chasing Shadows and Face It are credited to John Elefante together with a Dino Elefante, supposedly a relative. John also co-writes Play On with Kerry Livgren. Crossfire, Borderline, Windows, Diamonds And Pearls and Fair Exchange are all credited to Kerry alone while the hit song Play The Game Tonight is credited to Kerry, Phil Ehart, Rich Williams and a couple of outsiders (a Danny Flower and a Rob Frazier) collectively.

As I implied above, and which is common knowledge among people who like this kind of music, the 80's were the dark ages of Prog. Virtually all my favourite bands that began their careers in the late 60's or early 70's peaked somewhere during the 70's and then went towards their absolute low points in the early 80's. Kansas is no exception to this rule, but they never sunk as low as many other bands did in these times. Audio-Visions and Vinyl Confessions are clearly among Kansas least good albums, but they are not that bad. The next one, Drastic Measures, was worse, but even that one was still quite adequate.

Like so many other bands, Kansas did become more commercial in the 80's and Play The Game Tonight seems to have been tailor-made for the radio. And they were indeed rewarded as it did become a hit, I believe. Unusual for Kansas, there are some saxophone and harmonica on some songs, but it does not distract too much.

While the feeling of a slightly tired band remains here on some songs, I find Vinyl Confessions enjoyable overall. If I must pick out favourite moments I would say that they mostly come towards the end of the album. Windows is probably my favourite song on this album; it sounds like a Point Of Know Return outtake with its hard edged and heavily violin dominated sound. Play On is more keyboard dominated and is also a decent cut. The keyboard sounds during the chorus remind us of in which decade it was recorded, but the verses and the guitar solo makes up for it. Too bad it fades out towards the end. Crossfire is the album's longest track and this leaves room for a little instrumental work in the middle. However, it is a pretty typical Kansas number and hardly one of their proudest moments. But it is, on the other hand, a fine ending to a more than decent album.

Good, but not essential!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#260271) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 2.5 stars, really. Although I had always liked very much Play The Game, I didnīt hear the other songs from Vinyl Confessions until a few weeks ago. The reason was very simple: it was 1082 and I didnīt want to risk another major disappointment with one of my favorite bands of the 70īs. I was afraid Kansas would have torned into another pop/AOR band like so many former progressive groups (which, in a way, they did). So I was a little surprised of how good this album really is. Ok, there is not loads of prog in here, but they also managed to add enough heavy guitars, intricated keyboards and some violin to make this album stand out in a sea of arena rock acts.

First of all the new singer: with the irreplaceable Steve Walsh gone, the band wisely picked up the next best thing. John Elefante has a very good voice that reminds me of Walsh a lot, specially at the high notes. Second: some may guess the band chose the easy way to commercialism. Not so much so. Most of the lyrics here deals with an artist in deep personal conflict between the earthly delights of success and his spiritual search. Both Livgrenīs and Elefanteīs stuff seem to have the same theme all the way through the CD. I heard the latter shared the same christian believes as the bandīs leader, which make sense. third: Kansas members lost none of their musical prowness and Ken Scottīs production is simply superb. I guess they were never so well produced thus far. so the music here is not as slick and polished as some may have guessed.

The main problem here lies on the compositions: they are simpler, more straighforward and the musical frame, yes, leans toward AOR style. That meaning Robby Steinhardtīs violin had little place in here (hewould soon leave the band). Not that the tunes were bad. Actually some of the songs are pretty strong like the beautiful dark ballad Chasing Shadows and the powerful Windows (both could be on the previous Audio-Visions or Monolith). But the only track in the whole album that reminds us of the great band Kansas used to be in the 70īs is the last one, Crossfire. This fine prog piece is not only the most progressive of the album, but also one of Kansas best ever.

The remaining stuff is sometimes very good but mostly they are marred by mediocre and/or misplaced arrangements. Take Face It for instance: a good rocking number with some prog overtones that has a horrible sax solo (!) at the end. The same goes for Borderline: another fine rocker spoiled by the nonsense claping in the end. And so it goes.. Actually the only songs that I donīt really like in this album are the rather weak Right Away (too close to Foreigner for comfort) and the downright bad Diamonds And Pearls (even closer to Toto, totally out of place here).

Conclusion: if PA was an AOR site, then Vinyl Confessions would get 4 or even a 5 star rating. They knew how to temper their new arena rock style with heavy guitars and prog keyboards and violin. However, for the proghead, there is not much to find here. Only about 3 tunes can be said of being truly progressive. So, personally, I would give it 3.5, but to proggers, it is really only 2. So 2.5 is a more fitting rating. This is a fine record as a whole, but not in the prog world. If you like Kansas, be sure to hear their previous works first before you tackle this one. On the other hand, if you enjoy melodic rock in general, youīll be more than satisfied with Vinyl Confessions.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#449454) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This first Kansasīs album without Steve Walsh is much better than their second album without him called "Drastic Measures" (1983). They found a very good singer in John Elefante, but there are some changes in the music style and in the lyrics content in this album even if most songs retain some of the old Kansasīs Progressive Rock style, even in the songs composed by John Elefante and Dino Elefante.I have read some reviews which say that the content of most of the lyrics is more inspired by Keryy Livgrenīs and John Elefante īs Christian faith, but even if this is the case, and even if it is true (and I am very respectful of other personsīs religious beliefs), I donīt think that the lyrical content is very changed because at least in a lot of Kerry Livgrenīs songs from the past the spiritual and "existential" content of the lyrics was there since a long time ago, but in this album maybe most of the lyrics were focused in the spiritual themes more than before. Maybe John Elefanteīs main contributions in this album are the more "light" songs in sound and lyrics, maybe a bit more commercially oriented, but still with good quality. There are a lot of very good Progresive Rock arrangements in most songs, and this album is good.The album as a whole sounds very good without the eighties over-production which "Drastic Measures" has in comparison. My favourtie songs from this album are " Play the game tonight", "Right away", " Diamonds and pearls" and " Borderline". There are some influences from bands like Styx (even if this band is not one of my favourites), but most of the old Kansasīs musical style still remains despite Steve Walshīs absence.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#997717) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 13, 2013

Latest members reviews

2 stars "O Kansas Where Art Thou?". Along with their next album, the aptly titled DESPERATE MEASURES this is the scraping of the barrel bottom for the Kansas boys. Welcome to the pop world of AOR. This is where Kansas meets Toto and REO Speedwagon. Good bye Steve Walsh and hello to John Elefante. Whi ... (read more)

Report this review (#518771) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, September 09, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Kansas has totally lost the progressive edge by the time it produced this album. However I would say this is an excellent pop rock album. At first I could not even notice the change of the vocalist and thought the band has taken a complete new direction (as were other prog rock bands doing). Play ... (read more)

Report this review (#89082) | Posted by Sharier | Wednesday, September 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was 16 when this album got to the stores and I remember being very excited about it since its predecessor Audio-Visions -my first encounter with Kansas- literally blew my head off two years before. At first I enjoyed Vinyl Confessions very much, playing it a lot. At this point, I wasn't e ... (read more)

Report this review (#85578) | Posted by Bupie | Thursday, August 03, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I also find it intersting that the John Elephante albums are panned. I like STEVE WALSH as much as anyone and KANSAS was the band that got me interested in 'Prog' anyway. JOHN does a perfectly good job with the vocals. The song writing is obviously toward a Christian bent as a lot of Kansas st ... (read more)

Report this review (#21876) | Posted by | Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This isn't a bad progressive album, considering that mosy progressive rock albums of early 80s got into synthsizers and were crap! Play the Game Tonight, Chasing Shadows and Borderline are as good if not better than anything Kansas have done since this album. Unfortunately, this album is unava ... (read more)

Report this review (#21875) | Posted by | Saturday, September 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I find it amusing that Kansas 'fans' have such a hard time with this record, simply because Steve Walsh doesn't feature on it. For the style of music Kerry Livgren's songwriting was leaning to, John Elefante had a perfect voice. Songs were shorter, poppier, and frankly, better than anything from the ... (read more)

Report this review (#21872) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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