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Kansas The Ultimate Kansas Box Set album cover
3.84 | 54 ratings | 10 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc one: (77:02)
1. Can I tell you (demo) (4:20)
2. Death of Mother Nature Suite (live) (9:00)
3. Journey from Mariabronn (7:57)
4. Song for America (10:01)
5. The devil game (5:04)
6. Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman (live) (16:08)
7. Child of innocence (4:33)
8. Icarus - Borne on the wings of steel (6:04)
9. Mysteries and mayhem (4:20)
10. Pinnacle (9:35)

Disc two: (76:52)
1. Carry on wayward son (5:22)
2. The wall (4:47)
3. What's on my mind (3:27)
4. Opus insert (4:25)
5. Magnum opus (8:25)
6. Point of know return (3:12)
7. Portrait (He knew) (4:34)
8. Dust in the wind (3:29)
9. Closet chronicles (6:31)
10. People of the South wind (3:29)
11. On the other side (live) (6:43)
12. A glimpse of home (6:36)
13. Restless (4:57)
14. Loner (2:30)
15. Hold on (3:53)
16. Wheels (4:32)

Total Time: 153:54

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

2x cd: Legacy Z2K 65432 (1998)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to _sam_ for the last updates
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KANSAS The Ultimate Kansas Box Set ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KANSAS The Ultimate Kansas Box Set reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is an excellent box set containing their best classic tracks with great booklet. I don't actually enjoy the best of any prog bands because I don't think that it's enough to summarize their great tunes (that usually takes around 7-8 minutes duration even more each track). The only excuse that I have to purchase the box set of prog bands like King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, etc. is the booklet inside the package. Some box sets feature the family tree of the band and how it relates one to another. Good example is the Yes Years box set that has beautiful booklet (LP size) and also King Crimson "Frame by Frame". This Kansas box set by no exception has a good history of the band in its booklet.

All tracks of CD 1 are excellent with attention to some tracks include "Can I tell you (demo)" - great violin of classic Kansas tune, "Death of Mother Nature Suite (live)" - even though the sonic quality is not excellent but it is performed lively, "Journey from Mariabronn". The track that introduced me to the band at first time "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman (live)" is now performed live; that's good enough to satisfy my need having liked the tune since the first spin. "Pinnacle" has been my all time Kansas favorite. I love the catchy melody and its tight composition. The structure is superb!

CD 2 contains also great tracks with special attention to: "The Wall" - melodious and stunning guitar work, "What's on My Mind", "Magnum Opus" - this song was once considered as sign of the bird of prog metal sub-genre, "Portrait (He knew)" - represents Livgren's admiration to a scientist: Albert Einstein, "Opus Insert". Unfortunately, the other tracks are just good and not excellent. Some are boring tracks like "Dust in The Wind" (ugh . I hate it!) and "Hold On". "Carry On Wayward Son" is also another excellent track even though I get bored with it as this track has been aired too much in my country's FM classic rock station.

Recommended! GW, Indonesia.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars I remember vividly when I bought this boxed-set. It was 1995, the set had been out for a while, and Kansas was pretty much incognito as a band. They were covering the county fair and festival circuit and not doing much in the studio. The embarrassing Live full of Whiskey was out and we hadn’t yet heard if there would be a Freaks of Nature album, but we had heard about Steve Walsh snorting most of his earnings up his nose and wrapping his SUV around a pole in downtown Atlanta in broad daylight and heading off for rehab somewhere. All indications were that the band was pretty much done except for the official announcement, and this collection looked to be the icing on the cake of a great career that was ending with mostly a whimper.

At the time CDs were still pretty exotic for those of us on a budget, and I recall carefully contemplating whether I should buy the set in cassette or CD format. I chose the cassettes simply because I had a player in my car, and in retrospect that was the wrong choice, but oh well.

Turns out the boys still had a bit of juice left in them and managed to put out another three studio albums, the live Device-Voice-Drum, and numerous more collections/ compilations, including the much more comprehensive retrospective Sail On. But there are some positive points to this collection as well, and it’s not a bad purchase for those wanting to get to know the band at a reasonable price.

With the exception of “Wheels”, all the songs here are from the band’s first seven albums, which are of course the ones that were recorded by the original lineup of Steve Walsh, Kerry Livgren, Robby Steinhardt, Dave Hope, Rich Williams, and Phil Ehart. “Wheels” was a previously unreleased track that was written by Livgren in the early 90s and recorded by him, Ehart, Steve Walsh, and then-current violinist David Ragsdale specifically for this collection (although it would appear on the ‘Definitive’ 1997 collection as well).

The song selection is pretty good and varied, with at least three songs from each of the seven studio albums. Some of the recordings are alternate mixes, and give us an all-too-rare listen to the band live at their peak. “Death of Mother Nature Suite” gets an extended treatment from a Cowtown Ballroom concert in Kansas City circa 1973. “Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman” is a sixteen minute-long recording from a 1975 Cleveland, Ohio concert. And a pleasantly surprising choice, “On the Other Side” from Monolith comes from a 1979 concert in Springfield, Missouri (Walsh’s voice is still rock- solid at this point in his career). The really noteworthy thing about these three live tracks is how faithful they are to the original studio recordings, while at the same time embellishing the songs with violin flourishes, a few extra guitar riffs for emphasis, and climactic finishes. Steinhardt’s violin sounds better live on all three of these than on the studio versions. These songs really confirm the band’s ability to translate their studio sound to the stage, and in retrospect I wish they would have had the foresight to capture all of these songs live and release them here instead of the studio versions, if for no other reason than that except for Two For the Show, there is very little quality footage of the band in concert in the latter 70s.

The one other special track is the opening “Can I Tell You”, which is also the opening track on their debut album. This version is the original demo tape the band sent to producer Don Kirshner in 1972, leading to them being signed to his label and the start of their recording career. The contrast between this and the final studio version on their 1974 release is striking. Steinhardt is actually a bit tentative on violin, his and Walsh’s vocals seem to clash, and the rhythm between bassist Dave Hope and drummer Phil Ehart is strained. The tempo is also markedly slower on this demo track. This alone is a really interesting insight into a band that has always been very guarded about releasing demo tracks, studio castoffs, and other recorded curios.

The rest of the collection is mostly what a fan would expect. All the hit singles up to that point are here, even the ones most people forgot were singles, or didn't realize were actually Kansas songs: “Song for America”, “Carry on Wayward Son”, “Point of Know Return”, “Portrait (He Knew)”, “Dust in the Wind”, “People of the South Wind”, and “Hold On”. Only “Reason to Be” and “Got to Rock On”, the last charting singles from Monolith and Audio-Visions, respectively, are omitted for some reason.

A couple of obvious oversights are “Miracles out of Nowhere” and “Cheyenne Anthem” from Leftoverture and “No One Together” from Audio-Visions, the latter not because it’s such a great song, but because of what it symbolized about the eventual breakup of the band.

I would also have preferred, if not an entire live album, at least “Magnum Opus” from Leftoverture and “People of the South Wind” from Monolith live, as I’ve heard both of these done live where they outshined the originals. There’s also a live version of “Cheyenne Anthem” floating around out there somewhere with some absolutely awesome meatwall guitar work by Rich Williams on it that would have been great here.

Otherwise, the packaging is not as slick as Sail On, but not bad for the early 90s. The enclosed booklet tells the band’s early history and has some photos. None of this is new territory, but it’s a nice package deal nonetheless. There are complete credits, dates, and studio information for all the tracks, which is good historical information for nerds like me who dig that stuff. And the back page photo of the band in white tuxedos posing with some of the original Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz is priceless!

There is one better collection of the band (Sail On), and a much better snapshot of them in their glory live (Two for the Show), but for a reasonable price, this is also a good collection. I see this as a good deal for those mildly interested in discovering Kansas without having to shell out a couple hundred bucks (U.S. dollars) for all seven of the first albums. For that reason this deserves at least three stars.


P.S. A note for those who have seen this labeled otherwise - this is not the "Ultimate Kansas Boxed-Set". That title does not appear anywhere on the packaging. It is simply titled "Kansas".

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars Do not look any further. If you do not know the band but want to give them a try, this is for you. Their greatest albums (the early days) are very well represented and the almost all their progressive songs are here, which won't be the case in some later poor "Best Of" which will be more commercially oriented.

I will first (and very briefly) start with the very few minus points of this wonderful release : three great songs are missing : "Aperšu" from their debut album, the beautiful "Lamplight Symphony" from "Song for America" and "Miracles Out Of Nowhere" from "Leftoverture".

I would also have expected a track as "Cheyenne Anthem" from the same "Leftoverture" to be featured here. Not that I consider it as one of their greatest track, but I know that Kansas have always been the defensor of the Indian cause and I'm sure they might have liked to have it featured here, but they probably did not have the final decision in terms of track selection.

On this double CD, only one number does not really fit in this fantastic ensemble. The track "People Of The South Wind" (from "Monolith") is by far the poorest one. AOR / FM music at its worst. But one wrong choice out of so many numbers is just anecdotal, but so you have the detailed picture.

Now, the good points. These are countless on this work. Almost all their long songs are present in an unedited version. This is extremely rare in compilations. Usually, long numbers are emasculated or ignored. Kansas work is presented in the most logical way : chronologically.

Their very good debut album is featured with three songs : "Can I Tell You" (in a demo version, not bad at all). "Death Of Mother Nature Suite" is presented in a live rendition, a bit longer than the original and somewhat harder. I preferred the studio version, but it gives an idea of how the band sounds live, and after all it is a good idea to highlight this aspect of their work as well.

One of their all-time best (but several of those will be featured here) "Journey From MariaBronn" is also presented. All the subtlety of the band is featured and if you have one single doubt about Kansas progressiveness (I'm not sure that this word exists but you get the idea, I hope) just listen to it. Keyboards and violin will fill your ears and make these almost eight minutes, a very interesting experience.

IMO, their best album is "Song For America". It will be represented with three numbers as well. The fantastic title track in its ten minute format, the great rocking number "The Devil Game" and most important probably, a great live rendition of one of their anthems which had never been feautred on a live album "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman". This version is extended by four minutes (clocking at over sixteen minutes). It is mainly due to a longer and good drum solo. So, finally, we got this great track in a live format !

From "Masque" (their third album), the choice could hardly have been better (well maybe a song as "All the World" also would have deserved a place here but if all their great numbers needed to be featured on a compilation effort, the two CD format would not have been appropriate.

With "The Pinnacle" and "Icarus" we'll have the two longest track of the album (if you except the one I have just mentioned in my remark) and the two most progressive ones as well. "Child of Innocence" and "Mysteries and Mayhem" will confirm the rock side of the band in a brilliant manner.

Most of the essential tracks from "Leftoverture" are here as well : their hit "Carry On...", the magnificent "The Wall" (one of their most melodic and symphonic song), the rocking "Opus Insert" (maybe not essential enough to sit here) and the fabulous closing number of this other great Kansas album "Magnus Opus". One of the highlights from "Leftoverture".

Bizarrely enough, as a Kansas maniac, I could never praised their fifth album "Point Of Know Return". With the exception of "Closet Chronicles" which is feautred here as well, the other numbers are not my cup of tea. Even not their hit single "Dust In The Wind". "Point..." and "Portrait" being just two good rock songs. Not more.

From their later production, we will have the pleasure to get only the best tracks featured on their less creative work (up to 1980, where this compilation stops). If we except "People..." which I have already talked about, "On The Other Side" (played live here) and a "A Glimpse Of Home" can almost compete with the greatest Kansas tracks. The latter being more on the harder edge of the band.

Same will apply for the album "Audio Visions". Even if "Hold On" is not my cup of tea, I fully understand that some commercial tracks needed to be integrated on this compilation effort. The other two songs "Relentless" (a good and inspired rock song) and "Loner" really belonged to the best of this average album. The latter, again, will be fully hard-rock oriented. I would have been more happy if a song like "Curtain Of Iron" which was fully in the great Kansas tradition would have been here, but we can really not complain too much.

We'll get the traditional unreleased track to push sales amongst Kansas fans of course. But I guess that the purpose of a compil is to sell, so I can hardly blame their record company for this. Even if "Wheels" does not belong to their all-time best, this rock ballad is not too bad; a bit mellowish but featuring some nice background violin. Of course, it is not essential.

On top of this one, the addition of some rare live tracks and alternative (and good) versions of existing tracks (for a mere forty minutes) will make this compilation appealing to traditional Kansas fans as well.

I guess that to get a better compilation, you would need to have all the Kansas original material in a CD format and create your own one (which I obviously have done and which sits on four CD-R's). Five stars for this collection of great tracks and a fantastic way to discover this fabulous US band.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A rough guide to Kansas

Here we have a well presented double CD cross-section of the band's work, featuring 26 of what are arguably their best tracks. Anyone with even a passing interest in Kansas could kick off the track listing, and predictably (and rightly), "Dust in the wind", "Wayward son", and "Magnum Opus" are all present and correct.

This collection covers the period from the band's debut in 1974 through to "Audio-visions" in 1980. This of course is not the complete story, but as that was the last album to feature all the original members of the band (Steve Walsh would leave in 1981), it makes for a sensible stopping point.

Each album is given about the same amount of exposure here, usually a generous 20-30 minutes for the band's best works. Some tracks though, such as "Death of mother nature suite" and "Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman" are substituted with live versions. These may be previously unavailable but my personal preference would have been for the original versions to be used.

The final track, "Wheels" is a new unreleased studio track, clearly designed to make the package attractive to fans who already have all the source albums. The set comes complete with a 36 page booklet with a detailed history of the band over the period.

The problem I have with Kansas is that I find them more enjoyable in small doses. Thus a well populated set like this is actually counter-productive as listening to it as a complete piece becomes tedious. Better to use the programme button on the CD player to pick out personal favourites ("The wall" is an essential), thus keeping things within tolerance.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Finally, a very well done compilation of Kansas best tracks, at least for the proghead. All songs come from their heydey with the classic line up (so, if you┤re looking for their pop hits of the 80┤s like Play The Game tonight and Fire With Fire, go somewhere else). Even if it is not really perfect: I don┤t understand why they put some live recordings of Death of Mother Nature Suite, On the other side and Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman. Maybe they thought the inclusion of the unreleased Wheels track was not enough to grab Kansas fanatics into spending their hard earned money into buying a double CD. Even if those versions are good ones, I still think the original studio recording of those songs is better. Well, you can┤t have it all. At least they were sensitive enough to include The Pinnacle, one of the most emotional (and underrated) Livgren┤s epics.

A great booklet and fine cover round up this boxset and clearly makes us forget the very poor The Best of CD. If you heard about Kansas but never had the opportunity to listen to their finest work, this is a great choice, specially if you don┤t want to buy every classic album they made, at least for now. Every track is a winner (even the unknown Wheels) and a fine display of how good, intelligent, creative and varied was the music of Kansas. Highly recommended for the newbie.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars This is one of the best compilation ever released in prog world, because captures all the magic moments this band has in the '70's, here we find all the best pieces, even the longer ones, not only the less longer of Kansas. This is a double album compilation and some of the pieces are more than 10 or even 15 minutes longer, so not a a compilation just for money, is for fans and also for those who didn't know the band very well, and for the begginers aswell. All the essential Kansas tracks are here from the first album from 1974 - selftitled 'till the first one from the '80's Audio - vision from 1980. The listner can easely find some realy great and unforgetable Kansas tunes like:Song for America, Pinnacle and Magnum opus, the rest are also very ok. Some of the pieces from this compilation are live , so another side of Kansas that needs attention for sure, and aswell a new piece Wheels end this second CD. So this is not another worthless best of, is one of the most intristing compilations in symphonic prog world and for sure needs a high rate from me - 4 stars for sure because is well done, capture the most prolific moments of the band and has everything a usual listner or a new one must have in the collection. Recommended
Review by Guillermo
4 stars By the early 90s KANSAS became more a touring band than a recording studio band. Having recorded two more Pop Rock influenced albums for MCA after their return as a band with Steve Walsh since 1985, they found themselves without a record label and maybe without the pressures from those record labels which in the 80s wanted mostly commercial songs to be released as singles. So, by the early 90s the band toured with several line-ups, which also included a reunion with Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope for a time (with also Steve Morse and Billy Greer being involved in some tours), and with Phil Ehart being the Manager, leaving the drums playing for another drummer sometimes.

In 1994 this Box Set was released by their former label (Kirshner / Legacy). I consider this a much better compilation than "The Best of Kansas" album, despite the fact that it mostly includes songs recorded by the "classic" line-up of the band (Kerry Livgren, Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, Rich Williams, Robby Steinhardt and Dave Hope) from their albums which were released between 1974 and 1980. I think that it is a more representative compilation of their music from their best period of time, because the "classic" line-up was their best line-up anyway.

This Box Set has some previously unreleased recordings which work more as a "marketing trick" for the fans to buy it. One is a demo of a song called "Can I Tell You" (which was later recorded for their first album). Also, there are three live recordings from the seventies from KANSAS ("Death of Mother Nature Suite"and "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman", both of them very heavy, and "On the Other Side", a very good live version), plus a new studio song, "Wheels", recorded by Livgren, Walsh and Ehart plus new violin player David Ragsdale in the early 90s. "Wheels" is a very good song, maybe a bit Rock Pop influenced. KANSAS also played this song without Livgren in the early 90s, and a live version of it appeared in their "Live at the Whisky" video from 1992.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Lots of music from one of America's top progressive rock bands of the 1970s-80s. 2 discs with almost 154 minutes of studio and live tracks from throughout the career of Kansas. The first song is actually a demo of "How Can I Tell You", which is not any different or any better than the original from ... (read more)

Report this review (#752839) | Posted by mohaveman | Sunday, May 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What a great compilation is this Box-set! In my opinion this compilation is amazing besides Sail-on and The Ultimate Kansas, this Box- set includes a demo from 1973 "Can I Tell You" and sounds a bit slowly here, they add more solos in this one as well. In other hand the band also includes thr ... (read more)

Report this review (#437302) | Posted by squire4001 | Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sony's second cash in since losing the band, this 'box set' was a massive disappointment. Cheapskate packaging, one ok new track (the Livgren penned Wheels) and a few demos from the early seventies were the main selling points. Very poor. ... (read more)

Report this review (#21915) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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