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KERRY LIVGREN

Crossover Prog • United States


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Kerry Livgren biography
Kerry Livgren was born in Topeka, Kansas the first son in a family of six. Drawn to music at a young age, his first musical interests developed with classical and jazz influences while his peers were embracing Elvis Presley. Starting with an electric guitar he built himself, Kerry focused on writing songs as he learned to play -- seeking to create songs that if nothing else, were original.

Kerry's first band was the Gimlets, which he formed with several close friends in high school. After school and on weekends, they soon found themselves booked throughout Kansas and neighboring Missouri. Kerry's involvement with the band continued through college, before joining the Mellotones, a mainstream rhythm and blues band. Driven by a desire for more creative expression, Kerry formed Saratoga, who played for audience members around the area, including a young drummer named Phil Ehart and a bass player, Dave Hope.

In 1970, they formed the group, Kansas, combining the best members from their respective bands. Known for their sometimes bizarre originality, the band went through several iterations before becoming the six-member group signed by Don Kirshner in 1973. Kerry remained with the band for 13 years as the band's primary song writer, lead guitarist and keyboard player. Penning such prog classics as Journey From Mariabronn and Song for America as well as hits "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind," Kerry propelled the band to worldwide success and critical acclaim, with numerous gold and multi-platinum albums.
In 1980 Kerry Livgren released his first solo work, Seeds of Change, featuring vocalists Ronnie James Dio and David Pack of Ambrosia, drummer Barriemore Barlow, and guest spots by friends from Kansas. Also accompanying the album was Kerry's book of the same name. Together, they expressed the passage and resolution of Kerry's spiritual journey, often the subject of his songs with Kansas.

Following his departure from Kansas in 1983, Kerry recorded his second self-produced album for CBS, Timeline, in the same year. With the musicians involved in that project, he formed the band, AD. Between 1983 and 1986, the band released two albums and toured extensively.
Kerry next signed with Sparrow records and released Prime Mover in 1988, followed by his first instrumental work, One of Several Possible Musiks in 1989. Exploring a new musical direction, this confluence of orchestral and rock styles received the Dove Award for Instrument...
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Seeds of ChangeSeeds of Change
Collector's Edition · Remastered · Import
Rock Candy 2014
Audio CD$13.85
$16.68 (used)
Prime Mover ReduxPrime Mover Redux
Numavox 2008
Audio CD$11.49
$10.55 (used)
Time LineTime Line
Renaissance 1996
Audio CD$13.47
$24.99 (used)
Reconstructions ReconstructedReconstructions Reconstructed
Numavox 1998
Audio CD$10.24
$8.99 (used)
One of Several Possible MusiksOne of Several Possible Musiks
Sparrow Records 2009
Audio CD$14.38
$1.39 (used)
Collector's Sedition Director's CutCollector's Sedition Director's Cut
Numavox 2007
Audio CD$15.02
Odyssey into the Mind's EyeOdyssey into the Mind's Eye
Numavox 1997
Audio CD$11.87
$10.88 (used)
DecadeDecade
Box set
Sparrow Records 1992
Audio CD$148.00
$35.99 (used)
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KERRY LIVGREN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KERRY LIVGREN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 22 ratings
Seeds Of Change
1980
2.20 | 8 ratings
Time Line
1984
4.23 | 7 ratings
Art Of The State
1985
3.07 | 9 ratings
Reconstructions
1986
3.88 | 8 ratings
Prime Mover
1988
3.97 | 12 ratings
One Of Several Possible Musiks
1989
1.50 | 7 ratings
When Things Get Electric
1995
3.93 | 5 ratings
Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye
1997
3.11 | 8 ratings
Prime Mover II
1998
4.28 | 8 ratings
Collector's Sedition Volume 1
2000
3.79 | 9 ratings
Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut
2007

KERRY LIVGREN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
AD Live
1998

KERRY LIVGREN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye
1997

KERRY LIVGREN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 3 ratings
Decade
1992
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Kerry Livgren
2002

KERRY LIVGREN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KERRY LIVGREN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Seeds Of Change by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 22 ratings

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Seeds Of Change
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Kerry on wayward son!

Seeds Of Change was the debut solo album by Kansas-mastermind, Kerry Livgren. I finally own this album now as part of a 2CD collection called Decade. The decade in question being the 80's and the collection brings together tracks from all the non-Kansas albums Kerry did in that dreaded (by Prog fans) decade. As always, I prefer to rate the individual albums as they were originally released and to avoid "double-rating" I will not rate the compilation also. But Decade is still the recommended way (and perhaps the only way on CD?) to get hold of Seeds Of Change.

The title of the album presumably refers to Kerry's conversion to the Christian religion, a message which is also heavily expressed in the lyrics. The Decade collection comes with a 30 page booklet in which Kerry claims that god wanted this album to be made! He also tells the story of his religious conversion, the recording of Seeds Of Change, the formation of A.D. (a band led by Kerry in the 80's and whose first album Time Line is also featured in its entirety in the compilation) and him eventually leaving Kansas. But when Seeds Of Change was released Kerry was still a member of the band and this was released the same year as Kansas' Audio-Visions. Some of the music here is not very far away from late 70's/early 80's Kansas.

Seeds Of Change features several different singers including one of my favourite vocalists of all time in Ronnie James Dio on two songs. Some Kansas members are also present with Steve Walsh doing lead vocals on one song and Phil Ehart and Robbie Steinhardt both appearing on Ground Zero (this was many years before 9/11). Another famous musician present is Barriemore Barlow from Jethro Tull contributing drums on several tracks. Having so many people involved does almost always create a problem with inconsistency. The songs may be tied together by the lyrics in some sense, but musically the album is all over the place. If I didn't know that the first seven songs on disc one of the Decade compilation constituted this album, I could just as well have thought that these songs were taken from different sources.

The quality of the songs also fluctuates a bit with some excellent moments and some rather forgettable moments. The best of the bunch is without doubt the seven and a half minute The Mask Of The Great Deceiver. This is one of the two songs with Dio on lead vocals and he does a fantastic job here! Kerry tells us in the booklet that he had known Dio's voice already from Elf which was Dio's pre-Rainbow band, but that he didn't know Ronnie James personally before. Kerry handpicked Dio for these songs and he was pleased that he agreed to sing on the album. With this music being, at least partly, aimed at a Christian audience, Kerry felt the need to stress in the booklet that "even though [Ronnie James Dio] had begun to sing for Black Sabbath, Ronnie is no Satanist." I just had to laugh!

The other song with Dio on vocals is To Live For The King, a slower and less progressive song, slightly similar to Rainbow's Catch The Rainbow. The vocals are simply mesmerizing! How Could You Live has Walsh on vocals and this song is a bit similar in style to the Audio-Visions material; hardly a great song, but not terrible. Whiskey Seed stands out as being a Country/Blues song with some of the vocals being by Kerry himself!

In terms of Prog, there are only really two songs worthy of special mention and these are The Mask Of The Great Deceiver and the closer Ground Zero. If you are a major fan of Kansas and Kerry's solo career and/or Ronnie James Dio, you should not miss out on this rare album as it has some very good moments on it. It is, however, uneven and lacks a general direction.

The Decade compilation is a good place to get hold of this album. But that compilation is unfortunately itself very rare.

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 Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Leftover(ture)'s from Somewhere To Elsewhere

For those who like Kansas' great comeback album Somewhere To Elsewhere, Kerry Livgren's Collector's Sedition - Directors Cut is highly recommended. The songs on this album came from the same writing sessions as the songs that ended up on Somewhere To Elsewhere. Kerry wrote all of these songs and thought that many of them sounded like Kansas songs. This led him to approach his old band (that he had left in the 80's) to suggest a reunion. The band agreed and Kerry gave them the choice of songs for what was to become Somewhere To Elsewhere. The Collector's Sedition material consists of the rest of these songs i.e. the songs that were not chosen by the band for inclusion on that album. Kerry writes in the booklet that he was surprised by some of the band's choices and he is right that some of these songs could have been excellent inclusions to Somewhere To Elsewhere.

These "leftover" songs were first released in 2000 (the same year that Somewhere To Elsewhere came out) as Collector's Sedition Vol. 1. But Kerry was not happy with the result; he thought that the release was somewhat rushed. This induced him to re-record these songs again with a full band sound and better production. While I have not heard the original Collector's Sedition album, I must say that the result is mostly very good. Some songs remind of Kansas while others remind me more of Kerry's later work with the reunited pre-Kansas band Proto-Kaw. While the material here is not among Kerry's best song writing work, as a collection of leftovers it is very impressive indeed and provides even more evidence of what a great songwriter he is (as if that was ever in doubt!).

I think that Kerry was in a strong period as a writer when he wrote these songs. Together with the period in the 70's that resulted in Kansas' Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return albums, and the period in the new millennium that resulted in Proto-Kaw's Before Became After and Wait Of Glory, the period that produced Somewhere To Elsewhere as well as the present album was one of Kerry Livgren's most creative periods ever. For fans of these albums, Collector's Sedition - Directors Cut should not be missed.

The Navigator is only one of several excellent songs here. Cold Grey Morning resembles the excellent later Proto-Kaw material in both sound and quality. There are no bad tracks here, but some songs are clearly less good than some of the others and there is nothing here that is up to par with the fantastic Icarus II from Somewhere To Elsewhere or the better Proto-Kaw songs. Still, this is possibly Kerry Livgren's best solo album (I can't say for sure because I have not yet heard them all) and it is even better than some Kansas albums!

Collector's Sedition is, despite its title, not only for fans and collectors. For anyone who appreciates Kansas and/or Proto-Kaw, this album will be a very worthy addition to your collection. It constitutes a great place to start investigating Kerry's solo career, but it is not a very good place to start if you don't yet know anything of Livgren's amazing work as a writer and performer; start with Kansas and Proto-Kaw.

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 Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars At the turn of the century, Kerry Livgren experienced a prolific period of musical creativity. Thinking much of the music was suited for his musical alma mater, as it were, he contacted Phil Ehart and the band agreed to record a reunion album. The band had their choice of the songs, and so the brilliant Somewhere to Elsewhere was born. The remaining pieces found a home as a Livgren solo project entitled Collector's Sedition. Years passed, though, and Livgren decided that the recordings (elaborate demos, he called them) needed to be upgraded with proper musicianship and mastering, effectively given the treatment they deserved. Hence, the "Director's Cut" portion of the title. This album is a precious jewel; when I first received it in the mail, I greedily tore into it, knowing I was about the hear what was essentially the second half of my favorite Kansas album. As it is, I regard it as the pinnacle of Livgren's solo career. This comes highly recommended.

"Am Juengsten Tage" Stunning strings set a breathtaking mood, like the grand opening of a cinematic masterpiece. Halfway through, it becomes very similar to "Byzantium," from the aforementioned Kansas album, boasting a majestic palette of Near Eastern sounds. The title is German for, "On the Last Day."

"On the Air" My favorite track on the album, this has a straight ahead rock groove for verses with a great vocal melody. The chorus is stellar, having a gorgeous melody and strings to compliment. While I would have loved to have heard Kansas's interpretation of this one especially, this piece sounds very close to what Proto-Kaw has done this decade. The heavy middle section likewise lends it that impression.

"The Sentinel" Acoustic guitar and piano dance gracefully under thoughtful and meditative lyrics. Musically, this piece sounds like an extension of that gorgeous middle section of "Distant Vision." A powerful bridge in 5/4 leads into a gloriously symphonic instrumental passage.

"Hindsight" This straightforward song has heavy pop leanings and is solidly performed. Fortunately, there are some symphonic touches in the upbeat middle section. The instrumental ending is rather unbefitting, and the chorus is on the cheesy side, however.

"The Navigator" Livgren treats listeners to a peaceful, acoustic song that would be right at home just before the sermon in a small rural church. It has country and bluegrass flavor due in no small part to the Appalachian instrumentation, all while retaining a substance similar to "Reason to Be." And then a bluesy, David Gilmour-like guitar solo adds another dimension.

"No More Time For Love" This is a rocking blues number similar to "Grand Fun Alley," just more upbeat and heavier. The bass and harmonica are outstanding in this context. Of course I have a suspicion that Livgren pens this ditties for an opportunity to cut loose and show off his chops on the fret board, which he certainly does during the middle.

"Safe Alone" Adding even more variety to the album is this one, which is more in the vein of a 1990s R&B / party song. In that respect, it sounds like a cut from the Kansas album Vinyl Confessions. It has a busy sound, with funky guitars and brass.

"Cold Gray Morning" Not all of the songs were pieces not selected for Kansas's 2000 release and relegated to a Livgren solo project; fans of the band will recognize this as the only Livgren-penned song on Freaks of Nature- a fantastic album in its own right. I honestly have a difficult time deciding which version I prefer. It is one of the more symphonic tracks on the album, and is given a bold treatment with some mighty fine guitar playing.

"As It Should Be" This instrumental almost smiles in its jubilance. There's exquisite organ, brass, electric guitar, fabulous bass work, competent drumming, and an acoustic guitar chunking out the chords in the background.

"Red Money" Here is another gritty number. This has a real Stevie Ray Vaughn smokehouse blues flavor, though. This is a second opportunity for the songwriter to just have some fun and jam.

"At Every Turn" This transitory piece features one of the best vocal performances on the album. It becomes complex very suddenly, however, with gorgeous feminine vocal counterpoint and a beautiful melody.

"The Man With An Iron Heart" A blend of symphonic and blues, this piece has a static rhythm for the most part that makes up the bulk of the song. Livgren has a fantastic guitar solo at the end. I liked this song a lot for some reason when I first heard it, but its lack of dynamics makes it depreciate just a little with each listen.

"The Dragon" Music suited for the climactic battle between a sword-wielding hero and the titular creature abound in this piece. Livgren engages in a spirited guitar solo- one of his best performances on the album.

"So Ends The Show" This ninety-second conclusion is reminiscent of a pompous Styx song.

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 Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A truly eclectic and diversified creation from Kerry Livgren this one.

In just over an hour, we're served compositions ranging from mellow folk-inspired affairs to majestic soundtrack.inspired symphonic creations, with detours to AOR-tinged territories as well as a funk-tinged blues-rock affair that sounds like it was pulled off one of Robin Trowers earlier solo efforts.And a couple of fusion escapades are thrown in for good measure as well.

The first half of the album is a slightly mixed affair, with "The Sentinel" as a standout venture here; but on the second half of the album one gem after another appears; with the latin-tinged energetic fusion tune "As It Should Be" and the more laid-back organ-dominated "The Man with an Iron Heart" as two of many highlights in a diversified collection of songs exploring a multitude of stylistic variations.

Those looking for a well made album covering a broad spectrum of styles should try to get hold of this album; and especially the last seven compositions should charm and fascinate many purveyors of progressive rock.

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 Seeds Of Change by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.50 | 22 ratings

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Seeds Of Change
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Kerry Livgren had been saving some songs he'd been working on for a solo project, withholding them from Kansas after his conversation to Christianity in 1979. The music on this album is fairly diverse, and while there are many moments of brilliance, everything is pretty bland overall, especially compared to the amazing compositions he wrote for Kansas. There's an array of guest musicians, not the least of which is Barriemore Barlow of Jethro Tull fame and vocalist Ronnie James Dio.

"Just One Way" The first song from Livgren's debut has a fairly simple chord progression during the singing, but overall this song sounds like it was ripped right from the Audio-Visions sessions, especially the introduction. The soloing is good, but a little bland over the same chord progressions; what is missing are the carefully crafted sophisticated instrumental sections Livgren is known for.

"Mask of the Great Deceiver" The music here sounds rather different from Kansas, and Ronnie James Dio's gravelly voice alongside electric guitars give this song a somewhat heavier edge at times. It also has some subtle elements of R&B during the verses. The synthesizers in the instrumental section are intriguing

"How Can You Live" This, I believe, is the clearest "window" (no pun intended) that exists with regards to the question, "What would Kansas have sounded like if Steve Walsh hadn't left before the turn of the decade?" There's some slightly cheesier music that's riddled with pop-sounding melodies, basic chord progressions, and, of course, Christian lyrics.

"Whiskey Seed" Livgren is known to dabble in other styles of music from time to time ("Dust in the Wind," he admits, did not sound like anything Kansas would be doing). Here is a down home cornbread-and-biscuits blues song, with whiny slide acoustic guitar, harmonica, and this: Livgren actually takes to the microphone for once, and get this- the guy's voice sounds good on this sort of gritty, bluesy music. He actually sounds a bit like Greg Allman. This song is a curiosity more than fantastic music, but I take it for what it is.

"To Live for the King" Now this is something very different; if one were to ask (and I doubt I'll ever get asked this in my life), "What would it sound like if Livgren collaborated with Pink Floyd," I'd put this track on. The music, with that clean, chorus-laced guitar in the background, simple drumming, the choir piping in sometimes, the squealing lead guitar- take away the Christian lyrics, and what's left is something that would have fit right snugly in the middle of Wish You Were Here.

"Down to the Core" My least favorite song on the album is this one. The exaggerated vocals (which sound a little like those of the late Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, but in a bad way) are a little silly, and the music is nothing special. There are some good bits, but mostly it's boring and does nothing for me.

"Ground Zero" The longest piece is overall superior to everything else no the album. Finally, there's the elegant and more complex musical arrangements Livgren is so blessed with inventing. The piano playing throughout is very classy, and Kansas violinist Robby Steinhardt and drummer Phil Ehart join in. The music generally, however, sounds very similar to what Livgren would have on his instrumental album One of Several Possible Musiks.

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 One Of Several Possible Musiks by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.97 | 12 ratings

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One Of Several Possible Musiks
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Kerry Livgren is a master of composition, and his body of work with Kansas alone proves it. Kansas, however, was not known for their instrumentals (The two-minute exercise "The Spider" is the only one, and Steve Walsh wrote that). While this instrumental work may not be on the same level as Camel's The Snow Goose, it has several pieces which are excellent listens, and despite the time period, solidifies Livgren's place among the great progressive rock composers. It gives one pause to consider what these pieces might have evolved into had they been preserved for the later Kansas album Somewhere to Elsewhere or one of the Proto-Kaw releases.

"Ancient Wing" The beginning piece on this album has an uplifting introduction, but mainly serves an opportunity right off the bat to showcase Livgren's talents as a tasteful guitarist. The bass throughout sounds almost exactly like what would appear during the instrumental section of "Alt. More Worlds Than Known" on the Proto-Kaw album Before Became After.

"And I Saw, As it Were.Konelrad" This is probably the most dynamic and exciting piece on the album. There is the sound of brass instruments at first, followed by an extremely fast drum and bass beat that introduces Livgren's piano playing at his best. There is the sound of someone announcing "Red alert, red alert- this is not a drill," followed by electric guitar soloing. There are sound effects, additional keyboard, and further piano that make this track quite exciting. It ends with sound of newborn baby crying.

"Colonnade Gardens" Following a short brass introduction, Livgren plays some soulful electric guitar over some fairly cheesy 1980's sounding music (particularly the drums). After two minutes, the piece slows to a keyboard-based section over a lone snare drum. It is highly enjoyable, but could have used to more build, especially since the piece goes into a short harmonica section that leads into a second guitar solo all of a sudden.

"In the Sides of the North" These strings have an epic feel, making this sound like something that belongs in a grand war movie (perhaps Braveheart)- nothing short of beautiful.

"Alenna in the Sun" Several stringed instruments and a Grecian feel are what this is all about. There are some fantastic guitar leads on this one, as well as further piano soloing. The only trouble is that the main riff is overused; other than that, I have no complaints. It happens to be one of my favorites on the album, though.

"Tannin Danse" This piece has a tribal feel, with more primitive-sounding instruments. It probably represents Livgren's urge to be diverse on this album. There are a few interesting parts, but for the most part, it's decent background music, but nothing more.

"The Far Country" This piece sounds like it could have belonged in the Kansas discography (despite the instrumentation). Initially it makes me think of the instrumental section of "Journey from Mariabronn." Livgren uses the harmonica and the electric guitar as lead instruments throughout. It is neither the best nor the worst on this offering.

"Diaspora" Featuring more "world music" sounds and blending them with other synthetic sounds, this piece is a bit unique. It features a rare organ solo, again demonstrating Livgren's prowess on the keys.

"A Fistful of Drachma" Another excellent piece from this album, this one again features a sound similar to what will be heard on the later Proto-Kaw releases. Livgren gives us one of his best piano performances here, one that makes me think of "Distant Vision" from the Kansas album Somewhere to Elsewhere. Soon enough, there is a grand guitar solo that fades out with the song.

"Tenth of Nisan" It was on the tenth day of Nisan (the Hebrew lunar calendar) that the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River to begin their conquest of the promised land of Canaan, beginning with the seemingly insurmountable city of Jericho. Hence the music sounds like a royal procession, with a marching snare drum and a choir.

"Eerie Cove" The final track (a bonus track, it seems) has strong guitar work and wonderful keyboard passages, along with what sounds like an acoustic bass guitar. It has an intriguing middle section, laden with the sound of bass and clarinet.

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 AD Live by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Live, 1998
2.00 | 1 ratings

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AD Live
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Garion81
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
2 stars AD is the short lived (4 albums over three years) 1980's group founded by Kerry Livgren This is the only live release form the group who did tour extensively through the two years surrounding the first two major label releases Time line and Art of the State. Judging by the set list this comes from the latter albums tour. Certainly these was no studio doctoring as the recording has all the warts of a live performance missed notes, beats and missed harmonies. Not many thankfully and in general this band was pretty tight.

Besides a few solo parts the songs don't differ much from their studio sound overall. The songs are generally the more accessible songs from both albums and missing somethings like The Fury, Up From the Wasteland and Welcome to the War which I would have enjoyed more. There still is some good things here Warren Ham's vocals for one and his flute and sax that are really important to the overall sound. The one dated drawback of this sound is the cheesy 80's keyboards. Kerry and Mike Gleason do their best with them but you can do so much. In the keyboard solo Mike includes some of his melodies from his now out of print solo album called Voices From the Old World. These are really good. Dave Hope's bass lines are great too as are Kerry's guitar work. Some of the best things are Tonight, Lead Me to Reason, The Only Way to Have a Friend and New Age Blues

Still even though this collection of songs might introduce someone to this band who might explore them more I still think this might be just for fans of Livgren's work with Proto-Kaw and Kansas for those who haven't heard this before or people who want to hear Kerry say "Toto were no longer in Kansas". 2 stars

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 Reconstructions by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.07 | 9 ratings

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Reconstructions
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Garion81
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This was the third offering from the 1980's group AD founded by Kerry Livgren. I should note hear that this is now called Reconstructions Reconstructed. The album has not been in print for years and the CD version was replaced with this one. As stated the original was recorded and released in 1986 by 4 of the five original members. Warren Ham had left the group but returned to do all the vocals on the last AD Prime Mover. So that leaves with tenor Mike Gleason to sing here. While Mike has a great voice there was a reason Kerry had two lead singers. Warren had that great blues voice that would have helped tremendously on a song like Exiles and Life of Crime. Mike tries but doesnt have that kind of power behind his voice.

Other thoughts on this one are the music is professionally played but like many groups in the 1980's the prog sections are shortened and sometimes veiled. You really have to listen closely to hear them. Even though most of this CD was re-recorded there seems to be those cheesy 80's keyboards lurking behind every corner. This album is very poppy. The vocals and hooks are very much 80's pop/rock although the music is a lot more adventurous than the majority of that camp. If you can get past those trappings there are some excellent songs here. The aforementioned Exiles and Life of Crime as well as No Standing which is a great ballad in the vien of Dust in the Wind with keyboard violins! Other highlights are Walking the Wire with a great Dave Hope bass line. We Draw the Line is a great little rocker. Of the three bonus tracks Bright Star is the best. A great piano/flute (keyboard) intro and has the most proggy musical breaks.

All in all not a bad recording. The remastering/re-recording helps it a lot. If you are interested in Livgren I would suggest you try Collectors Sedition or Art of The State before trying this one. 3 stars.

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 Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Collector's Sedition-Directors Cut
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Garion81
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This was already my favorite Livgren solo release and now it is even better. The history of this album briefly was in the late 90's Kerry had prolific time of writing. Some of the material he had he thought sounded like Kansas so he contacted Kasnas drummer and manager Phil Erhart and Erhart listened and agreed. So the reunion album of Somewhere to Elsewhere was born.

This album is what was not chosen for that album. Livgren in the liner notes that he felt some pressure to release these tracks and he did so. In his own mind he never felt they were much more than demos so he wanted to revisit this CD an give these tracks their due diligence. With exception of some of the vocals and guitar tracks this CD is re-recorded, song order is changed and one song dropped and another added. Kerry also brought in Proto-Kaw band mates bassist Craig Kew and Drummer Mike Patrum to lend a hand. Proto-kaw's Jake Livgren has the majority of the lead vocals and sings on 7 tracks 5 other vocalists cover the other 7 tracks. The cover was even re-touched up by original cover artist Ken Westphal and the CD label was also redesigned. So this is almost a brand new album with familiar songs.

The re-recording is phenomenal these songs almost sound brand new. The re-mastering of already digital tracks from 16 to 24 bits is also shocking in its clarity. Livgren also stated he evaluated every keyboard track used for orchestration and most were rewritten and re-recorded using newer samples. I am telling you they really stand out now compared to the original. From the first note of Am Juengsten Tage you can hear the difference. When the drums kick in in On the Air you start to think this is really special.

The songs that were great before are stellar now and as good as anything Kerry has written and recorded with anyone. These are On the Air, The Sentinel, Hindsight, Cold Grey Morning and The Dragon. It is such a shame that these songs are never going to be heard live as they truly show the brilliance of Kerry as a songwriter and musician. The real beauty of this CD though is on the other songs I regarded as not as much on the original release. Songs such as the Navigator which is a ballad with a great vocal by Jake Livgren but all the nuances under the vocal in the acoustic guitar and the bass are really heard now and add so much to overall song. A song like As it Should Be comes alive with some great keyboard/guitar work and with its Latin rhythm it sounds almost like a live track. Livgren even adds a crowd response in it to make it seem more so. The backing vocal work in At Every Turn seems right next to you on this recording along with great new orchestration. This one is going to get a lot of listens on my play list.

There was one song that didn't make it on this Song Du Jour because the original master was lost. Kerry remastered the final cut as best he could and it is available for download at I-tunes. It was replaced by an add on called So Ends the Show kind of a Sgt Pepper outro so I am disappointed that we lose a complete song to this novelty even with its great guitar solo. So as much as I would like to give this a 5 star I will have to give it 4.5.

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 Prime Mover II by LIVGREN, KERRY album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.11 | 8 ratings

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Prime Mover II
Kerry Livgren Crossover Prog

Review by Garion81
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Prime Mover was the last of the AD band recordings. This was truly a transitional album and for what ever reasons budget money to record had dried up in the 1980's for Livgren and the band he supported. Because of this Kerry Livgren decided to re-record this cd except for the vocals making it the second in this seiries of remakes following Reconstructions Reconstructed and follwed with last years Collectors Sedition Directors Cut

The previous album, Reconstructions, only used Mike Gleason on lead vocals Livgren allows the other AD vocalist Warren Ham (Bloodrock) to take that duty on this one. I can't say what my impressions of the original version of this having not heard it in some 20 years but this remake is something special.

Livgren takes on all rolls here musically playing guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. Ham adds some sax and flute to give other colors. I find a great mix of styles used throughout Livgren's career. Out of Opus is a short keyboard only piece that opens the stage. It moves into Portrait II a remake of the Kansas classic. Here Kerry goes with the rule if you remake a song make it different. As Portrait for Kansas is a hard rocking classic it turns here into a lavish symphonic song using more keyboards than guitars and parts of it almost Jethro Tullish in places thanks to Ham's flute. Yes, as you might except the lyrics change to reflect Kerry's spiritual views and Ham sings them wonderfully. Some other songs that follow in this symphonic vein are I Will Follow You (great instrumental breaks) Brave Hearts and Children of the Shadows (which should have been a Kansas song).

Because Ham has such a great blues voice Livgren gives a few songs in that vein as well. T.G.B. represents this style very well. Its not even a new song back when this was first released as I had heard it on the first AD tour as an encore. This song has a great blues rock beat using piano and harmonica along side some great guitar work. Ham's voice shines on this song. Other songs in this hard rock or blues style are Fathers and Sons, Fair Exchange (another Kansas remake) and New Kind of Love.

A couple of songs really sound like they are out of the first two AD albums they are Don't Pass Me By with some great guitar and flute, Wandering Spirit and Item 89. It does seem that Kerry was really moving away from this type of song with this album and turning more towards his solo work to come. All in all this is not a Kansas album or a Proto-Kaw album but a filtered AD album. Some very good things on this CD and not a bad place to start with a solo Livgren album. This re-recording takes away a lot of the dated sounds of the original I am sure. If you like Kerry's work pick this up. As with other solo works Kerry's refusal to use a drummer hurts it in places so I can only give this 3 solid stars.

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Thanks to Garion81 for the artist addition.

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