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KANSAS

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Kansas picture
Kansas biography
Founded in Topeka, Kansas, USA in 1970 - Continued activity with different line-ups - Still active as of 2017

Original members Kerry LIVGREN (guitar) and Phil EHART (drums) combined their two separate bands into one large band. Kerry's band was called SARATOGA, and Phil's was called WHITE CLOVER. The band changed its name to KANSAS. They were from the beginning just an ordinary rock band, but were quickly compared to other progressive bands in the 70's like GENESIS, YES and KING CRIMSON. Combining the musical complexities of British prog-rock with the soul and instrumentation of the American heartland, KANSAS became one of the biggest selling and most successful touring acts of the 1970s. With huge hits like "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust In The Wind", they helped define the sound of "classic rock". They are loved all over the world.

I- THE 1970s
The Early Days: Their self-titled debut album was released in 1974, but nationwide response was slow. Their second album, "Song For America", saw a softening of KANSAS' sound, with more classical influences evident. The third album, "Masque", featured more pop songs and lyrically quite dark. They suffered ridicule from people around the world, because they wore overalls and had a violonist, which made people think that they were a country music group.
The Best of Times: "Leftoverture", with the popular single "Carry On Wayward Son", became a signature piece and pushed the album to platinum success. The followup, "Point Of Know Return" (1977) contained the ever-popular acoustic "Dust In The Wind". During their tour, they recorded their first live album, "Two For The Show" (1978) and the next studio album "Monolith" (1979).

II- THE 1980s
Seeds Of Change: A year later, the band followed up with "Audio Visions", the last production of the original band lineup. WALSH left the band due to creative differences. "Vinyl Confessions" had Christian lyrical content. The next album, "Drastic Measures" (1983), had some hard rock material on it, including the song "Mainstream". In 1984, the band released a greatest hits compilation, "The Best Of Kansas", which featured one new song, "Perfect Lover".
The Second Generation: The group split in 1983, only to reform in 1986 with the albums "Power" and with "The Spirit Of Things" (1988). Sales of these two albums were not very strong. Thus, the second generation of KANSAS had...
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KANSAS discography


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

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

4.00 | 650 ratings
Kansas
1974
4.14 | 758 ratings
Song for America
1975
3.66 | 563 ratings
Masque
1975
4.22 | 1211 ratings
Leftoverture
1976
4.17 | 835 ratings
Point Of Know Return
1977
3.24 | 407 ratings
Monolith
1979
3.05 | 312 ratings
Audio-Visions
1980
2.74 | 247 ratings
Vinyl Confessions
1982
2.21 | 225 ratings
Drastic Measures
1983
2.71 | 245 ratings
Power
1986
2.82 | 208 ratings
In The Spirit Of Things
1988
3.22 | 224 ratings
Freaks Of Nature
1995
3.38 | 147 ratings
Always Never The Same
1998
3.50 | 281 ratings
Somewhere to Elsewhere
2000
3.81 | 296 ratings
The Prelude Implicit
2016
3.65 | 136 ratings
The Absence of Presence
2020

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

4.33 | 265 ratings
Two for the Show
1978
2.91 | 51 ratings
Kansas - Live at the Whiskey
1992
2.65 | 42 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (1989)
1998
2.13 | 15 ratings
Live: Dust In The Wind
1998
4.04 | 72 ratings
Device, Voice, Drum
2002
2.19 | 11 ratings
Dust In The Wind
2002
1.61 | 9 ratings
From The Front Row...Live!
2003
2.08 | 10 ratings
Greatest Hits Live (Kansas)
2003
4.17 | 63 ratings
There's Know Place Like Home
2009
4.23 | 13 ratings
Bryn Mawr 1976
2014
2.58 | 7 ratings
Carry on for no Return
2016
4.69 | 33 ratings
Leftoverture Live & Beyond
2017
4.88 | 7 ratings
Point of Know Return Live & Beyond
2021

KANSAS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.26 | 14 ratings
Best of Kansas Live (VHS) [Aka: Live Confessions DVD]
1982
4.21 | 71 ratings
Device - Voice - Drum (DVD)
2002
4.60 | 65 ratings
There“s Know Place Like Home (DVD)
2009
4.15 | 20 ratings
Miracles Out Of Nowhere
2015

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

2.55 | 81 ratings
The Best of Kansas
1984
3.83 | 48 ratings
The Ultimate Kansas Box Set
1994
3.10 | 14 ratings
The Definitive Collection
1997
3.26 | 45 ratings
The Best of Kansas (1999)
1999
1.36 | 9 ratings
Extended Versions
2000
3.93 | 37 ratings
The Ultimate Kansas
2002
4.25 | 8 ratings
Closet Chronicles - The Best of Kansas
2003
4.16 | 6 ratings
Dust In The Wind
2004
4.17 | 37 ratings
Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004
2004
2.97 | 8 ratings
On The Other Side
2005
2.50 | 9 ratings
Works In Progress
2006
4.17 | 20 ratings
Original Album Classics
2009
3.71 | 6 ratings
The Music of Kansas
2010
4.40 | 16 ratings
The Classic Albums Collection 1974-1983
2011

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

3.50 | 4 ratings
What's On My Mind
1977
3.94 | 8 ratings
Point of Know Return
1977
3.96 | 7 ratings
Carry On Wayward Son (Adelante, Hijo Descarriado)
1977
3.40 | 5 ratings
Portrait (He Knew)
1978
3.96 | 8 ratings
Dust In The Wind
1978
2.25 | 5 ratings
People Of The Southwind
1979
3.20 | 6 ratings
Hold On
1980
3.50 | 4 ratings
Play The Game Tonight
1982
3.25 | 4 ratings
Right Away
1982
3.25 | 4 ratings
Fight Fire With Fire
1983
2.21 | 5 ratings
All I Wanted
1986
3.08 | 5 ratings
Power
1987
1.40 | 6 ratings
Stand Beside Me
1988
2.33 | 3 ratings
The Light
2001

KANSAS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Song for America by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.14 | 758 ratings

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Song for America
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by userme1

5 stars Hymn to the Atman is my all-time favorite Kansas song and i think it doesn't get the credit or playing time it deserves for being a true prog rock masterpiece! Kerry Livgren's poetic words are like a miracle out of nowhere as they put it. You have to be old to know what growing old means. and his brilliant poetry combined with outstanding musical creativity and innovation make this recording a one of a kind gem that may never be done again. If there is one song that i would like played at my funeral it would be this one along with Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings- another once in a lifetime masterwork of creative genius. Bravo to both.
 In The Spirit Of Things by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.82 | 208 ratings

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In The Spirit Of Things
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

2 stars By 1988, the record companies were pretty much giving up on reviving rock bands from the 70's. Kansas' record label still decided to give the band another chance, but since MCA dropped most of its classic rock bands after the release of "In the Spirit of Things" and really only made some half-hearted attempts to promote this record. I have to wonder, however, if it would have made much of a difference. Kansas was no longer sounding much like it's classic sound since they had catered to the whims of the record label and watered down their music so much that it wasn't anything close to progressive anymore. It was just very commercial sounding hard rock. Even the violin, the one signature instrument of Kansas, was missing. Really, the only thing that sounded like the Kansas of old was Steve Walsh's vocals, and they were getting a bit annoying by this time.

Kansas by this time was turned into a Top 40 style pop/rock band anyway, and this doesn't change at all in the album "In the Spirit of Things". All this album is, is a loose-concept album with a bunch of mediocre songs. Nothing here is really that interesting. To top it all off, there were no real hits to come off of this record, and even if the band was catering to the whims of the record label, it ended up bombing quite miserably. Even a lot of long-time Kansas fans were unaware of it's existence. Other than Walsh, there is really nothing here that suggests that this is Kansas. Dorothy and Toto must have been disappointed and the words "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" never rung sadder.

The highest points of the album come in the tracks "Ghosts", "One Big Sky" and "Rainmaker". But even these tracks are quite lackluster when compared to "Leftoverture" or anything released prior to that. Beyond that, there is really nothing on this album to salvage as one uninteresting track after another ticks itself off. There just isn't much here to get excited about.

The poor performance of this record brought in a big dry spell for the band who wouldn't release another album until 1995 with "Freaks of Nature", which was at least touted as a real reunion of the band. The band did remain active through these years, however, but lived off of touring 2nd rate venues and playing old hits of the 70s. Fortunately, this would not, however, be the end of the band as the did at least revive some of the spark in later albums. But, at the time of this album, things looked rather bleak for the band and no one really expected anything from them at this point.

 Two for the Show by KANSAS album cover Live, 1978
4.33 | 265 ratings

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Two for the Show
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

5 stars Kansas sing their America, with their art rock that contains the most varied influences. From classical to folk, up to progressive sounds. All filtered through the rock soul of their land. The band certainly represents the most convincing response to European progressive, in a period in which the latter was already accusing the first signs of a creative crisis. Although they had nothing to envy to their overseas colleagues in terms of technique and compositional skills, what distinguishes them most is the great sense of melody and the continuous search for airy and captivating refrains. "Two for the Show" is a double live that photographs the group at the peak of their artistic career and at the same time sanctions their inevitable downward trend.

I let myself be submerged by the wave of freshness of their music, in a stormy sea of moving emotion. Steve Walsh's keyboards are placed decisively at the center of a structure poised between impetus and romanticism. On which the guitars of the eclectic Kerry Livgren (also on keyboards) and Ric Williams are erected, alternating between powerful riffs and acrobatic intertwining. The refined textures of Robby Steinhardt's violin seal everything by drawing enchanting melodies. The notes flow, passing from the baroque embroideries of the anthem "Song for America" to the hard rock incursions of "Icarus - Borne on Wings of Steel". The live songs acquire more power and dynamism than the studio versions and the sound is more aggressive.

It is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the charge of "Carry on Wayward Son". The perfect alchemy between Steinhardt's deep voice and Walsh's more powerful one is a significant added value. And what about the beautiful and timeless ballad "Dust in the Wind"? One of those songs for which any artist would sell their soul in order to write. Kansas, however, are not only excellent musicians, but also give us verses of great depth and depth, which touch the poetic language. Texts that know how to excite both when they embrace naturalistic and humanitarian themes with great sensitivity, and when they touch more introspective topics. As in the poignant "The Wall", which addresses the theme of doubt and human frailty, while guitar and voice compete in giving us moments of great intensity. "Mysteries and Mayhem" and "Magnum Opus" finally make us understand on which scores Dream Theater have been practicing for years to set the stage for the phenomenon of "progressive metal".

Silence takes possession of the room. The quiet after the storm. While the mind begins to rework the wave of notes, images and emotions. That sense of excitement that music and art in general can give us. Reason that meets passion.

 Monolith by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.24 | 407 ratings

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Monolith
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

3 stars The proud silhouette of an American Indian chief, dressed up with the insignia of power and covered with animal fur, stands out next to a squared monolith, apparently a totem but which in reality, looking at the back cover, turns out to be one of the crumbling pillars that support the surviving vestiges of an ancient highway interchange, the site chosen by that man and his tribe to plant their teepees: this symbolic revenge of the American Indian, surviving in an apocalyptic future to his conquerors and Massacres, is the exciting welcome graphic to the 1979 album by the glorious group from Topeka, Kansas.

After the triumphal 1978 tour that saw Kansas support the multi-platinum "Point of no return" (in the wake of the worldwide success of "Dust in the wind"), the American sextet released "Monolith" in 1979. It was immediately clear that repeating the sales of the previous album would be a very difficult undertaking, in fact, despite being well played, arranged and produced, this record did not have a real hit capable of dragging it to the top of the charts. All in all, the songs contained here demonstrate, as always, the great class and virtuosity that is never an end in itself of these excellent musicians, even if in certain situations one can notice in the whole a slight creative decline that will be accentuated in the subsequent "Audiovisions" . The mastermind and the main author of the group's compositions is as usual the guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren.

But it is with "How my soul cries out for you" that Kansas seem to have gone out of their minds, a really crazy song, with a far west intro, a central drum break in which Phil Earth proves to be second to none in terms of fantasy and virtuosity and sudden accelerations at the end that leave everyone speechless, but you feel the forcing in wanting to overdo it and the song comes out in my opinion not very spontaneous. The flagship of Monolith is "Glimpe of home" worthy of being part of a hypothetical "greatest hits", because from start to finish it is a pleasure for the hearing and also in this case as well as for the opener, already mentioned, the melodies are spot on and not at all obvious as Kansas have always accustomed us. The markedly hard rock and blues influences are felt with the subsequent "Away from you" and "Stay out of trouble", the latter being truly enjoyable especially in the rhythm that puts the excellent Phil Earth to the test. The melancholy "Reason to be" closes the album worthily, supported by the fine voice of Walsh accompanied by an acoustic guitar preceded by a Synth intro.

What is certain is that this "Monolith" if compared with the previous (grandiose) works of Kansas hardly stands up to comparison, it is in fact interspersed with less convincing pieces that inevitably end up lowering the quality level and this is a real shame because already from the cover and the inclusion of valuable original and articulated pieces (which as always make us understand the immense compositional ability and taste of the six boys of Wychita), could have aspired to a certainly greater success, but as I repeat both the lack of a real single and the presence of a couple of rather useless tracks inevitably jeopardized its fate.

However, it remains a pleasant job to listen to especially if you discover the many apparently hidden technical passages gradually, unfortunately the progressive side of the group after "Monolith" will be almost completely lost in the '80s, giving way to a chromed and still excellent melodic hard rock by to which the Kansas themselves will be among the pioneers to most.

 Leftoverture by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.22 | 1211 ratings

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Leftoverture
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by Isaac Peretz

5 stars This band does not get the credit it deserves in this site or any site. Some of their best efforts (like this one) are truly some of the finest albums progressive rock has ever received. Leftoverture is a true explosion of creativity compressed into forty minutes, it's a top twenty prog album of all time in my humble opinion.

The album starts with a rock classic, Carry On Wayward Son, which features one of the most iconic riffs ever and an amazing solo section. The Wall is a beautiful ballad that talks about the same thing as Pink Floyd's The Wall, but years earlier! Works as an amazing break. What's On My Mind is a very proggy track with amazing Hammond keyboards. Miracles Out Of Nowhere is a truly amazing song that features a little from everything. Poppy sections, proggy sections, solo sections... very solid track.

Opus Insert is another beautiful ballad, one of my personal favorites from Kansas. Questions Of My Childhood is very similar to What's On My Mind in the way that it's a short and nice proggy track. Cheyenne Anthem is the second best track from the album that features a godly chorus.

Magnum Opus is one of the greatest prog tracks ever made. There's no question about that. The instrumental section that lasts for six minutes features some of the finest music you'll ever hear. It's insanely creative, fun, dramatic, and presented with perfect musicality. Truly a magnum opus!

It's without a doubt five stars for me, it's insane to see how low its rating is. This album is a classic!

 Point of Know Return Live & Beyond by KANSAS album cover Live, 2021
4.88 | 7 ratings

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Point of Know Return Live & Beyond
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

5 stars Kansas is a band that totally changed my life, for real. I heard the track Song For America at a low point in my life, when I was dealing with an injury that left me debilitated without any sort of direction. I had never heard anything like that in my life, along with other tracks such as The Pinnacle, The Devils Game, The Wall, Closet Chronicles.... my jaw was simply on the floor. Not only did their music really help and guide me through these struggles, but I found that I was completely baffled by the piano and organ playing. I ran right out and bought a cheap second hand Casio off Facebook marketplace and today, not only am I a classical pianist, but I'm also studying to complete my music education degree in the next few years. All this because Kansas ignited something in me. So understandably, they're a very special band to me and I will buy anything they release. I've been a big supporter of the current lineup of the band. I think Ronnie Platt has been a perfect replacement for Walsh in the recent years, carrying the range that Steve unfortunately lost over the years while still being very easily distinguishable from his predecessor. In 2017 they released their last live record 'Leftoverture Live and Beyond.' While that setlist could easily have carried it to a 5-star rating, that record was unfortunately plagued by some poor post production choices that covered a lot of the vocals in pretty blatant autotune and pitch correction. Not enough to ruin the album or anything, but it reasonably took some of the authenticity out of the "live" factor for me. It was frustrating, because anybody who knows the current lineup of Kansas as a live band knows that Ronnie Platt doesn't need it. He hits the right notes. That was somewhat of a small gripe I even had with their latest studio record. On this 2021 release, I'm happy to report that issue has been resolved and Kansas has delivered the second quintessential live album of their long career. Kansas has always been an incredibly tight band live, and the performances here are still flawless and full of life. Every member sounds so incredibly in tune with one another, which is made even more impressive by the fact that there are 7 people playing off of each other. I love the passages of the music where Billy Greer and Platt trade off vocals and harmonize. Their voices compliment each other so well, very similarly to Walsh and Steinhardt. I was also extremely impressed by Phil Ehart and how dialed in he still sounds. Of course, I have to mention Tom Brislin who also takes the keys to a whole different level properly covering a wider variety of sounds that you just wont find on Leftoverture Live and Beyond. The first disc covers a whole multitude of Kansas albums including several deep cuts off some lesser known albums. I really appreciate them doing this. Cold Grey Morning and Taking in the View were previously two songs that weren't really on my radar, but I think they work really well here. Of course you have the monstrous Song For America which is still to this day, a top 3 song of all time for me. However, the highlight of disc one in my opinion has to be The Wall. This rendition is so awe-inspiring and powerful. If this was the whole package, i'd be a happy camper. But there happens to be a second disc, and that second disc covers my favorite Kansas album 'Point of Know Return' in its entirety. It's just totally gripping and incredible start to finish. What I really appreciate is that the band hasn't slowed down or lost their edge at all. Everything is up to tempo, and they continue to carry a fiery intensity in their playing. You can tell every member is just 100% on board and fully into the music they're playing. The two tracks I have to highlight the most from this performance are Closet Chronicles and Hopelessly Human. The atmosphere the band drenches you in on the former is stunning. I also think it contains the best Billy Greer vocal performance on the album. Now for the latter, listening to this record made me realize that Hopelessly Human is a top 3 Kansas song for me, and honestly, this could be the best version of it out there for my money. The softer, airy piano led passages are simply staggering. As a little bonus, there's a nice acoustic set here with a really cool rendition of People of the South Wind, admittedly a track I've always been a little lukewarm on. It's a little transformed here and I really like what they do with it. I've always pointed to the Two For The Show version of Lonely Wind as the essential version of the song. Though I've always been hesitant, as it cuts out some portions of the studio version at the cost of an albeit very nice piano and guitar solo. The version on this release takes the best of both worlds and covers the whole song while still reaching that incredible peak that the former live version does. I could just keep funneling compliments into this live album all day.

I have nothing but praise for this release, but if you've made it this far you probably came to that conclusion yourself. If you're a Kansas fan whose willing to accept the band without Walsh and Livgren as a part of it, buy it.

5 Stars

 Masque by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 563 ratings

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Masque
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars 1975 is a pivotal year for Kansas who are in a particularly prolific phase of their career, then in full swing. In fact, in the same year they publish Songs for America and Masque, the second and third work of their discography respectively, just one year after the homonymous debut. With the first two works the group had already achieved a good status, emerging as a unique case in the US scene, by virtue of a paradoxically very European style already able to gracefully mix hard rock, folk, classical music and instrumental fugues, daughters of the best progressive tradition, a genre that was at the peak of its popularity at the time. Despite the excellent conditions, however, Kansas were still far from the enormous success achieved in the following years with the two bestsellers Leftoverture and Point of Know Return. For this reason Masque can be framed in a certain sense as a transition album, on the one hand still linked to prog tout court, on the other to the strenuous search for that perfect combination of chart-breaking pieces and artistic freedom that only very few can boast.

Taking this into account, however, it is good to underline it immediately, Masque is a great record. The eight tracks contained therein are practically all high-profile, revealing here and there real underrated gems and, in retrospect, a little overshadowed by the two sensational future successes. Apart from the two initial songs It Takes a Woman's Love (To Make a Man) and Two Cents Worth, as cheerful as they are light-hearted but in fact ordinary in proposing a hard- prog without particular jolts in the first and a nice guitar dirty with the wah pedal in the second - with an almost soulful vein - Masque definitely takes off starting from the third track. In fact, we think of the wild violin solo in Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel set to embellish a rocky hard rock ride with epic tones, or the roller coaster between solids and voids of All the World. And again it is a pleasure to be carried away by the hard-prog of Child of Innocence or by the fun and irresistible It's You (where Steinhardt again plays the lion's share with his trusty violin), or even the proto-heavy metal in abundant prog sauce. and loaded with reinforcement keyboards from Mysteries and Mayhem. And what about the final Pinnacle, which in nine grandiloquent minutes dispenses a successful bignami on how to write a prog piece in three distinct sections: the dynamic instrumental intro, the more reflective central part that leaves ample space for vocal lines alternating with short solo interventions and finally the classic instrumental closing in crescendo dubbed by the voice of the always effective Steve Walsh.

This album, as I said at the beginning, is a kind of transitional material, but regardless of this, this is another great success of this fantastic band.

 Song for America by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.14 | 758 ratings

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Song for America
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars After the surprising 1974 self-titled album that had made up their debut, the sextet released "Song for America" in 1975, yet another confirmation of the talent and uniqueness of the proposal formulated by the American group. The musical direction undertaken, although incredibly mature and technically flawless already with the previous platter, had not yet taken a well-defined turn, so it is with this second album that Kansas define their style by enclosing their musical world in a sound of theyr own. Influences and musical genres very distant from each other find in this context an amalgamation and a truly enviable body, we recall for example the strong country rock component, the massive doses of grandiloquent arrangements taken directly from the romantic period of classical music, the blues component is also important and heartfelt, ending with the predominant use of hard rock distortion that makes the power of the riffs the other fundamental characteristic of Kansas music. Each song can therefore be understood as a story in itself, starting with the opener "Down the road" which risks taking the listener immediately off topic since it does not hit anything with the rest of the album, the boogie rock sung by Steinhardt it is discreet as well as his violin phrases in a country "grass" key, but we are far from saying that this is a representative track for their music.

In fact, all doubts are dispelled by the title-track, more than ten minutes of authentic magic, the pomp prog proposed here is at the highest levels both in terms of creativity and technique, and from this point of view Kansas seem to fear no comparison with anyone. ; countertimes, splendid melodies, pure prog passages accompanied by that dreamy atmosphere that only classical music can recreate, appear in turn from this small work of art. The incredible voice of Steve Walsh and the extremely refined drumming of Phil Earth perfectly fit into this context. There is no respite and the third "Lamplight Simphony" is just as majestic and full of phatos, here too, as in the previous track, the style is decidedly marked by a romantic atmosphere interspersed with sudden changes of tempo. Rising like a rock in the middle of the sea, the heavy hard'n'blues of "Lonely Street", the massive guitar riff and the deep feeling of the voice of both Walsh / Steinhardt singers make this piece an important variation in key. hard rock of the album, which turns out to be one of the most heterogeneous of the Kansas production as already mentioned several times previously.

The tones become brighter the more frenetic rhythms, "The Devil Game" is an authentic bomb and in five minutes the American "naturalists" contain a concentration of energy that makes anyone pale, this is a track that borders on absolute masterpiece , the mastery of the instruments is exceptional, the proposed rhythm is a breathtaking hard prog ride and the rhythm section holds an odd tempo in continuous variation, in which acrobatic solos of violin and guitar alternate, and everything turns out to be the center of attention enough to make each instrument - including the voice - sound like a continuous solo. There could not have been a better ending then with "Incomudro" a twelve-minute composition, which can artistically summarize the incredible cultural background of the main inspirer of Kansas music and that is the guitarist / keyboardist Kerry Livgren, who manages in his great desire to amaze , because there is not a single second of boredom even in this long pomp prog rock digression, extremely spectacular are the approximately three minutes of Phil Earth's drum solo with his very original use of the double bass drum (and we are in 1975). from a series of effects that integrate it perfectly into the musical game of this latest piece. Credit for the success and importance of this platter therefore goes beyond the skill and class of all the musicians involved, to the compositional genius of Kerry Livgren, one of the most underrated musicians ever in the rock field; Kansas in fact, when they separate from him in the 80s, while maintaining a high quality standard of their music, will be forced to change genre moving towards AOR sounds (excellent however). In conclusion, a disc recommended to everyone without distinction, especially to prog metal lovers, you will see that it will not disappoint you and that it will reserve you many positive surprises.

 Kansas by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.00 | 650 ratings

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Kansas
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Formed in Topeka, Kansas, in 1970, under the name of White Clover they had been the shoulder to one of the last concerts of the Doors, in New Orleans, and that already speaks volumes. Thanks to a trip to England by drummer Phil Ehart, where he got to know the bombast of Genesis and ELP, the early style is immediately transformed into a delightful fusion of rock, folk and classical music. After numerous line-up changes the band takes the name Kansas and stabilizes in a sextet formed as well as by the aforementioned Ehart, by guitarists Kerry Livgren and Richard Williams, by bassist Dave Hope, by singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh and above all by ' important figure of classically trained violinist and singer Robby Steinhardt. The drafting of the album of the same name in 1974 is characterized by the production of Don Kirshner, discoverer of the Monkees. The style explicitly refers to the English prog of the early '70s, with boogie and hard-rock tints, and it is immediately a success: they fill stadiums and arenas, establishing themselves as the greatest American prog-band, even if initially the sales are not exceptional.

The production of the American group begins with a very lively and amused, almost joking style. Perfect for a festival of acrobats and trapeze artists, under a circus tent. A new and fresh sound, of which in those years we find very few similarities with the contemporary world of music. The folk rhythms combined with the synthesizers and the novelty of the violin work, with a damn winning alchemy. The differences with the Italian and British world of the time are clear and the refrains that we could define as pop have that something extra. We should immerse ourselves in the reality of the early 1970s, imagine being in the American state of the same name and having purchased a copy of the vinyl, on the cover of which we find war images, start the music and enjoy the show. Impossible not to think of the reaction of the very first listeners: "Oh my God!". As mentioned previously, the mix of prog, folk and blues works, a mix that interpenetrates gives life to something better than genres taken individually and giving a touch of never heard before. The guitar riff accompanied by the violin is memorable, with a cantabile and catchy refrain that does the rest, to permanently impress everything in history. The first half of the disc is characterized by these short and rapid songs, such as Bringing It Back, the daughter technique of the progressive genre is all in the tight exchanges of keyboards, organ, violin and guitar enclosed in three minutes or so. The initial wonder leaves room for a more classic ballad with nostalgic tones, Lonely Wind, on which there is no need to spend too much thought. What about Belexes, with the scratchy guitar typical of hard rock that further embellishes a sound already rich in characterizing elements that close with a short drum solo, the kind usually offered at the end of the concert. Journey From Mariabronn is the song that closes the A side of the vinyl, the first two minutes are dominated by the keyboards while the iconic voice of Steve Walsh gradually takes the chair. The second half of the song is a masterpiece, Dave Hope's bass dictates the timing for a change of register and we start with a riot of prog. The Pilgrimage opens the B side of the LP in an unpretentious and at times even light-hearted way, having fun while having fun. But we prog lovers don't like to have fun, we like to listen to long and technical suites. If we look at our continent and above all at the British production, defining a song of just nine minutes as a suite could be an offense, but here we are in the United States and we can expect a clear difference. Apercu leaves a lot of space for the violinist Robbie Steinhardt who draws sound textures in freedom, followed closely by keyboards, synthesizer, guitars, bass and so on and so forth, we are facing the highest moment, the climax of the record. Here we find the manual for every band that will approach neo progressive from the 90s onwards, that is practically all of Neal Morse's projects, if you want to joke about it. For the same speech made above, it is difficult to consider a nine- minute song in those years suite, even less one of not even eight, but this is how Kansas themselves define their Death Of Mother Nature. A grand closing of a band aware of having just built something new, a difficult-to-define genre that starts from blues, enriches itself with folk, passing through hard rock to get to the real final goal, progressive rock.

The final consideration is that in a certain hard-prog arena, along with Canadians Rush, Kansas have far excelled over any other European band. With the next four albums they will reach full maturity and become one of the most beautiful and original and, if desired, underrated bands in history.

 Point Of Know Return by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 835 ratings

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Point Of Know Return
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars The eras change but the destination does not change: in 1977 the Kansas, led by multi-instrumentalists Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh, decide to narrate the great adventure into the unknown, creating an emblematic musical fresco, entitled "Point Of Know Return".

The album takes up the speech started by the bestseller "Leftoverture" (1976), which paved the way for success thanks to a single of absolute value like "Carry On Wayward Son". The album was produced by Jeff Glixman, and it replaces the fluidity and gradual unraveling of its predecessor with greater attention to the song-form, which finds synthesis in the megahit "Dust In The Wind". But it would be wrong to focus on a song that probably remains - along with "Carry On Wayward Son" - the most famous of Kansas and not to listen to an album in its entirety that has no failure from start to finish, perfectly alternating the roughness from rock ("Lightning's Hand", "Sparks Of The Tempest") to the sweetness of the most romantic and accessible prog (alongside "Dust On The Wind", the splendid conclusion entrusted to "Hopelessly Human"). Robby Steinhardt's violin is fundamental in the sound of the band, an integral and never frilly part, absolutely organic in the crescendo of a piece like "Paradox". And if the title track may seem superficial, the mystery that cloaks "Portrait (He Knew)" reveals the depths that Kansas know how to plumb even with a apparently light and often sunny approach. In the midst of some direct and more rocking pieces, it is worth mentioning the changes of atmospheres and colors in the pomp rock of "Closet Chronicles", with Walsh in a state of grace, and the dreamlike hues of "Nobody's Home", which complete a picture still vivid and pulsating.

The premises of "Point Of Know Return" are hidden in the title of the album itself, where the word "no" has been replaced by the verb "know", displacing the English-speaking audience and creating a play on words that establishes a strong bond between the knowledge, its pursuit and the limits of the human strike, represented by the point of no return.

The departure towards the indefinite (or the tension to overcome one's limits) is the topos of the title track, which translates the era of geographical discoveries and its illustrious protagonists (first of all Christopher Columbus) into music. The narrative is dominated by the irreproachable desire to reach and contemplate the coveted goal ("Point Of Know Return"), an obsession that transpires from Walsh's insistent request and the frenetic embroidery of the violin, an essential component of the Kansas sound, capable of reinforcing the sense of latent uneasiness. The themes involved expand, leading us to the landscape of "Paradox". The lyrics acquire greater complexity, giving the song a cryptic and philosophical flavor: the burning question about the meaning of life can turn into an unusual desire, which pushes the human being looking for an answer. Man has always lived trying to make sense of his existence, convinced that reality hides much more than what it wants to show (... 'Cause I've been here and I've been there / seems like I've been everywhere before / I've seen it all a hundred times / Still I think there surely must be more). Consequently, the musical sector expands and intertwines: the intro of "Paradox" is entrusted to the sacred sound of the hammond, interspersed with short pauses; soon, the organ flows into the fast and intense touches of the violin while the whole acquires folk and regal colors, almost baroque. The fugue that is generated is structured on Walsh's warm, hard-oriented voice; the digressions of the strings multiply and expand in various and changing dynamisms (descending and tight rhythmic scales). "The Spider" is an instrumental interplay in which the band focus their technical expertise, articulating scores, which see the different instruments (keys, violin, guitar) alternate, overlap and merge with dynamism and vivacity such as to recall the rapid flick of a spider. The previous piece carries out the task of structured interlude to "Portrait (He Knew)", which deepens and updates the common thread of the disc, focusing the text on the historical and human figure of Albert Einstein: the famous physicist is the allegory of man that, driven by the thirst for knowledge (He was in search of an answer), crosses the limits of knowledge to arrive at new, great achievements. The word "portrait" is cleverly disguised in the text in the form of different and apparently unrelated words (view, his vision, a different idea, master plane), all expressions that lead back to the same, same meaning: the image of a revolutionary plan but incomprehensible to most people, conceived by a brilliant and prolific personality, aimed at revealing the hidden secrets that surround us and are hidden in each of us (In search of the nature of what we are). Once again the image of human dualism recurs, where the boundary between genius and madness is thin and blurred.

Without knowing it, Kansas with "Point Of Know Return" described not only an allegorical journey but also reached the apex of their artistic path. Beyond all, "Point Of Know Return" is yet another extraordinary testimony that reason and heart, science and myth are the two indivisible components of the human self, which challenge and love each other in a endless altercation.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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