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Kansas biography
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 come to an abrupt end.

III- THE 1990s: The Third Generation
The new lineup released their second live album, "Live At The Whiskey", and featured live renditions of their classics. In...
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Buy KANSAS Music

The Best of KansasThe Best of Kansas
Remastered · Extra tracks
Sony Legacy 1999
Audio CD$4.25
$1.77 (used)
The Prelude ImplicitThe Prelude Implicit
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$7.89
$5.18 (used)
The Prelude Implicit (Special Edition)The Prelude Implicit (Special Edition)
Extra tracks
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$8.90
$9.90 (used)
Point Of Know ReturnPoint Of Know Return
Audio CD$2.85
$2.84 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set
Sony Legacy 2015
Audio CD$16.39
$15.57 (used)
Epic Europe 2001
Audio CD$4.61
$6.65 (used)
Audio CD$2.91
$2.90 (used)
Song For AmericaSong For America
Audio CD$2.90
$0.30 (used)
Audio CD$2.74
$2.73 (used)
Audio CD$2.91
$2.90 (used)
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Going to Kansas City by Jay McShann (CD, 1987, New World Records) USD $6.00 Buy It Now 6h 16m
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Blues from Kansas City by Jay McShann (CD, Jul-1992, GRP (USA)) USD $25.00 Buy It Now 6h 19m
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KANSAS discography

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

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

3.99 | 516 ratings
4.14 | 603 ratings
Song For America
3.68 | 444 ratings
4.22 | 927 ratings
4.14 | 657 ratings
Point Of Know Return
3.19 | 312 ratings
3.04 | 240 ratings
2.71 | 194 ratings
Vinyl Confessions
2.21 | 185 ratings
Drastic Measures
2.70 | 199 ratings
2.86 | 171 ratings
In The Spirit Of Things
3.69 | 13 ratings
The Christmas Album
3.24 | 182 ratings
Freaks Of Nature
3.39 | 126 ratings
Always Never The Same
3.49 | 231 ratings
Somewhere To Elsewhere
3.96 | 175 ratings
The Prelude Implicit

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

4.30 | 214 ratings
Two for the Show
2.90 | 45 ratings
Kansas - Live at the Whiskey
2.63 | 38 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (1989)
2.17 | 15 ratings
Live: Dust In The Wind
4.03 | 60 ratings
Device, Voice, Drum
2.15 | 9 ratings
Dust In The Wind
1.52 | 6 ratings
From The Front Row...Live!
2.06 | 7 ratings
Greatest Hits Live (Kansas)
4.11 | 52 ratings
There's Know Place Like Home
4.30 | 10 ratings
Bryn Mawr 1976
2.39 | 4 ratings
Carry on for no Return

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

3.28 | 14 ratings
Best Of Kansas Live (VHS) (aka Live Confessions DVD)
4.21 | 60 ratings
Device - Voice - Drum (DVD)
4.58 | 56 ratings
There´s Know Place Like Home (DVD)
4.21 | 15 ratings
Miracles Out Of Nowhere

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

2.53 | 72 ratings
The Best of Kansas
3.83 | 40 ratings
The Ultimate Kansas Box Set
3.14 | 13 ratings
The Definitive Collection
3.24 | 39 ratings
The Best of Kansas (1999)
1.35 | 8 ratings
Extended Versions
3.91 | 30 ratings
The Ultimate Kansas
4.14 | 7 ratings
Closet Chronicles - The Best of Kansas
4.13 | 5 ratings
Dust In The Wind
4.17 | 31 ratings
Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004
2.95 | 7 ratings
On The Other Side
2.41 | 8 ratings
Works In Progress
4.15 | 18 ratings
Original Album Classics
3.76 | 5 ratings
The Music of Kansas
4.29 | 12 ratings
The Classic Albums Collection 1974-1983

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

3.75 | 4 ratings
What's On My Mind
4.00 | 5 ratings
Point Of Know Return
4.00 | 6 ratings
Carry On Wayward Son (Adelante, Hijo Descarriado)
3.75 | 4 ratings
Portrait (He Knew)
4.00 | 6 ratings
Dust In The Wind
2.29 | 5 ratings
People Of The Southwind
3.17 | 5 ratings
Hold On
4.00 | 4 ratings
Play The Game Tonight
3.75 | 4 ratings
Right Away
3.75 | 4 ratings
Fight Fire With Fire
2.29 | 5 ratings
All I Wanted
3.13 | 5 ratings
1.46 | 5 ratings
Stand Beside Me
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Light

KANSAS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Starting this piece I should mention that I was never a fan of Kansas. I respect them a lot, I like their music the normal amount, I have some of their albums in my music collection, but that's all. So, when I heard about the release of the new album I didn't pay much attention. So, I am not going to write a detailed review, but I will write some of my thoughts instead. The Prelude Implicit is the first album that the band released after 16 years of silence. Their previous studio work was 'Somewhere to Elsewhere' that was released in 2009. I wasn't sure if that album was a good idea, especially since two of their most important members were not in the band anymore. (For those who are not so familiar with Kansas, I should mention that Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh, who used to be the basic songwriters are not a part of Kansas anymore). But despite all that, I decided to give the album a try, and I was really surprised! The Prelude Impicit is a very good album and it includes all the classic elements and the typical sound of Kansas, that the band became famous for, and it is very pleasant to the ears. But further than the sound, there is one more very important matter. The singer! Steve Walsh had a very characteristic voice, and it is always a risk to replace the singer. But in this case, there is no problem at all. His replacement (Ronnie Platt) has a very similar voice and his overall performance is excellent! The album includes some fine moments, starting with the beautiful With this Heart, which is the opening song. As for the Progressive Rock fans, they will surely love 'The Voyage of Eight Eighteen', the longest song in the album, which is simply wonderful! The truth is that, The Prelude Implicit requires a few listenings in order to fully appreciate it, so give it some time before you make your final decision. In general, the album sounds 'fresh' enough, and the band seems to be in a good form. I definitely recommend this album, not only to the 'hard-core' fans of Kansas, (who already bought it I guess), but to all those who, like me, respect this great band and can appreciate a really good album. My rating would be 3.5 stars, but I will give 4. P.S: I think that as some point PA should allow us to rate the albums more detailed, and give half stars as well. Not only 1-2-3-4-5.
 Always Never The Same by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.39 | 126 ratings

Always Never The Same
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars We're not in Kansas anymore

When looking at the track list of this album you will immediately notice several familiar song titles which might lead you to assume that this is either a live album or a compilation of some kind. It is not a compilation as all the material here is newly recorded. It isn't a live album either, though it does have a live feel. But neither is it a regular studio album. What we have here is the band re-recording some of their classic songs and a few new ones together with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The album was recorded in the famous Abbey Road Studios in London, England and this location explains why they choose to open the album with a cover of a well-known band that is associated with the studio in question. This is followed by orchestral versions of Kansas classics like Song For America, Miracles Out Of Nowhere, Dust In The Wind, and Hold On, alternating with orchestral interludes and some newly written songs.

In my opinion, Kansas' wonderful music is not benefited by the orchestral treatment and the presence of the orchestra adds little of value. The novelty of the orchestra wears off pretty quickly and one is left wondering what the point of the whole exercise is.

Preamble is composed by conductor Larry Baird and functions like an intro to Song For America while Prelude And Introduction is an orchestral medley of some other Kansas songs. The most interesting new compositions are In Your Eyes, The Sky Is Falling, and Need To Know, all of which were written by Steve Walsh. These are not essential by any means, but at least they make this album worthwhile for the fans as they are not available elsewhere.

The selections from the band's back catalogue are rather predictable and most of these songs are featured in much better versions on multiple live albums. If you wish to hear Kansas performing with an orchestra with much better results than what can be heard on this album, I would recommend the very much better live concert video and album There's Know Place Like Home.

 Kansas - Live at the Whiskey by KANSAS album cover Live, 1992
2.90 | 45 ratings

Kansas - Live at the Whiskey
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars One for the money

Live At The Whiskey features a live performance recorded and filmed in 1992. The album was Kansas' second live album after 1978's Two For The Show and the video (released on VHS) was the band's second live video after 1982's Best Of Kansas Live. While the latter has been reissued on DVD (under the more appropriate title Live Confessions), the Live At The Whiskey video footage has never been reissued on DVD - and most probably never will be as the video quality is said to be poor (I haven't seen this film myself).

Since the band didn't have any new album out at this point the set list featured on Live At The Whiskey consists entirely of Kansas classics, primarily from the Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture albums. Almost all of the songs featured here were previously included on the fantastic Two For The Show and the band were doing themselves a certain disservice with this choice as it inevitably invites a comparison which is not favourable to Live At The Whiskey. They could have chosen a few more interesting songs that had not been featured on a live album before, but as it stands this set list is just too predictable. To be fair, they did change the arrangements a bit on some songs bringing in an element of surprise.

The European version of this album that I'm familiar with has Journey from Mariabronn (including Belexes) as an extra track while the American version oddly has a 1975 live recording of Lonely Street instead.

A good, but hardly necessary live album.

 The Best of Kansas by KANSAS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1984
2.53 | 72 ratings

The Best of Kansas
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Not perfect for the lover of Kansas (or for the beginner)

The Best Of Kansas was the band's first compilation album, and like most releases of its kind it is almost useless. But in this case not completely useless as it does hold one track not available anywhere else: Perfect Lover. (I'm speaking here of the original version of Best Of Kansas released in 1984. The 1999 version omits Perfect Lover.) This song was written by the then current lead singer of the band John Elfante (together with his brother Dino, not a member of Kansas) and could have fitted well on the 1983 album Drastic Measures for which the Elfantes wrote the bulk of the material - and which, in my view, is the least good Kansas album ever. Fight Fire With Fire is one of these songs from that album which is also present on this compilation. Elfante first joined Kansas for the 1982 album Vinyl Confessions, and that album is represented here by Play The Game Tonight.

Two tracks from 1980's Audio-Visions are present, Hold On and No One Together, bringing the number of 80's tracks up to five (out of ten tracks in total). From the 70's albums, we have two songs each from Point of Know Return - the title track and Dust In The Wind - and Leftoverture - Carry On Wayward Son and The Wall. Finally, an edited version of the title track from Song For America is chosen. The albums Monolith from 1979, 1975's Masque, and the self-titled 1974 debut are overlooked. Needless to add, the focus of this compilation is not on the progressive side of the band. This may be Kansas' greatest hits, but by no means is this the best of Kansas.

As is almost always the case, you are much better off getting the original studio albums on which these songs first appeared (plus those albums not represented here) and not bothering with this compilation unless you are a hard core fan who will want this album (the 1984 version) for the one track not available elsewhere to complete your collection.

 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by pacidy

4 stars I just bought this album and feel that I will be listening to it, at least parts of it, for quite a while. There's a lot of musical depth here, reminiscent of the early days of Kansas. It's the first album with Ronnie Platt on lead vocals. His voice is clear as a bell, reaching the high notes with relative ease, sounding some combination of the early Walsh but with a softer feel, not the same stridency that Walsh sometimes got. The music is pretty solid throughout, and at its best, at least compares with such songs as Hopelessly Human or Closet Chronicles, thought not really coming close to the greatness that is Song for America or Magnum Opus.

With This Heart -- didn't really like this one at first, but it has grown on me with its uplifting feeling and lyrics

Visibility Zero -- lyrics seem to be about our current Congress! The music here is uninspiring until the lead violin comes in. Those instrumental interludes pop up a lot in the middle of songs, elevating them above the ordinary, as in ...

The Unsung Heroes -- a rather maudlin song is saved by the dual lead violin/guitar interlude. I can't help but think of Peyton Manning yelling, "Cut! That! Meat!"

Rhythm in the Spirit -- the first attempt at a real prog song. This one doesn't know whether it wants to be a heavy metal or a Kansas song, alternating between dissonant guitar crunching and a violin passage reminiscent of the end of Song for America. The slow coda seems like a missed opportunity -- this could have been extended and developed into a dramatic ending, a whole other section, or even a separate song.

Refugee -- what a beautiful and haunting song about the ongoing tragedy of human sex trafficking. The acoustic guitar intro sets the tone right away.

The Voyage of Eight Eighteen -- the longest song and a great one -- there's a lot of musical richness here, what with the guitar now playing an often somewhat dissonant counterpoint, rather than a harmony, to the violin, and unexpected sonorities popping up here and there. I feel like I'll probably discover more to it with each relisten. Lyrically, it continues the theme of Rhythm in the Spirit, reading as the yearning in all of us for our better natures, for the light of understanding to sweep away the darkness of superstition and fear, for evolution.

Camouflage -- this one gets darker, with the lead guitar and organ carrying the instrumental passages, appropriate for the lyrics which point at someone who is about to be exposed.

Summer -- this song brings in something from the early days that's missing in most of the album. Tempo. Velocity. Pace. Fast enough to get you up and dancing, in the tradition of such boogie-woogie rockers as Can I Tell You, Down the Road, Carry On, Wayward Son (at least the coda), Point of Know Return, Lightning's Hand, or even Stay out of Trouble. You can almost feel the older band members shedding about four decades for this one.

Crowded Isolation -- another standout song. Is that a Moog I here in the instrumental? It's wonderful, whatever it is. The driving guitar with its octave intervals pounds this song into the brain, and the organ solo ends it in a flourish.

Section 60 -- a tribute to fallen soldiers needs to be elegaic and soaring, and this one is, ending appropriately on a rudimental drum outro.

Bonus Tracks -- I like the instrumental Oh Shenandoah! the better of these two, probably because I'm not wild about either song.

Overall rating -- This is hard. I want to give it 4 stars, but really, is it as good as Point of Know Return? Maybe; comparing The Voyage of Eight Eighteen with Helplessly Hoping, it's hard to say, but I think the shorter tracks on PoKR are stronger. Is it really an "Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection?" It's definitely not up there with "Leftoverture," but that's a legitimate 5-star album. I think The Prelude Implicit is at least 3.5 stars, so I'll be generous and round it to 4.

 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by James007

5 stars Albums thrown together this late in a band's career are always a tricky proposition. This project was being completed without any assistance from Kerry Livgren. I think we'd all seen the track record when he's not involved (see "Freak of Nature"). So I was prepared for this album to be somewhere between Ho-Hum and Mailed-In. I am here to say that I was completely wrong. This album has many fresh moments and is often inspired. Kansas fans will be extraordinarily pleased and the general rank and file prog fan will enjoy this album as well. Is it on par with "Leftoverture" or "Song For America"? Nope. Is it the best offering they've thrown down since POKR? I think so, and I am an unapologetic fan of "Somewhere to Elsewhere" and "Vinyl Confessions". Newly found lead singer Ronnie Platt is Steve Walsh without the tight pant or huge ego. They've added a second guitarist for the first time since Steve Morse left them and the addition is impressive. The solo passages on this record are well executed. The vocal harmonies are crisp and fun, and the violin bits are the best David Ragsdale has given us. And while I'm at it, Billy Greer is underrated as a bassist. All in all, a solid effort from a bunch of geezer I'd written off. Well done
 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ok, I´ve got to admit: I´m impressed. Very impressed. Kansas`s first studio album after 16 years was not something I was waiting eagerly. After all, I could not think of this band without Steve Walsh. Secondly, it seemed that the band really needed at least one Kerry Livgren song on the album to make it worthwhile. And now reduced to only two original members (guitarist Rich Williams and the indefatigable drummer Phil Ehart), none of them much of songwriters themselves, how could the "new" Kansas be of ay relevance, or even interest?

Well, thanks to some correct choices of new recruits, the band really resurrected from the ashes (the Phoenix on the cover is no coincidence). Not only they chose the right people to play, they also had some strong and convincing material to release. First think you´ll probably notice is how Ronnie Platt did the seemly impossible task of replacing Steve Walsh: the guy not only has a very similar voice but has also his emotional interpretation. Not a small feat for such an iconic and unique singer. He even plays the keyboards! The fact that the band decided to hire a second guitarist (Zak Rizvi, also a songwriter and producer) and keyboards player (David Manion) made the band sound stronger and closer to their classic line up.

Of course nothing of this would never had worked out without good new compositions. And the band delivered the good! The first three tracks were very good, but did not really move me, maybe because they were short ones. They were certainly strong enough to justify their inclusions but the "real" classic Kansas comes in full power from Rhythm In The Spirit onward. That song has all the right elements you´d expect from the good old days: prog stuff with great guitar, violin and keys interplay. The rhythm section is also on top form and added to the powerful delivering of Platt´s voice it becomes one of those tracks that would sit comfortably along with any other of their 70´s stuff. Better still, the following tunes were as good as this one! Sometimes in songs like the 8 minute+ The Voyage of Eight Eighteen you´ll feel like you´re hearing something lifted direct from Leftoverture or Mask. The semi-acoustic Refugee is another highlight, but really, The Prelude Implicit is one of those CDs you want to listen to again and again, without skipping a single track. Everything here takes you back to their glory days without really copying themselves: the music is different, yet so familiar and refreshing you cannot help but loving every minute of it.

I would not go as far as another reviewer that says this CD is their best since Point... but I must say that it´s very hard to find anything after that one that has the same balance between tracks, that sounds as good as a whole. Certainly it´s Kansas best in decades.

If you´re a fan of the band you can go no wrong with this album. It´s a real resurrection of a great group. I only hope it won´t take them so much time to bring us with such brilliant record. It was well worth the wait, though. Welcome back, my friends!

Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by Progresearcher

4 stars In my opinion, KANSAS is America's most important progressive rock band, and some of their releases are among my all-time favorites. Of course, after a 16-year wait, I was eager to listen to the combo's new album, "The Prelude Implicit", even though I knew that neither Kerry Livgren nor Steve Walsh participated in its creation. What I can tell you from the outset is that I liked the recording, albeit not as much as its predecessor, "Somewhere to Elsewhere", which, to my mind, is perfect in every respect. About one third of the songs on "The Prelude Implicit" have a more modern sound than the others, and while the instrumental arrangements are interesting everywhere on the album, on some of the tracks (such as the first two, for instance) those are rather short, unlike the vocals-based ones, which, in their turn, are rather straightforward there, the overall picture reminding me of a cross between "Power" and "Freaks of Nature", though with the latter outing mainly due to the presence of violin. Almost all of the other tracks have a classic Kansas sound, referring to the band's work in the second half of the '70s. Ronnie Plant is a very good vocalist, besides which his voice is very similar to Steve's, as also is his way of singing in particular. Most of the time I had the impression that I was listening to a logical continuation of the style presented on "Point of Know Return", as if "The Prelude Implicit", with its (mostly) grandiose musical palette, equally rich in elements of classic symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, is a follow-up to the band's 1977 masterpiece. Only within the movements that are driven by the Hammond, the music sounds slightly different than classic Kansas. I don't know whether it's Ronnie Plant or (another newcomer, keyboardist) David Manion, who plays it, but all the organ solos on the album are quite strongly reminiscent of those in Deep Purple. The acoustic ballad 'Refugee' isn't as strikingly impressive as 'Dust in the Wind', but it doesn't matter much, because it has a lot of its own merits (and there is no contradiction in what I said). All in all, I'm happy to say that the band didn't let my expectations down with this - their third - 'comeback' album.
 The Prelude Implicit by KANSAS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.96 | 175 ratings

The Prelude Implicit
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars `Comeback' works or even modern album releases from vintage progressive rock acts are a risky business. Often there's no fire or inspiration left in the group, the material has become too watered down and straight-forward to be accepted by the prog-snobs, or worst of all, the new works are simply dismissed or ignored altogether by all but the die-hard faithful. So it's completely unexpected that a fresh line-up of symphonic rockers Kansas, with founding and long-serving members Phil Ehart (drums), Billy Greer (bass), Rich Williams (guitars) and violinist David Ragsdale backed up by an amazing new vocalist Ronnie Platt and other skilled musicians have delivered a perfectly vital and very inspired new album in 2016, `The Prelude Implicit', and it's jammed full beginning to end with everything that Kansas fans love about the band, with not a filler track in sight.

Perhaps because Kansas already had the AOR sound present in their music right from their early Seventies debut that it's no surprise to find that element here, but it means the group avoid the accusations that befall so many older prog-rock groups of `selling out' or now being `too commercial'. Impeccably performed melodic rock/pop tunes with the warmest of soaring vocal harmonies, colourful instrumental displays and fleeting moments of prog grandiosity are the order of the day here, and it's actually quite comparable and not too far removed from the recent Ted Leonard-fronted Spock's Beard albums! In many ways, `Prelude' almost picks up right where 1977's `Point of Know Return' left off, so fans of the classic first five LP's of the band should feel pretty comfortable here.

Opener `With This Heart' is equally strong and gentle AOR with a comforting chorus, but if the Kansas faithful aren't immediately sold once Platt's voice starts gliding effortlessly with a melody that is instantly identifiable as the classic band, then the first sprinklings of grand piano, sturdy drumming and dignified violin should seal the deal nicely! The biting lyric of the even better `Visibility Zero' is well delivered by the dramatic guitars and endless washes of keyboardist David Manion's Hammond organ, with a soaring chorus that has been kissed to perfection by the gods of pop, and `The Unsung Heroes' is laid-back and jazzy with the first hint of a more powerful extended instrumental burst in the middle. But it's the six-minute `Rhythm in the Spirit' that delivers the first more overtly `proggy' moment, a mix of constant heavy grooving riffs, lightly programmed beats, careful orchestral-like synths and scorching hot Hammond with wailing twin-guitar runs (delivered by both Williams and new member Zak Rizvi), and there's cheeky call-backs in the chorus to themes from the title track off Kansas' 1975 classic `Song for America' that will have fans beaming (plus a surprise last-minute Mellotron and bass coda is very welcome!).

`Refugee' is a reflective ballad with soft acoustic guitars and Ragsdale's subdued weeping violin (don't forget, David's also pulled prog-duties on Spock's Beard and Glass Hammer discs amongst plenty of others!), and a deeply haunting ambient outro is very surprising to hear on a Kansas album. `The Voyage of Eight Eighteen' is the longest piece at over eight minutes and will surely become a firm favourite for fans of the group, holding the lengthiest instrumental stretches with all the musicians getting standout soloing moments (and Billy Greer's loud and upfront bass-playing throughout is a real highlight), and there's plenty of Deep Purple-like heavy riffing alongside thick organ on `Camouflage'.

`Summer' is a snappy and joyful up-tempo blast of unashamedly poppy rock energy, and the melancholic but ultimately lyrically hopeful `Crowded Isolation' is constantly driven by intimidating brooding drums, with an instrumental passage in the middle of eerie spacey atmosphere, flighty violin and bubbling synth soloing almost briefly calling to mind the Kansas-like 1977 `Black Noise' debut album from Canadian proggers FM. Finally, the fully instrumental `Section 60' (referring to the final resting place for fallen United States military personnel that served in Iraq and Afghanistan) is suitably dramatic and proud, full of noble piano and heroic guitar/violin themes in the typically powerful classic Kansas tradition - a `Song for America' indeed.

Not simply some bunch of `tired all men', Kansas successfully achieve here with `The Prelude Implicit' what many oldies prog acts fail to do - release all-original new material that doesn't fall short of the quality and energy of their defining works and offer an album that can stand proudly on its own strong and modern merits. Devoted Kansas fans will likely be very happy with what they find here (as well as very surprised!), and hopefully this begins a whole new phase of inspiration for this rejuvenated version of the group.

Four stars (and bonus points for the wordy and proudly proggy album title!)

 Carry on for no Return by KANSAS album cover Live, 2016
2.39 | 4 ratings

Carry on for no Return
Kansas Symphonic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Well this is kind of interesting. The 'latest' for Kansas fans who are eagerly awaiting their first studio album in nearly seventeen years ('The Prelude Implicit' will release in September, 2016), here is yet another blast from the past to whet your appetite. 'Carry on for no Return' is the release of a live FM radio broadcast first recorded November 20, 1980 at the Palladium in New York City.

Let's start off by acknowledging this thing for what it is. I'm not sure who owns the label Good Ship Funke but they are clearly an intentionally-anonymous industry insider with a firm grasp of the intricately nuanced world of publishing and broadcast rights, and of music licensing in general. This is of course not a major label release, obvious since the band hasn't even been on a major label in more than twenty years. On the surface this actually looks like a bootleg, but turns out it is a marginally, technically legal release although not authorized or endorsed by the band. Much like the 'Bryn Mawr 1976' CD off the Smokin' label in 2014, this is a live radio broadcast where someone managed to get their hands on a moderately decent recording and secure rights to release it. I seem to recall reading a couple years ago about somebody buying rights to recordings from a buttload of 70s and 80s live performances. Can't remember the details and it doesn't really matter, but I suppose that would explain why we've seen so many baby boom-era live concerts being released on CD in the past few years.

Anyway, the signs of skirting the edges of publishing laws are many. First the album name 'Carry on for no Return' since 'Know Return' would have been more appropriate but would I'm sure also have drawn the interest of Kirshner and Eric copyright attorneys. The font used for the band name hints at their signature form by using an unusual style, but carefully avoids drawing from the actual authorized band font. And the stock photo on the front cover was cleared many years ago in a press kit, so the label didn't have to shell out anything for artwork or pay licensing fees to a photographer.

Speaking of photos, there's another 'public domain' photo used on the back cover and the liner notes. This one features Steve Morse and Steve Walsh live in concert. Unfortunately, Steve Morse didn't even join the band until 1986, and this photo comes from a series of concerts in Philadelphia in 1989, nearly a decade after the concert on the CD. Interesting though that the folks at Good Ship Funke included their own copyright claim for the CD packaging and artwork, even though both photos in the artwork were released by the band themselves as promotional material many years ago.

There are no performer or production credits in the liner notes (since that's not legally required) but there are credits for each song's composers on the back cover (because that is required when one owns the broadcast but not the publishing rights for a piece of music). And that's about it, other than a brief and accurate but boring 'history' of the band on the inside sleeve.

So to be clear, this CD is a shameless attempt to grab a few bucks based on name recognition and probably hopes that the timing will lead to confusion by some dullards who will pick this up thinking it if the new Kansas studio album. Kind of like last year when the film Krampus came out and right after it finished its limited-theater release, Redbox started promoting Krampus: the Reckoning leading fans to believe (probably intentionally) that this was a sequel when in fact it was an appallingly awful and poorly produced movie that had no connection to the real film whatsoever. So for that alone I'm deducting two stars (probably should make that three).

So why bother to write about the record at all? Well, anyone who knows the band knows they've been around for more than 45 years, but their heyday was clearly 1975-1980. And back then they were known as a supremely talented live act, with many fans even preferring their live performances to the studio ones, as evidenced by their 1978 double-live 'Two for the Show' topping one million sales just three months after its release. But surprisingly there are relatively few live recordings that survived that period, other than a small number of fairly well-known bootlegs, none of which is of very high quality and none at all that I'm aware of that are from the Audio-Visions tour like this broadcast was. So for those reasons the disc is worth some consideration, at least by serious fans.

In addition to a rather nice introduction from Wagner's 'Lohengrin', there are thirteen Kansas songs on the CD along with one each from Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh's respective solo albums that were both released in 1980. I'm not sure if that was the entire concert but given the playlist matches those from several other shows on the same tour I'm guessing this was all or at least most of the music that was performed that evening. And for the most part I think the thing is in its actual sequence, the exception being the closing 'Relentless' which was probably originally played somewhere in the middle of the show but moved to the end here because it would make a stronger closing piece for the radio broadcast than the more languid 'Hold On'. Seven of the ten tracks on the Audio-Visions album are performed, along with the obligatory 'Dust in the Wind' and 'Point of Know Return' (although surprisingly not 'Carry on Wayward Son'). The front half of the concert consists of abbreviated versions of older material including 'Icarus/Borne on Wings of Steel', 'Hopelessly Human', 'Paradox' and a shamefully brief 'Cheyenne Anthem' that clocks in at less than four minutes. This is followed by a clear break from the past with Walsh's 'So You Think You Got It Made' from his 'Schemer Dreamer' album that was released that spring. This morphs into 'The Mask of the Great Deceiver' from Livgren's own 1980 solo album 'Seeds of Change', the two contrasting their respective authors' styles as 'Mask' is a much more progressive, brooding and introspective song than Walsh's boogey blues rocker. After that the concert shifts focus to the present and other than an abbreviated 'Miracles out of Nowhere' the rest of the show consists of songs from their current album ('Audio-Visions').

There are several observations about the quality of the show that night that are worth commenting on. First and foremost, the early stages of Walsh's vocal fall from grace are evident here. While he manages to hit some key notes (particularly early in the show), he struggles later, is sometimes off-key, and several times lays off high notes when it seems to be beyond his range. There's also more vocal participation from Robbie Steinhardt, something that would become common over the ensuing years until Steinhardt left the band. And there seems to be a bit of a struggle at times between the two of them over who is leading, when to harmonize and when to step back. This is most apparent on the newer stuff although Steinhardt steps all over Walsh on 'Miracles' where I think he's trying to take some of the higher stuff Walsh isn't reaching but Steve doesn't want to let those go. This is also something fans would continue to see at Kansas concerts for many years after this. I witnessed it myself during at least five concerts in the 80s and 90s.

There's also an interesting attempt to placate older fans while reaching out to new ones, and doing this in the ADHD-and-coke 80s where long progressive songs were about as popular as rectal thermometers. So the band includes some old-timey favorites like 'Icarus' and 'Cheyenne Anthem', but guts the instrumental passages to get them down to something resembling an MTV-length soundbite. 'Cheyenne Anthem' suffers most and of all the live versions I've heard of that song over the years, this one is by far the worst.

On a positive note though, there are several songs here that you will have a tough time finding live versions of anywhere else, in particular 'Don't Open Your Eyes', 'So You Think You Got It Made', 'No One Together' and 'Anything for You'. All are from 'Audio-Visions' and as far as I know no other live versions of these songs has ever been legitimately released. And the performance quality on these is pretty decent so if you're a fan of that album then this CD might be worth your time.

Otherwise I can't say this is something anyone should go out of their way to find and listen to. It is interesting to hear the band in concert shortly before they fractured into pieces, but beyond that there's not much new here and the sound and production quality isn't much better than if you had recorded this on a TDK cassette back when it first aired thirty-five years ago. Two stars for the historical significance and for having live versions of songs that aren't available elsewhere, but nothing more than that.


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

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