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Kansas - The Definitive Collection CD (album) cover

THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 14 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars As Kansas collections go, this is not one to buy if you’re looking for a ‘Greatest Hits’ album (‘Best of Kansas’ would be that one); or if you are looking for a retrospective type of collection that includes key tracks as well as a comprehensive written and pictorial history of the band (the ‘Kansas’ boxed-set from 1994 is your choice there). Nor is it even the best overall band biography: you can get the 2-CD, 1-DVD, and written/pictorial collection ‘Sail On: the 30th Anniversary Collection’ for about the same price and have an opportunity to listen to songs from every studio album plus 16 videos while you’re reading about the band’s entire history.

So why buy this one? Well, I can’t really say. I did, but that’s just me – I’m a fanboy. But if you’re going to pick it up anyway, or happen to run across it at a used record store or rummage sale or maybe find it in a closeout bin somewhere, it’s worth picking up if you don’t have any of the other collections I mentioned earlier. All the obligatory hits are here and most are the original studio versions (a couple sound like they’ve had a bit of cleaning up done to them, but not much): “Point of Know Return”, “Carry on Wayward Son”, ‘Dust in the Wind”, etc. etc. “Song for America” and “The Wall” are from the ‘Two for the Show’ live 2-disc album, and these are excellent live recordings. And even the few later tracks that are included aren’t the more annoying ones I would have expected: “Tomb 19”, “Stand Beside Me” and “Hope Once Again” are decent enough to represent the latter years of the band. This was released in 1997 so there isn’t anything from ‘Device-Voice-Drum’, ‘Somewhere to Elsewhere’, or ‘Always Never the Same’, but you can get samplings of all those albums in the ‘Sail On’ collection.

The biggest disappointment is that there are very few liner or other accompanying extras. This is part of Sony’s generic, plain-label ‘Definitive Collection’ series, giving you the songs but little other value-add. I have a few of these: Kansas, Yes, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion…. Okay, I’m kidding about that last one. Anyway, these are decent collections to pick up if you just want to have the recordings so you can rip them and include them on your own collection CDs for traveling, or for your iPod, or whatever. These aren’t for throwing on the stereo and listening to all the way through. Sony just wants their cut if you are determined to have these songs without actually buying all dozen or so albums they originated from. Fair enough.

One warning – two of the three Sony ‘Definitive Collection’ CDs I have bought had at least one disc in each of them that wouldn’t play, and I had to return both of these for an exchange. In the case of Yes that wasn’t a problem, but with this one I had to wait a couple weeks for my record store to get around to ordering another copy since they only stock one. I’m not sure if this is an indictment of effort for quality Sony puts into these collections, but aside from these I almost never buy a CD that won’t play, so I’m suspicious at least.

A couple pleasant surprises are “Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman”, a beautiful work that doesn’t make it onto very many collection sets because of its length; and “Wheels” which as far as I know is only otherwise available on the 1994 boxed-set. “Cheyenne Anthem” would have been nice here, especially a live version, and “Perfect Lover” would have been an excellent choice to leave out, but overall this isn’t a bad collection.

An interesting bit of trivia: while I'm sure this was meant to be a requiem for Kansas, the fact is they were still very much alive and touring. However, of the six band members featured on the album's cover, four of them had not been part of the band for more than a decade. John Elephante is shown although he only recorded three of the songs that appear here. Steve Walsh, who sang the other twenty and was in the band at the time, is not shown. Neither are Steve Morse, Greg Robert, David Ragsdale or Billy Greer, who do not appear on the album of course, but were all in the band at the time.

Three stars only because this is good music and assuming you don’t get a damaged CD and don’t have to pay too much, you won’t likely be sorry you bought this. If you have the ‘Sail On’ and 1994 boxed-set collections, you have everything this one has so you might as well skip it. Otherwise, a good collection, but not the best.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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