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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover

MASQUE

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 543 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After two very good albums (the latest being a masterpiece IMO) I was curious to hear this album. I appreciated Kansas a lot in the 74-76 period but bizarrely I skipped this one at the time of the Masque release and bought "Leftoverure" after "Song For America". It is only in 2004 that I discovered "Masque".

Don Kirschner, the owner of their record company, would really have them create a "hit- single". He said : "Guys, I'd like to get something on the radio that's shorter than twelve minutes". So the band tried to please him and recorded the opener "It Takes a Woman's Love". They will say : "Here Don, here's something in the four minutes range that you can tap your feet to, that's in the same time signature from the beginning to the end".

At that time, Kansas was very productive : three albums in less than to years. They were touring like hell (opening for bands as Kinks, Mott The Hoople, Jefferson Airplane, Queen...). "We were never home" said Ehart. And when we did get home, it was to record an album.

"Two Cents Worth" is quite jazzy and boring : not really worth more than those two cents, I'm afraid. End of the song is cut strangely as well.

With "Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel" the story is different : at last a strong traditional Kansas song. Nice voices and chorus, great instrumental part (guitar & violin). Superb drumming as well. Definitely one of the highlights of "Masque". It belongs to the epic Kansas we all love.

"All The World" is another good Kansas song : very nice and subtle vocal sections. Yet, it lacks a bit in those furious instrumental passages Kansas has been used us to.

But we'll get these in "Child of Innocence" and "Mysteries and Mayhem" : they are the archetype of good hard-rock songs : sustained rythm, some guitar soloing and heavy keys.

And finally, another Kansas masterpiece to close this album : "The Pinnacle". And it is the pinnacle of the album. Great violin in the long intro (almost three minutes), then beautiful vocals make their entry. The traditional instrumental break is more keyboard than guitar oriented and less melodious than they used to be in other Kansas epics. The end is close to hard rock with a solid guitar break. This track is, toghether with "Icarus", by far the best song here.

Most of the songs featured on this album are rather short. More rock-oriented than prog (but they were asked to do so to have a broader commercial impact). The final result is not bad at all.

Kansas will tell that they were in an identity crisis : "There's a little bit of who we were on "Masque" and a little bit who we weren't".

If "Masque" was a fragmented time of experimentation for us, we were getting along great" says Livgren. "We were still very much on the uphill climb and that struggle kept us really unified". He will add : "Ironically, the thing that made us drift apart was success. Once you arrive, you don't have a goal anymore". Walsh recalls : "I have much more found memories of us being hungry than of us being satisfied".

The remastered version contains two demo versions of tracks released on the original album ("Child of Innocence" and "It's You"). The first two albums were better though. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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