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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 544 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Mysteries and Mayhem should have been the title track, because there is a good deal of prog mayhem, but the rest is pure mystery (and not in the good sense). This may be one of the most uncohesive, uneven albums I have ever heard. Can this be the Kansas that I have grown to love? Unfortunately, yes...this album begins a slide toward pop intrusions (though in my opinion, Leftoverture was fortunately spared for the most part) to great prog. On visual inspection, it has a cool album cover (sea creatures making up the profile of a face) and an epic-length track (nearly ten minutes), so what is there to worry about? Well, the first song provides an ominous clue...

The pop: It Takes a Woman's Love, Two Cents Worth, It's You. The first is really the worst offender. Maybe it's not a bad song if written by John Mellencamp or Tom Petty, but this just does not fit Kansas. The other two at least have fleeting proggy moments, but by and large they are rock-by-numbers, and certainly not worth buying the album for.

The 'tweeners: All Over the World, Child of Innocence. The former has the Kansas sound, but simply isn't one of their better extended numbers--the chorus is a bit cliche, and there isn't enough energetic playing to compensate. The latter is moving more toward classic Kansas, with plenty of rocking, a powerful chorus, and a nice outtro (though the fade-out is poorly executed).

The prog: Icarus, Mysteries and Mayhem, The Pinnacle. Here is what makes the album worth your money. Icarus has all that is great about Kansas: soaring harmonies, rocking instrumentals (featuring both keyboard and guitar), and a killer finish. In Mysteries and Mayhem, it seems like the band has had enough of restraint in the album and decides to cut things loose--this rocks from start to finish. Finally another good Robbie song! And Kansas continue to show how to finish a album, with the spectacular The Pinnacle. This song takes all of the highlights from previous songs, performs them more poignantly, integrates them wonderfully, and in so doing creates a great extended piece. This represents all that we know Kansas was capable of in this period: great lyrics, unique instrumentation, and memorable melodies.

Too bad this wasn't an all-prog album, because there is plenty of A-prog material. Unfortunately, you can't overlook the generic and cheesy rock. I would recommend this album only to those who have explored every other album from Kansas' first five.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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