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Kansas - Vinyl Confessions CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.71 | 210 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Forget that all but one of the original members are still in Kansas- this is a completely different band, even if Kerry Livgren is heavily involved. As every Kansas record after 1980 until 2000 shows (with the noteworthy exception of their 1998 work with the London Symphony Orchestra, which is excluded for an obvious reason), for some reason, it takes both Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh to produce a Kansas masterpiece. The album they put out following the departure of their lead singer, with new man John Elefante, is by no means a bad album, but it is clearly lacking in several departments. The album has "commercial attempt" written all over it, and in that respect, the band had some moderate success with the first song. A lot of the lyrics are terribly pedestrian, an aspect that should have been addressed during the songwriting stage. The budding Contemporary Christian Music industry applauded Kansas's new Christian direction. Most of the stronger material is during the second half, with the more progressive tendencies of previous albums. A number of guests appear on this album, including David Pack of Ambrosia, as well as Roger Taylor (drummer for Queen), who performs background vocals on "Play The Game Tonight," "Right Away," and "Diamonds & Pearls." Unfortunately, the great talents of Robby Steinhardt go almost unused here; he would leave the band for a long period after the tour in support of this album.

"Play the Game Tonight" Kansas, like Yes, went towards "the white spotlight" of commercial success with this number. It's catchy, good for what it is, but nothing like what Kansas should have been.

"Right Away" With a boring chord progression and lazy vocals during the verses, this song staggers along, and is quite simply one of my least favorite tracks in Kansas history.

"Fair Exchange" A moderate bluesy rocker with harmonica (courtesy of Warren Ham), this is okay, but only just. The chorus really reminds me of tracks like it on the debut album.

"Chasing Shadows" One of the better songs on the album, this features dark piano and acoustic guitar. The vocal passages are smooth and satisfying.

"Diamonds and Pearls" The initial music always fools me into believing I like this song. Then the Toto-like jazzy piano and trite vocals come in, and sometimes I cringe. The chorus is okay, even enjoyable sometimes. There is a peppy saxophone solo to escort the song out.

"Face It" This song features a lovely introduction before becoming a funk-laced rock song that bothers me simply because it has a highly pleasing section before the refrain. The keyboards are the interesting aspect of the song.

"Windows" This is decidedly the most progressive track here, with great variations, violin, and amazing vocal melodies. The instrumental section is not at all unlike those of the previous Kansas incarnation, with tight musicianship and some fiery lead guitar.. The ending definitely begged for more though, and it's a shame Livgren didn't provide it. Dave Hope's bass stands out among the other instruments.

"Borderline" A steady, upbeat rocker, this song could have been enjoyable were it not for the lame lyrics. The guitars during the instrumental section are excellent, but the handclaps detract from it.

"Play On" Not a bad track, this one has some good organ in the background and a well-written, if simplistic, guitar solo.

"Crossfire" Yet another song full of music that could have worked in the waning period of Kansas (such as on Audio-Visions). For once, Robby Steinhardt, makes a clear vocal appearance, and Elefante's voice is at its best here.

Epignosis | 3/5 |


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