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Kansas - Masque CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 544 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A "Masque" is a performance based on a mythological or allegorical theme. "Masque" has both: mythology (courtesy of "Icarus/Borne On Wings of Steel") and allegory that takes shape during the second half, where a child of innocence grows old and sees the material world for the Vanity Fair that it is. I can appreciate the fact that KANSAS wanted to kick their two cents' worth into the progressive fairy tale, fashioning (with bands like Boston) a new England in America that might produce vehicles with the muscle of a Chevy and the grace of an Austin-Healey. And yet it's an uneasy alliance, with songwriters STEVE WALSH and KERRY LIVGREN pursuing different aims. Walsh would have been better suited to BAD COMPANY, where everyone might agree that "love" means the love of a woman. For Livgren, "love" means love of God. It's not a question of who's right or who's wrong, but whose story is it anyway? "It Takes A Woman's Love (To Make A Man)" and "It's You" sound like the work of a different band than the KANSAS of "Icarus" and "Child of Innocence". So this is a progressive rock album most of the time, a rock album some of the time, and a watered-down version of their English counterparts (GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS, JETHRO TULL) regardless. At their best, KANSAS does give the music enough dynamic tension to intrigue the idle ear; instrumental sections on "Icarus", "All The World" and "Two Cents Worth" at least kick up some dust.

But like a lot of Christian rock, the songs hold something back, perhaps afraid to explore that dark place in our minds where we find the most exotic fishes. Brief flashes of fire from PHIL EHART and RICH WILLIAMS are too quickly snuffed out, and solos from ROBBIE STEINHARDT confuse celerity with complexity. The brilliance of GENTLE GIANT is that the band could break apart in mid song and still synchronize their individual acrobatics. KANSAS, by contrast, stays clumped together like the Bowery Boys in a haunted house. I suppose slightly left-of-center rock fans take comfort in KANSAS, and for them "Masque" is a pleasant prequel to "Leftoverture" and "Point of Know Return".

daveconn | 3/5 |


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