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Kansas - Best Of Kansas Live (VHS) (aka Live Confessions DVD) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.28 | 14 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Not the best of Kansas, but a decent concert video documenting the John Elefante-era of the band

This concert was recorded in 1982 at the Vinyl Confessions tour. This means that Steve Walsh is not the lead singer here anymore. John Elefante is, however, both a look-alike and a sound-alike and he does a fine job both in the studio and live! His dance moves, on the other hand, are hard to stomach!

The rest of the band consists of Phil Ehart on drums, Dave Hope on bass, Kerry Livgren on keyboards and guitars, Robby Steinhardt on violin and vocals, Rich Williams on guitars and, finally, the guest musician Warren Ham on harmonica, flute, saxophone, keyboards and vocals. Ham's presence is surprising and interesting and adds a new dimension to the Kansas sound. Especially his flute and sax playing, which occasionally is allowed to come to the fore.

The set list relies heavily on songs from the Vinyl Confessions album; seven out of that album's ten tracks are performed here. Vinyl Confessions is hardly among Kansas' better albums, you could even argue that it is one of their least good ones. But still I think that it is clear that Kansas did much better than most other "dinosaurs" did in the early 80's. Remember, this was the time of Yes' 90125, Queen's Hot Space and Genesis' Abacab - these great band's respective low points.

The rest of the songs are Paradox, Sparks Of The Tempest, Mysteries And Mayhem, Hold On, Portrait (He Knew), Down The Road and the eternal Carry On Wayward Son and Dust In The Wind. The latter two are hardly surprising, but some of the others are pleasant surprises. Sparks Of The Tempest is a personal favourite of mine that is not played live very often. Still, the heavy reliance on Vinyl Confessions and the absence of Steve Walsh makes 'The Best Of Kansas' a very inappropriate title.

I have this concert video on both VHS and DVD and the latter version has a different title: 'Live Confessions' and was released in 2009. Even though the title of the DVD is much more fitting, the actual product is very disappointing. It has been a while since I watched the VHS, but as far as I remember the audio and video quality was at least as good as it is on the DVD! When I ordered the DVD, I hoped that it would have a re-mastered and enhanced sound and picture, but this seems not to be the case. There are no extras either or anything that makes an update worthwhile if you already have the VHS version.

Also, it is evident that this is not a release that is sanctioned by the band. The cover art looks much better and was the primary reason I was fooled into thinking that this is an updated and enhanced product compared to the VHS. But one major sign of how little work that has gone into this release is the label on the front cover saying "Steve Walsh At It's Best!" (Yes, not his best, but it's best!). And as I have already said, Steve Walsh is nowhere to be found on this release so don't be fooled!

This is not a bad concert, but please do not let this be your introduction to Kansas! There are much better live releases by this band, like the classic Two For The Show album and the recent There's Know Place Like Home DVD.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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