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Kerry Livgren - Seeds Of Change CD (album) cover


Kerry Livgren


Crossover Prog

3.52 | 35 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Kerry on wayward son!

Seeds Of Change was the debut solo album by Kansas-mastermind, Kerry Livgren. I finally own this album now as part of a 2CD collection called Decade. The decade in question being the 80's and the collection brings together tracks from all the non-Kansas albums Kerry did in that dreaded (by Prog fans) decade. As always, I prefer to rate the individual albums as they were originally released and to avoid "double-rating" I will not rate the compilation also. But Decade is still the recommended way (and perhaps the only way on CD?) to get hold of Seeds Of Change.

The title of the album presumably refers to Kerry's conversion to the Christian religion, a message which is also heavily expressed in the lyrics. The Decade collection comes with a 30 page booklet in which Kerry claims that god wanted this album to be made! He also tells the story of his religious conversion, the recording of Seeds Of Change, the formation of A.D. (a band led by Kerry in the 80's and whose first album Time Line is also featured in its entirety in the compilation) and him eventually leaving Kansas. But when Seeds Of Change was released Kerry was still a member of the band and this was released the same year as Kansas' Audio-Visions. Some of the music here is not very far away from late 70's/early 80's Kansas.

Seeds Of Change features several different singers including one of my favourite vocalists of all time in Ronnie James Dio on two songs. Some Kansas members are also present with Steve Walsh doing lead vocals on one song and Phil Ehart and Robbie Steinhardt both appearing on Ground Zero (this was many years before 9/11). Another famous musician present is Barriemore Barlow from Jethro Tull contributing drums on several tracks. Having so many people involved does almost always create a problem with inconsistency. The songs may be tied together by the lyrics in some sense, but musically the album is all over the place. If I didn't know that the first seven songs on disc one of the Decade compilation constituted this album, I could just as well have thought that these songs were taken from different sources.

The quality of the songs also fluctuates a bit with some excellent moments and some rather forgettable moments. The best of the bunch is without doubt the seven and a half minute The Mask Of The Great Deceiver. This is one of the two songs with Dio on lead vocals and he does a fantastic job here! Kerry tells us in the booklet that he had known Dio's voice already from Elf which was Dio's pre-Rainbow band, but that he didn't know Ronnie James personally before. Kerry handpicked Dio for these songs and he was pleased that he agreed to sing on the album. With this music being, at least partly, aimed at a Christian audience, Kerry felt the need to stress in the booklet that "even though [Ronnie James Dio] had begun to sing for Black Sabbath, Ronnie is no Satanist." I just had to laugh!

The other song with Dio on vocals is To Live For The King, a slower and less progressive song, slightly similar to Rainbow's Catch The Rainbow. The vocals are simply mesmerizing! How Could You Live has Walsh on vocals and this song is a bit similar in style to the Audio-Visions material; hardly a great song, but not terrible. Whiskey Seed stands out as being a Country/Blues song with some of the vocals being by Kerry himself!

In terms of Prog, there are only really two songs worthy of special mention and these are The Mask Of The Great Deceiver and the closer Ground Zero. If you are a major fan of Kansas and Kerry's solo career and/or Ronnie James Dio, you should not miss out on this rare album as it has some very good moments on it. It is, however, uneven and lacks a general direction.

The Decade compilation is a good place to get hold of this album. But that compilation is unfortunately itself very rare.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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