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Kansas - Kansas CD (album) cover

KANSAS

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 584 ratings

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kwhitegocubs
5 stars I hate handing out five-star reviews (especially since I have thus far only chosen Kansas to review) on any site or for any product. However, in the case of Kansas, I find that some of the high/higher rated albums than this one are inferior.

I only recently started exploring this album as a whole. I knew Journey from Mariabronn by heart, but otherwise I had sort of dismissed this album. Huge mistake. I am surprised by the relative obscurity of Apercu within the Kansas oeuvre. The violin crescendo (the guitar/bass counterpoint is reminiscent of a classical piece I am forgetting at the moment) in the middle of the song never fails to raise my head to the point that I am staring, enraptured, with eyes ready to explode. PLus, the interesting lyrics dealing with reincarnation fit the music exceedingly well - I get the chills at the moment Walsh sings at the dark and mo-O- dy skies. Death of Mother Nature Suite isn't much of a suite really, but it is an excellnt hard-prog song. Actually, at the time, very hard for prog. I'll admit that the and now she's gonna die, yeah yeah yeah part can be a little hard to stomach, but the actual sound that phrase generates (outside of its actual verbage) is wonderful.

Journey From Mariabronn is a bona fide Prog classic, and I can't find much flaw in it, except that I almost wish they had made some of the highest-pitched vocals and harmonies a bit lower. They can grate just a bit.

Now, what about Down the Road? Huh? That's not prog! So why is this a prog masterpiece!? Let's see you squirm! It's not really prog, yes, but let's be honest, it's an 11/8 blues jam. 11/8. They didn't take the easy way out and just make a simple blues song - they made some complex structured jams in an odd time signature. It's prog for country blues, and it has an extremely high level of musicianship, so even if its not truly art-rock it is still art.

Can I Tell You is necessary evil single-material- considering they were signed by ultra-pop connoisseur Don Kirschner. That being said, it's a wonderful condensation of the Kansas sound elements. Two-part harmonies, stuttering rhythms, loads of violin (and virtuousic violin at that!), though the lyrics are uncharacteristic. I like them because they seem to be a weirdly brave anti- pop-culture stand on patriotism and democracy.

Lonely Wind is just a wonderful ballad - with strangely Livgrenish lyrics from Walsh. It's got wonderful piano, builds instrumental crescendo, and then fades off perfectly. The oddball wind sound harmonies work surprisingly well, though I suspect they decreased the song's potential as a single.

So while only half of the album is prog, those three songs are near the top of Kansas's output - within the pure prog spectrum only The Pinnacle, Song For America, No One Together, and Lamplight Symphony equal or outdo them. Yes, I know I left off Incommudro and Magnum Opus, I just think they are a tiny bit below the others mentioned.

kwhitegocubs | 5/5 |

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