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Kansas - Kansas CD (album) cover

KANSAS

Kansas

 

Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 591 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Another goodie from the Mid-western Prairies States of North America (I'm re-writing this review after the Pavlov's Dog debut review). Out of the ashes of Proto-Kaw (the bison or buffalo) came this sextet from one of the most rural state, to the point that they chose to name their combo after it. I always wondered how six youngsters managed to listen, compose and run such a band in the middle of this cultural (corn and country music are agriculture) desert that are the Prairie States. I mean these guys were probably ridiculed in high school for their musical tastes and long hair, yet they still managed not only to create a band (this means finding enough of themselves in that Corny State ;o))), keeping at it long enough torecord album and actually make it big. And if you don't believe me, look at the back cover (behind that outrageous Civil War painting) and check to see how only the length of their hairs stopped them to be loathsome country-loving rednecks.

Right from the opening track, Kansas belts out a classic track of theirs, probably the archetype of Kansas track (which is a tad weird since it is neither Walsh or Livgren, but the heart of the band: Hope, Ehart & Williams), with a sense of urgency and a a love of UK-like prog: Can I tell You sounds like a cross between Yes, Deep Purple and Caravan (circa For Girls). Kansas knew how to adapt covers and JJ Cale's Bringing It Back is nowhere near the original, and that's rather good, since it keeps the same urgency, even in the slower moments. Both these tracks are violin-dominated, and if Lonely Wind starts out on a violin, it turns out to be a piano ballad, courtesy of Walsh, but it's not one of his better compositions. The following Livgren-penned Belexes is the prototype of what to expect on Leftoverture and everyone gets a chance to shine, especially on the dramatic end. To close the A-side, the group's first mini-epic track, Journey Of Mariabronn is a solid collab between Livgren and Walsh, starting like a Yes track with a violin and plenty of tempo change and instrumental interplay

Opening the flipside is Pilgrimage, plagued by Steinhardt's almost-country-like fiddle The next two tracks are what makes the difference in the album. Indeed the almost-10mins Aperçu (that's "Insight" for the French ;-))) is a pure joy for those liking heroics in their music, without verging on the embarrassing clichés. Plenty of instrumental interplay with not too much singing and constant tempo changes. The closing Death Of Mother Nature Suite is not aptly named since it is not a suite (per se), but it's got everything its preceding track has.

Well, the group's debut album remains my fave, despite not being their better effort in terms of progfessionalism (no typo ;o))), but this is the group at its rawest and most urgent, and if you want to catch the essence of the ghroup, there is no place better than on this debut.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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