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Kansas - Leftoverture CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 1078 ratings

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5 stars Dave Hope's melodic bass lines are a consistent highlight of Kansas' greatest--and most signature--album. A major contributor mentioned that Hope is underrated as a bassist, but I would add that his bass is somewhat equally underrated as an element in Kansas. Much more is said about Steve Walsh's singular vocal tone, or the vocal harmonies, Robbie Steinhardt's lovely--or lively--violin, or even the multi-instrumental wunderkind Livgren, who practically wrote this album by himself (at least the first drafts, as Walsh was in a slump at the time).

But as much as I love the violin or any of the other stuff, I remember the rock-bottom bass solo in Father Padilla, the de facto lead instrument in Howling at the Moon--or any of the other bright and atmospheric bass tones that color the various following segments of Magnum Opus. I also remember that when they're layering the instruments in one by one in the interlude for Miracles out of Nowhere, Hope's bass, when it comes in, just kicks it into gear. And in all the other songs with a bass line capable of carrying the rhythm, but dying to sing. Like on What's on my Mind, where the bass dutifully keeps the beat, but can't help filling in the corners every chance it gets.

I mean that I can literally spend an entire Kansas album listening for this guy's bass line--and I'm a guitarist!

Well, I guess I might say something not about the bass. Carry on Wayward Son will always be a favorite from this album. It's the song that got me into them and from there into prog--mainly via a creeping appreciation for the strangeness of Magnum Opus. But that's the song that started it all. A tasty solo starts off The Wall. It holds up well despite being Livgren's typically searching lyric What's on my Mind is a nice rocker and a fun song. Miracles out of Nowhere is one of the better Kansas songs--and the round during the bridge is one of the reasons. Opus Insert is a pleasant, spritely tune that shows off some proggy goodness. Questions of My Childhood is probably the weakest song on the disk, except some nice punchy lines from a certain instrument mentioned above.

Cheyenne Anthem has to be the next major highlight of this album. It's quite a lovely multi-part suite. Good vocals by both Walsh and Steinhardt--balanced, just like I used to prefer it. I've already said a bit about the last song, perhaps the best song Kansas ever recorded, Magnum Opus. The only thing I have to add is that Livgren's (?) solo during the Gnat Attack segment is still one of the more awesome things on this album.

The only thing left to mention is the savage beast behind it all (in more ways than one), beating the daylights out of his drum kit. Ehart is no Bruford, but he keeps a solid beat including the odd ones, he's lightning fast, he can change up a beat, and has a nice touch.

axeman | 5/5 |


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