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Kansas - Always Never The Same CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.37 | 140 ratings

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Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is a strange CD indeed. At first I thought it was Kansas playing live backed by an orchestra, but no, it is really a studio recording of them playing a few classics, a Beatles cover version and 3 new songs by Steve Walsh. It was an uncertain time for the band. Their previous CD of original material did not reached the success they hoped for. Now with Robbie Steinhardt back to the fold after 15 years, they decided to do this experiment. It would be another two years before they release another album (2000´s excellent Somewhere To Elsewhere, where the whole band was reunited for this project).

After repeated spins I found Always Never The Same a more interesting CD than good. The band missed the opportunity of using the orchestra for some stuff that maybe would benefit more from it than other tunes that eneded up in the final cut. Take Song For America for instance: this epic really works in this format. However, stuff like that were totally ignored (Journey To Mariabronn, Icarus, Lamplight Symphony, Closet Chronicles among several others). Instead they recorded three new songs that are good, but are not in the same league as their best and hardly need the orchestra as much. The recording of the Beatles Eleanor Rigby is another thing I don´t really understand. The arrangement was not bad, but with so many classics left in their own cathalog, why on earth they had the idea of taking room from the compact disc for such a risky enterprise?

Ok, some others tracks do work here: Nobody´s Home is one of them. This forgotten tune from Point Of Known Return did improve a lot with the use of the orchestra. However, songs like Hold on did not. Walsh´s voice was not at his prime, to say the least, so some more demanding perfomances should be avoided. Dust In The Wind is ok too and its arrangement would be repeated almost note by note on their live DVD Device - Voice - Drum (2002). A few of the new band arrangements are good too (Miracles Out Of Nowhere for exemple shows how the band was still in fine form).

Conclusion: a good, if not essential, experiment. For a band who produced so many great epics that surely would be good to hear with an orchestra, I´m disappointed with the choice of material. They could have done a lot better. Still the ones recorded here are too good to be discarted as weak or bad. So I guess a 3 star rating is fair enough.

Tarcisio Moura | 3/5 |


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