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Kansas Song for America album cover
4.15 | 831 ratings | 70 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Down the Road (3:43)
2. Song for America (9:59)
3. Lamplight Symphony (8:11)
4. Lonely Street (5:43)
5. The Devil Game (5:03)
6. Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman (12:12)

Total Time 44:51

Bonus tracks on 2004 Epic/Legacy remaster :
7. Song for America (single edit) (3:01)
8. Down the Road (live *) (3:49)

* Recorded 1975 at the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland Ohio, previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Walsh / lead vocals (excl. 1), piano & scat vocals (1), organ, ARP synth (2,3,5,6), Moog (6)
- Rich Williams / acoustic (2,3,6), lead & rhythm electric guitars
- Kerry Livgren / lead & rhythm guitars (1,4-6) piano (2,3), Moog (2,3,5,6), ARP Strings (2,3,6) & synth (6)
- Robby Steinhardt / violin, lead (1) & backing vocals
- Dave Hope / bass
- Phil Ehart / drums, glockenspiel (2), Moog drum & gong (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Lloyd with Ed Lee (art direction)

LP Kirshner - PZ 33385 (1975, US)

CD Sony Records - SRCS 6294 (1993, Japan)
CD Epic ‎- 517142 2 (2004, Europe) Remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio with 2 bonus tracks
CD Legacy - 517142 2 (2004, US) Remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio with 2 bonus tracks

Numerous reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KANSAS Song for America ratings distribution

(831 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KANSAS Song for America reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Second album and the first appearance of their usual logo on a striking eagle, ready to pounce on unsuspecting listeners. Behind that memorable artwork(maybe influencing Rush's Fly By night), the group returns unchanged with a more determined symphonic approach, compared to their debut album.

SFA is a worthy successor to their first opus, but it strikes that the band is keeping space for shorter tracks, in case they can strike for a hit single, which SFA doesn't have any. But it has three longer or four epics (or mini-epics) including the title track, the 8-mins+ Lamplight symphony (corny title, but we are in the prairies) and the 12-mins Incommudro/Altman thing, which happens to be among my fave things from the band. All three of these tracks hold many Yes-like moments, but the pupils manage to not sound like their main influence, or at least not appear derivative. Plenty of instrumental passages over a generally high-energy rhythm section, the group seems more confident on the louder passages, but it is on the quieter ones that they truly convince.

The three shorter tracks are of a lesser interest, with only Lonely Streets garnering a bit of airplay ? I guess, because it was the only track I knew when I first laid my ears onto the vinyl in 76. Both Down The Road and the Devil Game sound a bit of fillers to me, but Ibet mosts fans would clearly disagree. Plenty of goodies available on this second more symphonic effort, but personally I prefer the debut's freshness.

Review by lor68
3 stars Well it's a mix between a typical hard rock stuff in the vein of DEEP PURPLE and the progressive effort regarding of the European Progressive school. The fantastic mini-suite "Song for America", the title track, is alone well worth checking out, but also "Lamplight Symphony", the second progressive effort filtered through the hard rock style, is not bad!!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album represents very well the fact that KANSAS is a progressive band. The songs are really elaborated here, and some songs are quite long, near 10 minutes. There is a good balance between electric violin and electric guitar. The bass is absolutely delightful. Drums and lead vocals, which are always full of life and never depressing, do a great job. The keyboards are just excellent, and there are some mellow moments and hard rock ones.
Review by Proghead
5 stars KANSAS was a band often not the most respected by rock critics, rock fans, and prog rock fans. Some accuse them of pandering to the AOR of the time (judging them only from their FM hits). Others thought they were simply rednecks pretending to be prog rockers. Others didn't like them because they stood for all that's wrong with prog rock, and the list goes on. But despite their overplayed hits, they had a lot to offer. The band played in the Midwest in redneck bars and clubs whose patrons were obviously not appreciative of the music they were playing. Not to mention a lot of this area of the country tended to be conservative (politically and socially) so there was a lot going against this band (specifically the generally non-appreciative audience they played to in their early days). But the band was signed to Don Kirshner's label, Kirshner (Don Kirschner was the guy responsible for such "manufactured" and "make believe" groups as The ARCHIES and The MONKEES, so KANSAS was different in the manner they were a real band and were to be taken seriously) and got to business first by releasing their debut in 1974, and following it with this, "Song For America".

The music is truely a fascinating blend of prog rock and bar band rock. The album starts off with a rather straightforward rocker, "Down the Road", which has more in common with Southern Rock, but then the band gets in to prog rock epic proportions like on the title track and "Hymn to the Atman". The music tends to be quite lengthy and extended full of great violin, guitar, and Mini Moog solos. I also like the use of string synths they added on some of the pieces. I also like the hard rocking "The Devil Game", another one of the more redneck-y "bar band" type pieces, but it works really well. For the longest time I avoided Kansas, thinking they were another AOR act like BOSTON, JOURNEY, STYX, FOREIGNER, etc., not to mention "Carry On Wayward Son" being overplayed on the radio (which I always thought was filled with AOR clichés, I'm glad now that I don't judge this band by their hits - and you shouldn't either).

Certainly "Leftoverture" and "Point of Know Return" might be their best known and best selling albums, but they had three albums prior worth checking in to, and this is the pre- "Leftoverture" album you should try first.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As someone else before me already stated, 'Song for America' is Kansas' first great album: in fact, it is one of the definite milestones of American prog during its maturing phase. I once read that Kansas put the emphasis in rock in the label "prog rock", and that is pretty clear. This sextet sure can play complex melodies, harmonic counterpoints, and unusual time signatures, and yet, always find a space to show off their American self (tight sounding rock, energetic blues, high-spirited country-rock) and make it an integral of their own prog style. This is the reason why I find the opening track 'Down the Road' and the 11/8 tempo based blues 'Lonely Street' complementary to the rest of the material, which is undoubtfully more ambicious in terms of writing and more demanding in terms of performing and interacting (that is not to say that the aforementioned numbers are simplistic - pay attention to the fiery organ and violin parts in track 1, or the awesome guitar duets and dialogues in track 4, and you'll hear by yourself). But it's obvious that the other tracks are the most explicitely articulated under the usual symph prog standards. The title track has a very well deserved status of classic in the band's repertoire: the rich keyboards textures and chords, the way that the violin interact with the synths and the synths with each other, and the fluid integration of the different melodic lines that flow one after the other and finally come back... well, it's all superb. Less spectacular but far more dramatic, is 'Lamplight Symphony', a deeply emotional ghost love story where Steinhardt's violin rivals with the leads and harmonies on various synths in the struggle to steal the limelight: a special mention goes to the beautiful interlude of piano and violin, which gives us a momentary rest before the drama returns and eventually culminates with grim grandeur. 'The Devil Game' is rooted in Texan-oriented rock, but its branches are expanded and reconstructed in an explosive prog manner. Yet, no explosion in this record is bigger than in the 12-minute long closing title: 'Incomudro' is an ambicious suite that keeps an intense, introspective melancholy in the Buddhist lyrics, that ultimately winds up like a fire of mystical inspiration in a Beethoven-like vein (until a "literal" explosion occurs, in the shape of a synth effect) - other highlights of this track include the Arabic rondo interlude, and the elephantine drum solo that follows, which I interpret as a replica to the sonic architecture that preceeded it. An awesome closing to an awesome album: although it doesn't totally equal the perfection of the band's '76 and '77 masterpieces, it sure is an excellent world class master opus on its own.
Review by richardh
4 stars The standards set on the first album are continued although not really surpassed.The title track is the strongest with some thoughtfull lyrics about the Pilgrim Fathers and the early colonisation of the New World.There's also the excellent 'Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman' that shows Kansas at their most proggy.The last Kansas prog album before they drifted to the safeness of American FM radio.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Through this album I knew Kansas for the first time and I think it was sometime in 1976. It was a bit late (2nd album already) when I first purchased the cassette version of this album. Yeah, I was teenager at that time and cassettes were the only collection that I had for many rock groups music. No one had ever introduced me to the band until I found it at a small store in my hometown, Duta Irama (ugh . I even still remember the store name. Yeah man, rock music has always inspired me all the time. It's tough for me to forget any event related to rock music). It's still clear in my mind on the source of money I got to buy this album It was a gift from my mom that had successfully rent room space in our home to a group of accountants. Memorable! One song that really blew me at first listening was "INCOMUDRO". It's a beautiful song with great melody. Only until in 8 November 1996 when I could afford to buy the CD of this album.

The album has an excellent composition, strong songwriting and great performance by the band. Kansas music had always been coloured by the blend of classic rock as well as prog elements. Voice quality of Steve Walsh is excellent - he sings clearly even in relatively high tone. Kerry Livgren's and Rich William's guitar works are top-notch combined with a stunning violin work by Robbie Steinhardt. I think KANSAS is the band of its own category as I hardly identify what style of music they are alike to previous bands.

DOWN THE ROAD is a very energetic rock track with great violin touch; it serves a wonderful role as an opening track. The music is a blend of classic rock with some influence of country. The violin solo followed by double lead guitar work in the middle of the track is really terrific! So energetic this track is so I usually put this track "on" when I drive down the road!

It then continues to a longer track "SONG FOR AMERICA" in slower tempo than the predecessor. The opening violin and keyboard sound is nice, followed by synthesizer to welcome the voice line. In the intro part, there are some tempo changes with smooth transition, embraced by the soft sound of violin. Yeah . violin is the key to Kansas sound! And . I love violin in rock (and metal)!!! (No wonder that I enjoy King Crimson with David Cross, David Cross solo, Eddie Jobson, Jean Luc Ponty and also Rhapsody, Kamelot). Well, this track has a powerful melody with a wide variety of instrumentations: keys, guitar, violin, synthesizer, piano (during musical break - great!) and dazzling bass guitar, dynamic drumming! Top notch!

"LAMPLIGHT SYMPHONY" opens with a very very touchy melody (that makes me cry, really!) using keys and followed brilliantly by a touch of violin. Uughh . great opening! When the vocal starts to take up in the music, yeah man . the melody is really killing me! This is a mellow track performed in ballad style with some tempo changes (so, it's prog to the bone man!). The interlude part that starts at minute 3:50 is really amazing. It demonstrates how a combination of synthesizer and violin can really kill you! I mean it man .get your CD and spin it now! You'll then understand what I mean is really a real thing. The piano work that accompanies violin is also killing! (Note: This track would create ultimate satisfaction if you paly it loud in the evening with the light turns off. It's a killing composition, my friend!).

The music turns to a faster tempo with the 4th track "LONELY STREET". It's a nice classic rock music with double lead guitar play dominant roles. Observe how the double guitars (performed by Kery Livgren and Rich Williams) fill the bars and how the "quality" voice of Steve Walsh takes the lead. It then flows to the 5th track with "THE DEVIL GAME" (this time more instruments are used and the music is in faster tempo compared to previous track).

The concluding track "INCOMUDRO - HYMN TO THE ATMAN" is another killer. I don't know exactly which part of this track that is called as "Hymn to The Atman". Never mind, just enjoy the music. It starts with a symphonic rock music heavily dominated with keyboard sound and accentuated nicely with violin before the vocal is entering the scene. Man . this voice line has a powerful and touchy melody! The music flows nicely with some tempo changes with smooth transitions. The keyboard plays its role to create symphonic nuances throughout the track. The musical break with piano and keyboard sound is terrific! Dynamic yet melodic music! Starting at minute 4:05 the music flows into an interlude part with great violin transitions. The interlude itself explores the synthesizer sounds backed-up with great bass guitar and drumming. There is a short solo drum in the middle of the track. The music than returns to the original tagline melody. Wonderfully composed track! Try it now! You will definitely share the same feeling with me. I am sure! (Observe on how violin sound during transitions can kill you, melody-wise - especially if you listen to it with a great details of keyboard sounds at the back of violin. WOW!)

Tight composition, excellent songwriting, flawless performance backed up with great musicianship. Excellent production. Therefore it's a 5/5 rating. A masterpiece! GW, Indonesia.

Review by loserboy
4 stars Okay so I grew up listening to lots of KANSAS and as a result have a strong magnetism to their music. I think though that "Song For America" is pretty much the most progressive rock'ie album they released as an end to end comparison. This album was really the defining moment for the classic KANSAS sound and everything clicked on this recording. This album showcases KANSAS' knack for combinations of pop rock and progressive genres into a cohesive and original music. This album has the right mix of e-bow, guitars, bass and drum interplay. The keyboards are nice and big sounding with some fantastic Arp, Organ and Moog sequences. I think also on this recording they got their vocals and lyrics lined up and executed with strong and imaginative collective harmony. Also have always loved Dave Hope's bass playing on this album which stands out (even though I am sure the pundits will call this noodling).
Review by arcer
4 stars After the identity-seeking debut album, Kansas gather for their second outing having truly found their sound. Gone are the faintly trite pop/rock songs, the almost folksy structures of some of the material on their first record and in its place is an almost fully developed signature sound. But before that happens, there's a small hangover in opening track Down the Road which is something of a throwaway but even as it faded, Livgren is drawing the big guns and with the bass and drums-led intro to 'Song for America' Kansas open fire in majestic style. A fluid, organic, epic of a song, the huge two minutes intro gives way via an intrirate little synth riff to a gorgeous melody. The band set up the song's mid-section with a craft synth solo before the arpeggiated solo piano kicks off a wonderful sequence of synth and violing solos before resolving back to the body of the song. A stone-cold classic that set the template for things to come. Tow other signature epics - Lamplight Symphony and Incomudro (an early Livgren song reworked in Kansas style) almost hit similar peaks and with the guitars-to-the-fore hard rock histrionics of Devil Game, Kansas serve up their first true classic. Clever, enldessly melodic, instrumentally adept, and with sterling production values it's an unmissable landmark in American prog rock.
Review by Muzikman
5 stars I remember watching Don Kirshner's Rock Concert in the early 70's and seeing a band called KANSAS playing a song I loved; it was "Can I Tell You." I recall that night as if it was yesterday. They were different, unlike anything I had ever heard before, although I did not truly discover the power of Kansas until their fourth album Leftoverture. What a mistake it was for me to wait and pass on KANSAS and ''Song For America''. Thanks to the incredibly successful remasters market I get second chances all the time, and this is one of those sweet returns to the past.

KANSAS was playing bars in their home state looking for a break before Don Kirschner gave them a shot at stardom. The famous music man that made the MONKEES a household name could see the potential in their marketability beyond the borders of one state, particularly with lead off track on their soon to be debut album "Can I Tell You." He was right. Although their entrance into the music buying public's consciousness happened over a few years, the ultimate commercial success came with the smash "Carry On My Wayward Son" from ''Leftoverture'', yet these two albums served as the cornerstones of a long and successful career. While "Can I Tell You" was full of violin and driving keyboards unfound on the top 40 charts, it was a viable radio ready tune set for cross over success; however, that was the only song on the album with that potential. Two songs that clocked in over seven minutes, "Journey From Mariabronn" and "Death Of Mother Nature Suite," which are now considered prog-rock classics and a part of the KANSAS signature sound, would clearly define them as progressive rockers.

KANSAS sounds as vital and fresh today with these newly remastered discs as they did 30 years ago, and not just because of the great sound, because they were original and there was no other band recording music like them. There is a luster and clarity that is hard to ignore with these time tested recordings. Notably, the voice of Steve Walsh is absolutely soaring. KANSAS was an excellent debut, although I think ''Song For America'' served as their calling card, whether it was recognized as such or not at the time-it is indeed a landmark release for the band that would set the table for further triumphs. They were a step ahead of the rest with the artwork presented on their album covers as well. How could you not notice the eye-catching artwork on these two albums? Their music would follow suit and keep listeners' attention.

What was being explored on the first album would reach its fruition on the second release with marathon runs like "Song for America" (10:01) and "Incomudro-Hymn To The Atman" (12:13). For some listeners with more mainstream tastes, the intricate song structures and odd time signatures were too complicated and excessive, thus the move towards a more commercial sound for the imminent across the board breakthrough success they would soon enjoy was unavoidable. They managed to keep their values and musical foundation intact regardless of the changes that they would go through, and I really admire them for that. I find these albums to be the archetypal progressive rock music with brilliantly executed musicianship. The tremendous vitality and the risqué attitude of this band made them what they were, and that is the very reason they continue to gain more attention with the passing of time.

There are the bonus tracks, one on ''Kansas'' and two on ''Song For America. They are nothing unusual; in fact, the edited version of "Song For America" is noticeably out of sync in a few spots. That one song is the only flaw I could hear, all the rest is pure prog-rock magic. With this remastered and repackaging treatment of their catalog, new fans will discover them and the old guard will be delighted. I am certainly excited and pleased with the results that Sony/Legacy and the band have produced on these titles and I look forward to more (there will be).

Rating: 4.75/5

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been said that Kansas was a formulaic band that mixed a boogie-woogie sensibility with rapid-fire violin playing and touches of Yes and Genesis influenced synths. Sometimes on songs like Down The Road, it's hard to argue that Kansas were just recycling their own sound.

At other times like Song For America, Kansas are just a law unto themselves. What a stunning masterpiece of a song! It's one of my favourite ever Kansas tracks and this is a band with lots of goodies. It's got everything, wonderful lyrics and singing from both Walsh and Steinhardt, an atmospheric organ and piano driven intro, offbeat rhythms, synth leads, numerous dynamic changes and the songwriting has evolved even beyond the first album's already admirable standards. Whenever I listen to this song it's clear to me that Kerry Livgren was one of prog-rock's great unappreciated songwriters.

Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman is the other great epic of the album. From it's majestic string-laden opening,low-key vocal section and fluttering synth leads that sound like a flute there's more than one King Crimson influence at work, but then the organ and violin come in, and a lengthy, interesting (but not always enjoyable) synth solo takes the song loads of places including the Spanish territory that was explored on the first album. Near the end of the piece there's even time for a brief Phil Ehart drum solo, but I must say I feel it runs out of steam a little towards the end of its 12-minute running time.

Lamplight Symphony is another highlight, although I don't think it's as good as the two prog epics. It's got a dramatic synth opening, and is largely a moving ballad with rippling piano lines, darker moments with heavy guitar and an eerie synth solo another one with thoughtful shifts in mood. Then there's Lonely Street, a heavy, occasionally plodding blues tune with hardly any progressive moments, but still some nice stretches for the underrated Rich Williams to shine. The Devil Game is a nice mix of shorter complex hard rock that foreshadows Carry On My Wayward Son, but I must admit I don't enjoy it quite as much. In fact, I actually marginally prefer Kansas' eponymous debut to this one, but the presence of Song For America tends to even things out. ... 74% on the MPV scale

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Song for America was Kansas first album that gave them a little more control in the studio. The first album found the recording process to be controlled by Kirshner producer Wally Gold. They had to play through small fender amps not using their own instruments and the result was a sound that Kerry Livgren said "I would like to record that whole album over again". Song For America changed that and you hear it right away in the song "Down the Road". The guitars now have some meat to them along with a great violin line and in your face hard rock. No, not prog yet but a good way to get your blood pumping. Then comes the symphonic masterpiece of the title song. A Fat bass line starts it off then into the synth/violin laden intro. Great piano tracks, great organ lines, fantastic singing and goods lyrics mark this American answer to British symphonic prog. If you listen to one Kansas song listen to Song For America.

The rest of the 4 numbers are a straight blues song called Lonely Street , a hard rockin prog song written by vocalist./keyboardist Steve Walsh called the Devil Game. I have always liked this song but some of it seems disjointed. It feels that the middle part should be the into. Whatever the problems this is still a great song. The last two numbers are from the sheer prog genius Kerry Livgren, Lamplight Symphony and Incomudru: Hymn to the Atman. Hard to describe with words what these two songs are about. They are two of the best songs Kansas has ever recorded and you can now hear Incomudru in its original form by picking Up Proto-Kaw's Early Recordings From Kansas.

Song for America is a great progressive recording by any standard applied. The recommend you get the re-mastered version of all Kansas CDs. The sound is much improved and the bass actually registers. For all of you who think Kansas is not prog you need to hear this CD. 5 Stars.

Review by ClemofNazareth
5 stars The second album from Kansas made very little impression on the music scene when it was released in the spring of 1975, but years later it has been recognized as being both ahead of its time, and vastly underappreciated by most of the music public at the time. Each track adds a certain bit of character to the album, and after more than thirty years I still find myself playing this one quite regularly. It’s that good.

I think “Down the Road” is a misunderstood Kansas tune that too often gets a bad rap. I mean, here’s a band that only a little over a year before was unsigned, and were still playing beer joints and converted warehouses all across the Midwest. This is the same kind of music they were competing against for concert attention, and it’s not surprising they would throw this one in to soften up the listener before socking them with the bizarre and foreign-sounding onslaught that was about to follow. The same formula was more than likely employed in most of their concerts at the time as well, and was consistent with the opening “Can I Tell You” from their debut album and “It Takes a Woman’s Love (To Make a Man)” from the Masque album that would follow. And so what if the song is basically mid-tempo boogying with some southern fiddle and Allman Brothers-inspired twin guitar blues jamming? They do it with flair and the song establishes credibility for the band with the mainstream audiences they are trying to win over. A brilliant stroke of showmanship if you ask me, and executed with the kind of brash gusto not found all that often in the more staid traditional progressive community. I say ‘Bravo’!

Next up is arguably the finest single work the band ever put out – the spacious and inspiring “Song for America”. I’ve always felt that Kansas’ music manages to project that overwhelming sense of awe and connection with our land and our ancestors that one feels when driving across some of the vast stretches of the American landscape. This feeling is especially poignant across the great plains and up into the Missouri breaks, where one can drive for hours surrounded by nothing but open spaces and vast farmlands of waving wheat, corn, sunflowers, and prairie grasses, all punctuated like a shotgun blast-pattern with cattle and horses roaming unencumbered. This song captures that feeling flawlessly. And that’s exactly what Kerry Livgren was going for when he wrote it, while flying high above the landscape and viewing the vastness and grandeur below him.

Two things really stand out on this track, and both are largely what make this a uniquely American sound – Steve Walsh’s piano and Robby Steinhardt’s violin. Walsh’s keyboards here are not especially complex, but his matter-of-fact delivery is superb and fits the overall mood of the song perfectly. Steinhardt on violin sounds like some swamp fiddler who was drug out of the bayou, cleaned up, and given a few lessons on the classics. You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t…. Anyway, his delivery is technically impeccable, but more importantly it has soul in a way that chamber strings just cannot match.

So the lyrics have to be addressed as well, I suppose. Livgren paints a tale of an unspoiled virgin land that is assaulted and savaged by insensitive European settlers:

“Across the sea there came a multitude, sailing ships upon the wave; filled with visions of Utopia, and the freedom that they crave –

Ravage, plunder, see no wonder, rape and kill and tear asunder; chop the forest, plow it under.....”

Fair enough. This is of course a perfectly understandable viewpoint for a young kid from the heartland who is idealistic, searching, and sees some of the many obvious flaws in this thing we have created. But that sentiment was expressed over thirty years ago, and both the man and the nation have changed immeasurably since then. The reality of course is that the land was not a virgin paradise when it was first discovered, and the people he refers to weren’t even the ones who discovered it, but that story is well outside the scope of this album. Recently this same song was included on a fund-raiser album put together by the American music community to benefit those affected by Hurricane Katrina, so we would have to assume Livgren, like many of us, have come to see this epic as more of a tribute than of a condemnation.

“Lamplight Symphony” is quite beautiful with it’s off metering, harmonic vocals of Walsh and Steinhardt, and heavy bass from Dave Hope. Lyrically it is a typically self-indulgent sappy tale from Livgren about an old man dealing with the loss of his wife (and apparently dealing with a poltergeist as well). But considering the quality of the music and the nature of the times, he can be forgiven the indulgence in my mind. The keyboards are especially brilliant, and the bass/drum assault in the middle is a pre-taste of the closing track “Incomudro”.

Much has been made of the 11/8 timing and the heavy blues rhythm of “Lonely Street”, but even more significant for me is the fact that this was a highly-collaborative effort between Walsh, Hope, Rich Williams, and Phil Ehart. I would imagine Walsh provided the lyrics and the rest of them noodled their way through the rest, but the important thing here is that this was a band effort, not a solo contribution by Walsh or Livgren. More cooperation like this one might have held the band together longer – who knows? The song tells of revenge for a woman who was raped, and of the waste and despair on the part of the man who commits murder as a result. Of all the tracks here, this one has the most dated feel, and reminds me of too many southern boogie bands of that era to mention. None of them had the stage presence or the sense of fluid arrangement that this song demonstrates though.

“The Devil Game” is probably the weakest track here, but even at that there are some pockets of brilliance. Livgren shows his rocking side on guitar that would surface more fully in Point of Know Return and even Audio-Visions; Walsh’s voice just flat soars; and Hope is a madman on bass. As far as Walsh and Steinhardt collaborating on vocals, this and “Mysteries & Mayhem” from Masque are probably two of the finest examples of that pairing.

Finally is “Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman”, a twelve minute introspective journey through the soul. This is the ultimate ‘why are we here?’ song from Livgren, and one that many a young man reflected deeply on while surrounded in a fog of sweet, pungent smoke back in the 70s. This is “Dust in the Wind” on steroids:

“The man is not alive who knows the value of his soul, And when our lives are pulled away, there's more to fill the hole.”


“Everything you've seen is waiting patiently within For growing old is only going back to where you've been.”

Both Walsh and Livgren alternate between torrid ranting and whimsical noodling on keyboards throughout, and Steinhardt shows us what violin improvisation might sound like. There’s even a bit in the middle that sounds quite Hebrew-inspired involving both violin and keyboards. The slowly building crescendo toward the end predates a more refined but structurally similar sound bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor would make famous some twenty years later. And everyone gets in the act, including Ehart with a 1-1/2 minute drum solo to ease things toward a close. The explosion at the end has been said to represent a nuclear detonation, which is probably true. But more importantly it’s a solid ending to the song, which is a sign of maturity for a young band where simple but boring fade away endings are more commonly seen by other bands at this stage of their careers.

I have waited quite a while to write this review because I really have had trouble deciding if this is an essential album in the progressive library, or simply just a brilliant piece of art with some minor flaws. In the end I’ve decided that flaws are part of the appeal, as they give character and a sense of uniqueness to art. So five stars it is, and highly recommended to just about anyone who likes progressive music of just about any sub-genre.


Review by Australian
4 stars "Song for America" is arguably the first progressive rock album from Kansas, I however disagree with this statement as the band's debut, "Kansas" is just as progressive as this here album. "Song For America" also got Kansas well and truly rolling in both popularity (although still very moderate at this point) and also musical complexity and style. Songs like "Lamplight Symphony", "Song For America" and"Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman" are all testaments to the wonderful progressive nature of the band. Other songs such as "Down the Road" take a more conventional approach and are distinctly less complex and intellectually challenging, but are no less enjoyable.

The album is really carried along by guitar and keyboard extraordinaire Kerry Livegren who took part in the writing of a majority of the album. Steve Walsh is another great contributor on this album, not only in the writing but also in the keyboard and vocal department. "Song for America" was released in February of 1975 and it sold an initial 250,000 copies and charting at number 57 on the US billboard charts. The album went Gold (500,000 copies) five years later in 1980.

The album opens with the fast-paced "Down the Road" in which Rob Steinhardt takes the limelight with is aggressive yet effective violin. The song is focused around the drug trade in America and it talks of a drug dealer escaping from a man whom he is in debt to. The instrumental interlude to the song is very catchy and will hook you back for more.

The Title song, "Song for America" comes next and it shows how far the band had come from "Kansas." The song strangely enough is about America and its history, focusing specifically on the arrival of colonizers and the puritan's reaction. The rest of the song is quite confusing, but the instrumentation is great none the less. For this very reason, "Song for America" is a splendid track, trust me.

"Lamplight Symphony" is probably the most progressive song on the album because of the very symphonic set-out and the use of synthesizers and other such instruments. The song seems to be about a guy's disembodied wife who he sees in a vision as he stares at her grave. At the end of the song he works out that one day they'd be as one. The song features a positively amazing instrumental interlude with steady bass and violin solos among other things.

"Lonely Street" starts off with a very soft swing melody with vocals over the top before erupting into a sort of hard-rock song. There is a lot more guitar than usual in this song as it better suites the type of song the band was attempting to achieve with this track. The song takes a much more conventional approach than the other pieces and it may be intended to bring you to familiar ground, so to speak.

"The Devil Game" to me mixes the previous two songs together as it borrows a symphonic feel from "Lamplight Symphony" and a hard-rock one from "Lonely Street." The song is very up tempo and in parts focuses on the union of guitar and violin as the two instruments seem to compete with each other. This track prepares one for the next piece.

"Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman" is the last and longest piece on "Song for America" which focuses very heavily on symphonic prog as well as the display of the members' talents. In addition, the song also changes in time and mood many times and features extended instrumental section, one which reminds me of "Bohemian Rhapsody", oh well. At about minute 5 the music gets really interesting with a good old fashion analogue synthesizer solo. Very good song!!

1. Down the Road (4/5) 2. Song for America (4/5) 3. Lamplight Symphony (5/5) 4. Lonely Street (4/5) 5. The Devil Game (4/5) 6. Incomudro -- Hymn to the Atman (5/5) Total = 26 divided by 6 = 4.333 = 4 stars (very close to 5)

In summary, "Song For America" is one not to me miss, and if you manage to get your claws on the remaster version you'll get a very crappy single of "Song for America" and a great live version of "Down the Road", everybody wins! I'd recommend this album to all symphonic fans, and please don't ignore this band!

Review by Chicapah
4 stars This, the group's bold second album, reveals great strides in studio experience and maturity. Because of increased visibility and radio play this record sold a quarter of a million units and set them up for even more success with their future releases. Oh, and the excellent cover art didn't hurt, either.

The album starts with a very un-prog boogie, "Down the Road," that features violinist Robby Steinhardt getting down and dirty on vocals. Perhaps the powers-that-be (label head Don Kirshner, maybe?) suggested they kick things off with a more radio-friendly rocker before unleashing the synthesizers. In that sense it works well as an opener because every virtuoso gets a lead and it definitely rocks. Then comes the album's stunning high point, "Song for America." In my limited knowledge of Kansas' repertoire I consider it their best song ever. Written by their musical jack-of-all-trades Kerry Livgren, it is grandiose and majestic without ever becoming pompous. The performance is flawless and the arrangement couldn't be improved upon. The song describes the initial raw beauty of the land, then how the multitudes of settlers from all corners of the earth invaded and ravaged it over the years. Still, the lyric turns optimistic in the end with "So we rule this land/and here we stand upon our paradise/dreaming of a place/our weary race is ready to arise." This healing message came at a time when Americans were still recovering from the schisms caused by Vietnam and it endeared many to this group for that reason alone. Another Livgren tune, "Lamplight Symphony," starts promisingly but then bogs down in an arrangement that is over- convoluted. It also has a middle section that is too reliant on the Moog synthesizer and ARP strings, taking away from what otherwise is a fine melody. "Lonely Street" could also have been called "Blues in 11/8." It's an interesting variation on the southern slow shuffle and features a very strong vocal by Steve Walsh. It works well as a solid rocker. "The Devil Game" is more like the album's namesake and is another favorite of mine. This one is written by Walsh and bassist Dave Hope and benefits greatly from a very tight and powerful performance by the whole band. It's about the sinful temptations that the "horned one" presents and the singer asks, "Has he offered you happiness, money or much better lays?" One gets the feeling that he's singing from personal experience. "Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman" is the closer, a spiritually themed composition from Livgren. It also starts strong but, unfortunately, can't keep up the momentum. Walsh turns in a nice organ solo and the group excels at taking the song through some interesting tempo changes but then they overindulge in synthesizers again. The ARP was a popular and novel instrument in the mid 70s but its thin sound really hasn't aged well and it makes the whole sequence seem very dated. Phil Ehart's drum solo tells me that this tune was written or altered to be an impressive show-ender for their stage performances but it doesn't work well as a studio piece.

While my overall impression is that it's kinda hit and miss, the magnificent "Song For America" is well worth the price of the album alone. I heard Kansas perform it a few months after 9/11 and it received an enthusiastic standing ovation, proving it continues to have great power over thirty years on. I actually consider this effort to be a 3.5 but I have no problem giving it 4 stars because of that ten-minute opus alone.

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars This was my entry album to Kansas.

I purchased it at the time of release in Europe (1975). I must say that it was a significant shock for me. I really did not expect such masterpiece from an unknown US band (at the time).

I purchased it after having read a review in the sole Belgian magazine which provided six pages over rock music each week: concerts, interviews and new records reviews (thanks Piero). This section about rock music was integrated into a full TV-programme weekly magazine (Télémoustique). It still exists by the way, and I still buy it (at the time, my parents did so).

So, here we go.

"Down the Road" is a great opener. Rocky and furious it features great instrumental work. Violin, which makes this band so different of course, but keys as well are sublime. It is flirting with hard-rock most of the time. It sets the pace for this jewel of the mid- seventies.

The title track is just great. It has the same structure as "Journey from Mariabronn". Long (over three minutes) and complex instrumental intro (keys / violin), great middle section with lots of synthetizers. The whole band at his best. Ten wonderful minutes. My only remark is that I would have liked to have some guitar break in there. But let's not be too difficult. This is the first highlight.

"Lamplight Symphony" intro sounds a bit like ELP : pompous and bombastic. Vocals are very melodious and emotional. It is incredibly passionate and builds crescendo. After 3'45 or so, the intruments enter into a frenetic competition and virtually explode in this very powerful intrumental section. At 5'30", the tempo changes dramatically and the band delivers a one minute very subtle part that ELO could have written. An almost classical moment (or symphony?) is developped. Great combination. This highlight closes the first side of the vinyl album (but on this album, there are almost nothing else than highlights) !

B-side starts with "Lonely Street" which is 100 % hard-rock oriented. Good riff. This song is almost heavy at times. This could have been a Purple track. "The Devil Game" is a good rock song like "Down the Road" : great drumming and heavy keys (a la Hensley). Rythmic section and vocals are top notch.

With "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman" I believe that the band has reached its progressive peak. All the ingredients are present : strong melody, very nice vocals, light instrumental in the beginning (almost Trespass-esque or "Talk To The Wind" oriented), fantastic guitar work, crescendo building (which is a feature that I like very, very much) with an explosion of keys.

What else do we need ? Some violin ? We'll get it. You wanna a drum solo (1'30") ? Here you are. The grand finale is somptuous. One of their best song ever.

This is my favourite Kansas album : so many great songs, so original for the time. It is a perfect summary of their whole career : hard-rock numbers (three, but shorter) and three truely prog ones (longer compositions, about two-third of this album).

My rating is five stars : the masterpiece status. This album will peak at the 57th spot in the US charts. As far as I know, it will be almost ignored in Europe.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Second album by this well known band and one of their best. A 4 star album to me as a whole, but title track Song for America 5 stars and Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman 5 stars the rest are good, maybe the opening track is the most unenjoyble here. What to add, just a recommended album for everyone who loves good music. Is not a masterpiece but close enough, anyway 4 stars i think is propper for Song for America.
Review by Flucktrot
4 stars Kansas simultaneously improves and backpedals after their impressive debut. The proggy pieces have better lyrics and themes, but the actual music just doesn't have the same bit in places. The rock songs are enjoyable and well-written again, but some of the essential rawness has been sucked out of them. The result is another solid album that only realizes the full potential of Kansas in spots. Not to worry, they would improve on some of this later!

Down the Road, Lonely Street, The Devil Game. These are the rockers, and all are good. I like Down the Road the best (as opposed to many other reviewers), because they are quite good at hard driving rock, and Robby's voice matches the song perfectly. As much as I respect Walsh, he just sounds a little out of place on the other two rockers. The slow-paced, bluesy Lonely Street and time-signature-shifting Devil Game have interesting concepts and create effective imagery of Great Plains, small-town Americana, but they just seem a bit forced, for reasons that I can't quite describe.

Song for America. They hit a home run with this baby--one of my top 10 prog songs. This actually seems very Yes-like in its positive melody and progression, but it's still uniquely Kansas. I wouldn't change a thing about it: incredible melodies, gorgeous instrumentation, and powerful lyrics. I've traveled through much of the American west and midwest, and I have similar feelings about the costs of progress, both environmentally and spiritually.

Lamplight Symphony. Cool lyrics about life after losing a loved one, but the music isn't as effective. For some reason, we don't have any of the energetic interplay that I love so much about Kansas.

Incomudro. The closer falls between the other two epics in quality. We've got a decent melody, an enjoyable drum solo, a waltzy section, and a creative keyboard/synth section, which are all good but not excellent. Fortunately, Kansas keeps up its trend of ending the album with an uptempo explosion of rock, leaving me with a good taste for the album every time.

Worth the price for the title track, Song for America is solid all the way through and should be a part of serious symphonic prog collectors.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Kansas second studio album is very interesting and radical. The prog songs are maybe their most ´traditional´ (in a european way) of their entire career. The rockers on the other side are the hardest, heavier they ever recorded. This album proves they could easily hold both styles. It´d take them some time to balanced and mix both elements to make their very own and distinctive sound.

Anyway, all the songs are very good, even if they are all quite different from each other. Song For America, the title track, is the most celebrated and rightly so: it was a big sep into the right direction. But Lamplight Symphony and Incomumdro are also very well done and deserved better attention. Down The Road, The Devil Game and the bluesy Lonely Street are the rockers, and in that vein, quite good too. Highlights are the incredible, tight instrumental passages and the passionate vocals. Production is only average.

All in all an excellent early album by one of the most influential and important prog bands of North America. 4 solid stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Song for America is the first of Kansas albums that really impress me. Their first album was really good too, but this one is much better. I have to say that some of the songs on this album really bring me down though and I´ll explain why.

Song for America is basically divided between symphonic epic songs ( Song for America, Lamplight Symphony and Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman) and shorter more rock´n´roll songs (Down the Road, Lonely Street and The Devil Game). It´s the symphonic ones I like the best. Down the Road is a good song though. But both Lonely Street and especially The Devil Game with those cheesy lyrics are really bad songs. I mean they sing: " Satan leave me" ( lol), I just can´t take this seriously, it destroys the song for me.

Well with that aside I would like to praise Kansas for the three symphonic epics they created for this album as they are beautiful songs and well deserving the masterpiece stamp. I´ll have to take away one star though because of the really stupid and bad songs that also appear on this record. If you can live with these songs and the religious content don´t bother you it´s a masterpiece.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars How come this album isn't up there with Leftoverture and Point of Know Return when it comes to fame? For me it's close to impossible to separate the three when it comes to pure greatness.

The band gives us six songs, five of them are excellent and three of them are epics.

Down the Road is a perfect starter, chunky, with a stomping rythm worthy of any smoke-filled, gritty bar in Texas. This one's about drug dealing. But don't be frightened by this, it's still not a simple run-of-the-mill rock song. There's talent in the music and after a rolling bass comes a crazy violin that carries this song into a frenzy. My god what an energy! Robbie Steinhardt is magnificent.

and then all the sudden...

Song for America. Such a beautiful song. Such contrast compared to Down the Road. With atmospheric keys, poignant piano and mellow arrangements we're sweeping over the plains. Delightful indeed. And that Dave Hope knows how to handle a bass guitar. The warmth of the debut is there again, even with the ominous lyrics.

The wall of sound that follows is Lamplight Symphony. A perfect marriage of beauty and tragedy. I love listening to this song with really high volume. The soundscape always sends chills down my spine, especially when reaching the violin crescendos.

Lonely Street has nothing to do here, so I won't bother writing much about it. Skip it.

Now it turns into heavy/hard prog with the vibrant The Devil Game and you can feel that the band is having a lot of fun during this one.

Closing the album is Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman, the most experimental of the songs on the album. The arrangements are quite close to Lamplight Symphony but moves on to higher ground with, among other things, a drum solo and some spacey synth.

This is a masterpiece.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Continuing down the road to greatness

Kansas' second record Song For America builds on the foundation established by their self-titled debut released the previous year, but also goes beyond that and takes things further. The rather brief, folky opener Down The Road is in a similar style that the band explored on the debut but just better - and the sound is better.

The title track is an absolute Kansas classic and remains to this day a permanent part of the band's live performances. Also Lamplight Symphony and Incomudro - Hymn To Atman are progressive Rock epics while Lonely Street and The Devil Game are on the heavier side in the vein of bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin.

Song For America is a classic Kansas album and an essential edition to any progressive Rock collection. I would put this album just below the masterpieces Point Of Know Return and Leftoverture as the top three Kansas studio albums.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The second album from Kansas marks the maturation of Kerry Livgren's compositional abilities, as well as the band's capacity for playing more extravagant pieces. Their debut album gave us three extended and splendid songs; Song for America treats us to three more.

"Down the Road" Opening the album is a gritty, foot-stomping song interspersed with Robby Steinhardt's vocals and organ, violin, and guitar soloing. This song sounds like it belongs in a dingy, smoke-filled bar. It's largely a tightly knit jam session, but it clearly demonstrates the musical prowess of the boys from Topeka.

"Song for America" Undoubtedly the highlight of the album, "Song for America" grants us a magnificent three minute instrumental introduction before launching into the first verse. From the initial guitar riff to the chords of the first verse, there is nothing less than musical grandeur. The words go far beyond typical environmental awareness, giving first a picturesque panorama of America as it must have been before the fifteenth century. The lyrical interlude describes what took place on this "virgin land of forest green" soon after, and the lyrics in the end describe the growing plight of suffocating crowds and soulless commercialism, with a mysterious mention of the fallen and all but forgotten Native American tribes who are prepared to make their second advent. And as for the reoccurrence of the violin theme at the end- there is simply no better way to bring this one to a close. This is a symphonic rock lover's dream; "Song for America" is chock full of key and time signature changes (including 9/16 and 11/16) tastefully woven together. Kansas may have never produced a twenty minute masterpiece like Yes or Genesis, but this, along with a few efforts to come, is as epic as it gets for this group. This album should have begun with this phenomenal piece; it is one of Livgren's tightest compositions.

"Lamplight Symphony" A ghost story about a widower seeing the specter of his long lost bride, "Lamplight Symphony" evokes a strange mixture of despair and hope, even by the end. The lyrics have something of the effect of "Turn of the Century" by Yes, albeit not nearly as potent. The music is heavily driven by piano runs, warbling organ, and chunky bass riffs (after a memorable synthesizer theme that serves as an introduction). Following two verses there is a lyrical bridge, and when Steinhardt sings his four lines, it is enough to induce shivers down one's backbone. While the musical interlude that follows is certainly good, it admittedly doesn't seem to fit the mood of the piece- listening to the cacophonic drive makes one think the subject of the song is descending into madness rather than actually experiencing a supernatural event. However, the short segment that follows brings us back to sad beauty of the piece, full of elaborate piano runs and a melancholic violin over them. My only other criticism to this otherwise remarkable song is the abrupt ending. The final chord is stately enough, but the build up to it is far too brief, if not uninspired.

"Lonely Street" While by far the weakest track present, this is a very good attempt at a bass-driven blues number in an odd time signature. The guitar fills are decent enough, as are the solos, but it's Dave Hope's work here that stands out. The lyrics are grimy, about being down and out and taking revenge on those who've done wrong, but they are clearly out of place, especially on this album. Incidentally, I believe this is the only Kansas song containing the word "whore."

"The Devil Game" This is an adventurous five minute song with an interesting start; Electric guitar and violin interact in an original way. The writers juxtapose an upbeat tempo and colorful melodies with lyrics about resisting the devil. Just after two minutes in, there is a segment that is reminiscent of the introduction of "Journey from Mariabronn." Richard Williams and Kerry Livgren let the guitars rip on this one almost all the way through. Needless to say, this is by far the best of the shorts on this album. At the risk of displaying some bias, I initially believed Livgren penned this one; as it turns out, he had no direct hand in writing it. Bassist Dave Hope and keyboardist Steve Walsh collaborated on this one, and it makes one wonder what the latter's output might have been (considering that he was responsible for the short instrumental "The Spider") had the tenor possessed a desire to write symphonic rock music instead of his questionable attempts at pop.

"Incomudro- Hymn to the Atman" This sprawling and somewhat disjointed piece is an otherwise outstanding way to conclude Song for America. The structure of the introduction is similar to that of "Lamplight Symphony," with a synthesizer carrying yet another memorable melody. At times, however, this one sounds a bit less structured; after the rather naked sounding violin part, the verse comes in, and there are jazzy guitar licks tossed in here and there throughout. I can't say I enjoy the delay effect placed on Walsh's voice, but this may be due to me having first heard this on a live recording. The lyrics again reflect reincarnation, but do so in an even more mystical and poetic way than "Apercu" from the previous album. Every musician gets his opportunity to shine on this finisher, including Ehart. Dave Hope has his diminished bass runs, Steinhardt plays his violin, there's fitting guitar, and organ and keyboard solos galore. Four and a half minutes in, there is a synthesizer solo that is suggestive of Camel's "Lunar Sea." And then there's an ominous gong. This percussive interruption, which may make one think that Cthulhu has arrived to feed, is actually the harbinger of a different monster- that of Ehart and his thousand (drum) heads. He brings the song back around to set it up for a second verse (nine minutes in, no less). Ehart is also the creature responsible for building up the amazing ending, one with a screaming guitar solo and a rising chorus of instruments that culminate in a finale of a prolonged sound of thunder. This is when the listener may breathe.

Review by horsewithteeth11
5 stars This album, along with Leftoverture, holds a special place in my heart. In fact, if it hadn't been for those two albums (among a small handful of a couple others) I probably wouldn't still be listening to progressive rock to this day. Pretty much everything I could ask for in an album is here: strong emotions, power, multi-layered, and a prog ballad or two thrown in there. I often think that Kansas doesn't get enough respect on this site, because I consider them to be one of the founders of progressive rock. Part of the reason may be because they happened to come from America, and not Britain, but that's a discussion for another time. I love all of Kansas' first five albums to death, but this is clearly my favorite behind Leftoverture. Now onto the songs themselves.

1. Down the Road - This song is more of an AOR song than a full-blown prog song, like Carry on Wayward Son or Dust in the Wind. Although I might actually like this song more than either of the previous two. Still a solid track though and a good opener, although probably my least favorite song on the album. 8.5/10

2. Song for America - The title track, and proof that Kansas belongs up on the same tier as Genesis, Yes, etc. This song is a mini-suite of sorts, an absolutely fantastic intro which blew me away the first time I ever heard it. It even still does a little bit every time I listen to it. The bass/drum/violin that comes in around 2:35 gives me one of those "on top of the world feelings" right before some vocals come in. At about 4 minutes we get a section of bass and piano going back and forth with each other. This is one of those songs that must be heard to be believed. It WILL take your breath away. 10+/10

3. Lamplight Symphony - Starts with a drum roll before moving into a violin section with the drums providing filling in the background. Another violin solo comes in around 3:05. This song is chock-full of great violin and practically screams Kansas the entire way through. Possibly my favorite song on the album. 10+/10

4. Lonely Street - This song is very blues-y, from the lyrics to the sound. It feels like a good blues/rock ballad even though it only clocks in a little less than 6 minutes. The blues guitar solo comes in at about 3 minutes and is also a great mix of the heartland feel of Kansas. 10/10

5. The Devil Game - Opens with a wailing violin sound accompanied by somewhat funky guitar and drums. The guitar solo at 1:25 is very heavily rock-based and has a "screaming guitar" effect to it. A very high energy song and a great counterpoint to the previous song. 10/10

6. Incumudro: Hymn to the Atman - Starts with great piano and keyboards as well as heavy drums in the background before Hope comes in with a soft bass line. One of the most underrated bassists ever in my opinion. This is a song where he really gets a chance to shine as well. Neat keyboard solo comes in at 3:10, followed by a violin solo. At 4:35 the guitar starts to move us away from a somber feeling to a happier, upbeat feeling, with bass, keyboards, and drums carrying us through that. A drum solo comes in just before 7 minutes that is guaranteed to kick your ass. It's absolutely stellar and very tight yet well-controlled. This is probably my favorite song on the album along with Lamplight Symphony. It's impossible for me to pick one over the other. 10+/10

Overall, a great work by a highly underrated band on this website. I can't think of any type of prog fan who I couldn't recommend this to. If it isn't already in your collection, you need to rectify that as soon as possible, because you're missing out on a great symphonic masterpiece. This is one of those albums where I wish the scale went higher than 5 stars, because it deserves even more than that. Terrific album through and through and not a single dull moment. 5+/5 stars.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars SONG FOR AMERICA is the prog rock highlight of Kansas's career, even if about 1/3 of the running time is devoted to more simple rock tunes. Sure, ''Lonely Street'' is a little more than a bluesy rocker in 11/8 and ''Down the Road'' has some Lynyrd Skynyrd/Ten Years After vibe, but Kansas could pump more life into those songs than most other rock/blues/bar bands. The ''Devil Game'' is a particularly fiendish track with stellar guitar solos.

However, prog fans only care about the Kerry Livgren penned epics, all running at least eight minutes in length with two breaking double digits. The title track to the album is simply the archetype of the Kansas library with a memorable opening riff, stunning instrumental middle section and themes that are properly developed. ''Hymn to the Atman'' is more poignant and longer, but still has a pumping middle section (with a synth solo) and even has an interesting drum solo. The only problem is the echo on Steve Walsh's voice. And would you believe me if I said ''Lamplight Symphony'' is the weakest track overall?

Kansas had many things going right for them in the prog direction, but they also knew how to rock out and keep their albums level. For that, SONG FOR AMERCIA is a highly recommendable album in the prog realm that is as complex as it is entertaining.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Song for America" is an album that should be listened by those who claim KANSAS is an AOR group, they would surely change their minds if they really listen to the music with open mind, because the band offers us a great combination of styles, sounds, moods and atmospheres, blending with great skill Hard Rock, Blues based Rock, Country Music and of course pristine Symphonic Prog.

The album is open with "Down the Road" a typical Blues Based Rock track, unlike most KANSAS tracks the violin is used as a Rock instrument rather than as a Symphonic element, Robby's vocals are also weird for the band, he dares to be aggressive in a different way, taking elements of Blues, Southern Rock and Country, a lost gem that should be played more frequently by the band on their concerts.

"Song for America" must be one of the best structured songs of the band, any person can discover easily that they have a clear introduction, a first transitional instrumental break and the body of the song that goes though radical changes and dramatic passages, now we are before a pure Prog track and a musical piece that flows perfectly from start to end.

If we add the excellent vocals of Steve Walsh at his peak, the excellent vocal interplay with Steinhardt and the solid drumming of Phil Ehary in an extremely complex trackl for any percussionist, we are before a masterpiece that sounds even better when played years later in "Two for the Show"

"Lamplight Symphony" is everything I can expect from a Prog band, a pompous introduction, excellent vocals, dramatic keyboards and interesting instrumental breaks where the violin adds that nostalgic sound so characteristic in Kansas, just perfect from start to end.

"Lonely Street" has a soft Blues introduction by Steve and Dave Hope with the bass, and without leaving the Blues territory they add different elements that make the sound much more elaborate, with a Rich Williams proving he's not just a guy who plays the guitar, but a skilled musician....Again can't understand why "Lonely Street" has been forgotten. Special mention to Steve Walsh who does an outstanding vocal performance.

With "The Devil's Game" we return to Prog territory, the song presents dissonant elements that collision one with the other in a wonderful cacophony that makes sense, closer to Hard Prog than to Symphonic, another excellent song with Rich Williams doing a fantastic work.

The band selected "Incomundro - Hymn to Atman" to close the album, and what a great choice, after a pompous intro and a nostalgic violin, Steve Walsh jumps into the track transmitting all the possible feelings to the audience as a vocalist should do.

But suddenly,. the song starts to grow in intensity and the first climax reaches, with the organ making desperate cries and the violin as a relief, they move to a piano and keyboards passage of unusual beauty, the organ with a late psyche feeling supported by Robby and his violin create a sad depressing and mysterious section only broke by a quasi Baroque section, would be hard to describe the rest of the track (I'm in the fourth minute from twelve) because the changes are extremely complex and radical will only say that is honey for the lips of a Progressive Rock lover.

There's little more I can say, a fantastic album that marks the beginning of the maturity of KANSAS and an essential release for those of us who love the genre.

Five stars without doubts.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I believe, that Kansas was (in it's time) absolutely best and most important american prog (or art-rock) band. Many years ago I just found their first for me LP - "Point Of Know Return"- and stayed in love with Kansas for many years.

Absolutely sure, that two best their albums are "Leftoverture"and "Point Of Know Return". Happily, long ago I started from them. Than I tryed to find their old works, and found "Song Of America" between few others.

As for me, all Kansas' early period albums are strong and interesting. If "Leftoverture"and "Point Of Know"return are absolutely gems, everything, what is made later never took that level of musical quality again. But albums, recorded before these two all are really strong too. May be not at the same level, but anyway not too far from it. And are much more better that any after "Point Of Know Return" album.

"Song for America "is in general typical Kansas of early period - melodic mix of hard rock and art - rock they were developed later. The main difference I think is it still not that unigue balance between two styles they riched in their best works. You often can feel there when hard rock is finished and art-rock is started and vice-versa.

I had all early Kansas albums on LP first. When started with CD's, I was disappointed. Especially with "Song for America". The first re-release on CD was terrible in sound quality in comparence with LP original. I have it till now, so don't know, if there are better recorded later versions.

All in all, if "Leftoverture" and "Point of know Return " are must have classics for any proghead, "Song for America " is next in line ( between few more "Kansas" early works) and can be recommended for anyone with interest to Kansas music.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yep Sean Trane, it looks like Fly By Night, both from bands that started somehow "late" than their English counterparts (Genesis, Pink Floyd - no, I'm not saying that these bands has something in similar, they're just both Prog). Sinister cover, absolutely no optimistic, but on the other hand, music here is. Take for example Song For America, what a uplifting and almost "shiny" intro it has. And following rest of the song too. Thanks to Robert are still in place, I almost forgot that I like this band in incoming wave of new bands, new albums to review and try. But this, I should never forget it (it's only because in Czech Republic, British bands are simply more known, far more than American ones, when talking about Prog). It's almost magical, how easily this song goes and how much positive damage it causes (emotions, feelings, enjoyment guys and girls, dear readers)

Bass on Lamplight Symphony is what it makes perfect. When melody element is somehow "muted", not as much exaggerated as in previous track (which was monumental, like Mount Rushmore for example), bass kicks in and improves it all. And I even wasn't listening and looking especially for it, it just happened unintentionally.

Also, most of things I've said in previous (Leftoverture) review are true here too. Same as Ocean's Eleven has all-stars cast, this has all-stars prog elements (all of them) and also all stars rating.

4(-), still not without flaws. Drums solo in last track can be shorter (as it doesn't fit me here so good) and also certain songs, especially fourth and fifth aren't so perfect, just very good. But still, advantages of this album raises it high.

EDIT: September 2010 - 1/5 down (dolů), because of Rock songs and more or less lack of moving element (except killer song SONG FOR AMERICA)

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I really think this is KANSAS' best album. All their other albums are very inconsistant, this one is the exception although I don't think much of the first track. I was also surprised at how symphonic the title track is, and it's hard not to say that it's their best composition. Still I can't get past their AOR sound.

"Down The Road" is not a good start. Sounds like a Southern rock tune to me. "Song For America" like I said earlier is very Symphonic. Drums, violin, organ and piano stand out early. Vocals 3 minutes in. When the vocals stop the synths come in after 5 minutes. It settles with piano then picks back up with violin. Vocals are back after 8 1/2 minutes. Great song.

"Lamplight Symphony" settles with reserved vocals quickly. I like the instrumental section after 4 minutes. It settles with violin and piano after 5 1/2 minutes. Vocals are back after 7 minutes. Lots of organ here then guitar. "Lonely Street" opens with bass and vocals. It gets a lot louder before a minute. This is a Blues flavoured tune. I like it. "The Devil Game" is an uptempo track. Some nice guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. "Incomudro-Hymn To The Atman" opens with some drama before settling quickly with violin. Reserved vocals follow. The tempo continues to change. There's a drum solo 7 minutes in. A good ending as it kicks back in after 10 1/2 minutes.

3.5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Kansas' second album is also their second best (after Leftoverture), by only a slight margin. On it, they have perfected their American symphonic prog style, even incorporating it into the two rockers, Down The Road and Lonely Street.

But the highlight is obviously the title track, Song For America, a magnificent symphonic prog piece, as good as just about any prog of it's time. Powerful and complex, this song highlights just about everything this band stood for at the time.

Not far behind are Lamplight Symphony, The Devil Game and Incommudro - Hymn To The Atman, all excellent examples of the great work Kansas could produce.

I highly recommend this album.

Review by J-Man
4 stars One of The Best Albums In 70's American Prog!

Kansas has been a band that I've always wanted to check out, but for some reason I'd never bought any of their albums aside from the greatest hits collection that my father owns. Song For America served as my introduction to this band, and I must say that I am very impressed! I'm looking forward to purchasing and reviewing some more Kansas albums in the future, as Song For America got me very interested in the band.

If you're unfamiliar with Kansas, they are (at least during this era) symphonic prog, with heavy southern blues/hard rock influence. Robbie Steinhardt's violin adds most of the southern rock influence, though some of the compositions and guitar styles hint towards the southern blues rock scene as well. Song For America consists of 6 songs, 3 of which are symphonic rock epics (Song For America, Lamplight Symphony, and Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman), and the other 3 are bluesy hard rock songs (Down The Road, Lonely Street, and The Devil Game). I tend to prefer the more symphonic prog-oriented songs (especially the title track), though all of the songs are pretty good.

I don't really have any major issues with Song For America, but I must say that it doesn't quite grab me as much as albums from the other 70's prog giants. There are some really breathtaking moments on the album, but some of the music leaves me quite cold (especially Lonely Street>). Of course, these parts are in the minority, but it is what keeps me from giving this album my highest recommendations.

The musicianship is fantastic; it's actually some of the best from the 70's. Kansas really shows their chops without showing off or overdoing it. The production is really great as well. I have no complaints whatsoever on the delivery of this album.


Song For America is a classic American prog album by Kansas, and is worthy of the praise it gets, because this is a very high quality album. Even though Song For America isn't one of my favorite seventies albums, it's hard for me to deny how great this album is. For me this is a 3.5 star album, but I've got to round up considering that score is just based on my own personal taste, and not the quality of the music.

4 stars.

Review by The Quiet One
3 stars Song for Britain and America

Kansas' sophomore effort supposedly shows the band at its peak alongside Leftoverture, something that I can understand, but that clearly shows that this band never really delivered really spectacular Prog music. Anyway, you must know that I have always had issues with this band to fully appreciate them; this is with Steve's vocals, while he by no means sings badly, he can annoy me a hell-lot with his soft and overly high- pitched voice, and also the keyboard tones, they sound pretty cheesy and dated, clearly something that makes this band hard to digest. However, I can't deny that the band gave an original, though not really necessary, twist to the ''usual'' British Symphonic Prog, that is that they added their own American roots, hard rock and a bit of country music, though this didn't really make a huge difference, the band's Prog pieces shown in this album and Leftoverture still reminds you of most of the classic Prog bands from Britain.

To be more specific with Song for America, the band played efficiently and composed some decent tunes; however there's actually no highlights in the compositions. To start with, the three hard rock/blues tunes, Down the Road, Lonely Street and The Devil Game, are average songs that clearly shows that this is still a second album by a yet not fully developed Prog Rock group, something that I can accept, though makes me think: 'if this is one of the band's highly regarded albums and yet it has average rock tunes, I'm really not sure if the band could really offer something outstanding'.

When it comes to the other three, longer, pieces from the album, clearly the Prog ones, they once again show me that if these are some of Kansas' finest Prog pieces, I can hardly consider them a ''first tier Prog band'' (sorry for the term, I know many hate it), though this doesn't mean they are bad songs, it's just that overall they aren't really memorable nor grandiose as you would expect from their long length. The title track is unquestionably the best out of the three, very well arranged with nice up-lifting melodies, plus the instrumental passages are, finally, memorable: the piano, the organ, the bass, the synths, it's all superb once in for all!

To conclude I'll say that this is a fine, though not a necessary (at all) addition to your Symphonic Prog collection, that is if you already have Yes, Genesis and ELP in it, since I doubt you'll pick this before you pick one of the albums by the other bands; there's nothing I can't get from those bands that Kansas offers, and in a much better way.

3 stars: get Leftoverture first, if you feel that you can get something by it that other, previous, Prog bands can't give you, then you can safely check this album. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to get something really unique or really great from this.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nowadays when I go shopping for CDs I go for the classics I still don't own. This last week I bought 4 new albums and 1 of them was Kasas' second album Song For America (1975).

I completely loved their first album, and 2 of my all time favorites are Leftoverture (1976) and Point Of Know Return (1977), so nothing more natural to go for this album as well.

Song For America (1975) is not perfect, sure, but it's a hell of a good second album!

First track 'Down The Road' has terrible lyrics (by Walsh), but the fact that Rob sings it make my day. I love his vocals and I always wanted him singing more in Kansas albums. The title-track is a band's all time classic and nothing else has to be said really. 'Lamplight Symphony' begins weak and it gets better after the middle. 'Lonely Street' and 'The Devil Game' are strong tracks. To wrap it all another suite: 'Incomudro'.

My CD version is the 2004 remaster series from Epic and it has the title-track in single format (not interesting) and a great live performance of 'Down The Road'.

Song For America (1975) is a great album and on top of that it has one of the greatest bass' sounds in an album ever! Great Dave Hope!


Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is considered to be Kansas' most progressive album since it consists of only six tracks and three of them are 8+ minute compositions. But is it as progressive as the first glance at the track-list might insinuate? Let's revisit it and find out the answer!

The band's self-titled debut was a very versatile album featuring everything from straightforward blues, on Bringing It Back, all the way to 10 minute suites like Apercu. While Song For America was slightly more precise with the orientation of the band's sound, there were still a few moments where Kansas chose to diverge from their formula in order to take a stab at the commercial sound of the '70s. I'm referring strictly to the two shorter tunes on the second side of the record. Lonely Street is a pure blues rock number that sounds even more out of place than J.J. Cale cover did on their debut album. The Devil Game is not really any better, even though the instrumental intro might make you believe otherwise. This is a strictly a commercial rock tune and a bad one in that regard!

As for the lengthy suites, they're pretty excellent even though I can't say that they convince me as much as the material off the debut album. The album's title track is easily the most memorable out of the bunch while the more subtile Lamplight Symphony and Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman do a wonderful job of backing it up without distinguishing themselves too much in the contrast.

As a whole, Song For America doesn't feel as a complete album experience even though some of the individual highlights might paint a much more colorful picture. Still, there's no denying that it's a better record than anything that Kansas have done during the '80s so you should definitely give it a go after experiencing the three other highlight releases from Kansas '70s repertoire.

***** star songs: Song For America (9:59)

**** star songs: Down The Road (3:43) Lamplight Symphony (8:11) Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman (12:12)

*** star songs: Lonely Street (5:43) The Devil Game (5:03)

Review by baz91
5 stars Firstly, I have to say, I love Kansas. They are the band that truly put the 'rock' in 'progressive rock'. Containing both of Kansas longest two songs, 'Song For America' is the finest example of them at their most progressive. The music is rich, exciting, interesting and all the way through has the unmistakable Kansas rock feel. The choice of album title is a little clumsy, since there is obviously more than one song on the album. I feel the omission of the album title from the front cover was definitely a wise decision, as the bold Kansas logo with the dark, sinister eagle is their most striking album cover in my opinion.

-Down The Road- The album starts with a song that is only 3:44 in length. Poor form for a prog album, maybe, but in fact those who don't believe a good prog song can be less than 4 minutes will be very surprised indeed! At the beginning you'll be led to believe that this is going to be your average 4 minute rock song. However, the song turns around and surprises you as after just one verse, the band launch into a high pace instrumental that lasts nearly 2 minutes! And this isn't just a fun sounding jam either, it is really quite complicated, with well thought out guitar solos and band orchestration. Another verse follows, and after the outro plays, you will be actually quite impressed at how good that little song is!

-SONG FOR AMERICA- As I mentioned earlier, the album has a rather clumsy title. It seems to do no more than suggest that 'Song For America' is on the album, as if Kansas were trying to say 'Listen to this song!' However, you would not blame them for trying to do so, because this song in all its 10 minute glory, is not only Kansas's best song (in my opinion), but one of the most satisfying, balanced, thoughtful prog songs ever written. In true prog form, it starts with a beautiful three minute instrumental highlighting themes that all reappear later in the song, giving it a very whole feel. When the lyrics start, you can hear that it truly is a 'Song For America' as it recounts, simply but eloquently, America's past, how very peaceful it was before settlers came from Europe, and how we have 'scarred' the 'paradise' that once was and made our own paradise. The instrumental in the centre of the song, is also very progressive, having an extended section in 9/16 or 9/8 (depending on how you count notes). Everything is perfect with this song, and you feel the band aren't trying to impress you with pyrotechnics as in the first song, but instead give you a definite feel of maturity and sophistication whilst giving a truly powerful environmental message.

-Lamplight Symphony- This song suffers from being too often compared to the track that precedes it. True, this song fails to pack quite the punch that the last song gives, but this doesnt mean that its a bad song at all. In fact, besides the rather airy feel to the keyboards that I don't particularly agree with, and the peculiar lack of guitar (especially for Kansas), this song isn't really that bad. As the song's title suggests, this track has a very symphonic feel to it, with a nice chunky instrumental to enjoy between the two bouts of lyrics. The lyrics appear to detail a tragic love story, which I have never really focused on before. Certainly not a song to overlook.

-Lonely Street- Not to be confused with 'Down The Road', this opener for Side 2 of the album is one of the most peculiar songs to be heard in the Kansas catalogue. Very different to anything they've done or before or since, this song has a very heavy blues feel to it (albeit in a sneaky 11/8 format). Keen to show they are not just a one trick pony (as if we needed any proof), Kansas present us with a truly melancholy song about a man who goes to prison and comes out after 20 years. In fact, the lyrics are extremely edgy and a parental guidance sticker on this album wouldnt be surprising! 'That a black man was a dead man if he crossed my trail' and 'Caught on the street raping some old whore' are just instances of how ugly some of the imagery is. If you thought that by having a 10 minute song about the environment made the band at all wimpy, this song would surely set the record straight.

-The Devil Game- For those of you expecting a 100% perfect album, prepare to be disappointed. This song is surely one of Kansas's more obscure songs. The song, whilst having no obvious faults, has nothing particularly special about it, and is rather unmemorable. It is still worth listening to with it's high-energy guitar-filled rock sound, and unmistakable Kansas time changes. However, this song has a real air of 'filler' about it, and just fails to make a significant impression.

-Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman- At 12 minutes, we reach Kansas's longest song, which makes you wonder what would have been if they'd had a go at actually writing a sidelong epic. Unlike the title track, there is hardly anything mature or balanced about this song, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Like most amazing prog songs (eg 'Firth of Fifth' or 'By-Tor') the song has the winning formula of (short lyrical part) followed by (MEATY INSTRUMENTAL) and then topped off with (short lyrical part resembling the first part) which is followed by an outro. For example, in this song, the lyrics stop at around 2 minutes, and then only start again at about 9 minutes. The instrumental is really progtastic, my favourite part being the roughly 90 second drum solo towards the end. The outro is stunning as well, very harcore rock, quite similar to the finale of '2112' by Rush. The song, and so the album, ends with a bang, quite literally!

Overall, this album is simply stunning. While it has it's weak moments, Song For America has a range of highlights that not only make it Kansas's best, but also one of the greatest early American prog albums. After this, they would never quite have the same creativity again.

Review by colorofmoney91
2 stars Kansas has always been a band that can do both great progressive rock songs and straight forward rock n' roll, and Song For America is no change in that schema. Songs like "Down the Road" and "The Devil Game" are straight forward country-rock with fiddle and strong, heavy rock guitar playing. But, songs like "Song for America", "Lamplight Symphony" and "Incomudro" take the sophisticated symphonic feel of music written by Yes or Genesis and add a healthy dose of country rock and overall American feel.

I'm not a huge fan of Kansas, but I could definitely recommend this album to anyone looking to get into progressive rock, but also has a feel for good ol' American radio rock.

Review by stefro
4 stars Another helping of rootsy boogie-prog courtesy the American sextuplet, 'Song For America' picks up the baton right from where it's outstanding self-titled predecessor left off, though sadly it would take another few years before Kansas found themselves truly accepted by the record-buying public. However, that's not to say 'Song For America' is not worth the effort. Far From it. This is prime American prog, featuring all the hallmarks of the genre - energetic solo's, complex instrumental passages, epic themes, experimental flourishes - and shot through with a heavy, hearty dose of bluesy hard-rock and passionately-deployed vocal harmonies. Both opener 'Down The Road', a track dealing with the big taboo of drug addiction, and the title-track exhibit the usual Kansas flare, though if anything the Genesis and Yes influences are slightly more pronounced this time around, the keyboards(shared by main creative duo Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren) given much more focus as jazzy synthesizers and classically-ordained piano's battle for sonic domination alongside Steinhardt's violin and the crunchy guitar riffs. The highlight, however, has to be the twelve-minute power-epic 'Incomudro: Hymn To The Atman', another mystically-monikered Livgren-penned piece dealing with themes of ancient religion and spirituality that powers through several vibrant sections without ever losing sight of it's central idea. Most of all it is this lengthy closing opus that reflects the group's British influences, though the whimsical ambience that colours so much of the UK's progressive output has been cleverly eschewed. This is tough, muscular yet arty prog-rock that still manages to retain a link with the mainstream, a tough musical balancing act indeed. If 'Kansas' showed that this truly a group to be reckoned with, 'Song For America' confirms it. An accomplished and exciting album, this is the perfect antidote to progressive rock's many excesses. Great stuff.


Review by Warthur
4 stars Song For America? More like Prog For America! The second Kansas album finds them doubling down on the prog side of their prog rock/heartland rock mashup, which when you think about it is a pretty sound call on their part: there simply weren't many American bands on the market who were trying to challenge the British kings of prog at their own game, whilst boogie rock outfits were a dime a dozen. Take Blue Oyster Cult circa Secret Treaties, dial back the proto-metal and add significantly more in the way of keyboards, and perhaps give them a snifter of early Utopia for extra complexity, and perhaps you end up somewhere in the vicinity of this. The closing Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman may well be their proggiest moment.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut of Kansas was followed by an extensive tour by the group, hailed by the support of Kirshner.However the album was not that succesful and Kansas remained a cult name, despite performing one show over another, eventually building a base of fanatic fans.In 1975 the second album of the group was produced by Jeff Glixman and Wally Gold and was released under the title ''Song for America''.

The short opener ''Down the Road'' serves well the reason of its existence, a nice rocker with a brutal organ sound and driving grooves, but the rest of the album is the real deal.The two longer tracks ''Song for America'' and ''Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman'' are two of the most impressive compositions written by the band and fantastic examples of 70's US Prog.Rich and complex arrangements with lovely vocal lines and a great sense of melody, offered through textures torn between rockin' madness and inspirations of Classical nature, filled with massive organ and moog synth waves, Steinhardt's powerful violins and the elegant piano interludes of Livgren.'''Lamplight Symphony'' is another winner, having a dramatic mood all the way with synths more in evidence, but always maintaining a rich and emphatic sound full of instrumental activity.''Lonely Street'' releases the well-known Boogie Rock side of Kansas with bluesy guitars, good breaks and a very doomy groove.''The Devil Game'' is a short Hard Prog jewel.Violin, organs and furious rhythmic parts combine in a masterful way to produce a fast track full of changing moods and dynamic solos.

Albums like this make me sad when thinking about people who know Kansas only from ''Dust in the wind''.We're talking about full-blown Progressive Rock here filled with passion, intensity and virtuosity, delivered in very tight and memorable compositions.No less than highly recommended.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Most of the best Kansas albums have been reviewed so many times that their music really doesn't need to be explained or elaborated on too extensively. But, since they were so influential to symphonic prog in the 70s, I felt it at least worth my time to put my two cents worth in. This album is an excellent early album which was released before Kansas had hit the big time. The production is good on the longest tracks, but seems to be sketchy on the shorter tracks. Picking apart the various songs on this one: 1) This one I think is an attempt to make a radio friendly song. It is a decent song, but nothing spectacular (4 stars); 2) This is the title track and clocks in just short of 10 minutes. This track is one reason to search this album out. Amazing instrumentation, ingenuity and great vocals. Constantly changing meters, tempos, intriguing melodies and great production. This would become a concert staple and rightfully so. Kansas was out to show the world what they were capable of. (5 stars); 3) Even though this one is around 8 minutes and has some great instrumentals, I find it quite sappy and this drags the songs quality down. This is one that I feel embarrassed for the group for because of the corny lyrics. However, the level of perfection in the instrumentals bring the star level up half a notch (4 1/2 stars); 4) A failed attempt at giving their sound a blues-y feeling. The vocals don't work and the overall song is not convincing enough to be taken seriously as a blues oriented song. (3 stars); 5) This one is geared more to an attempt at hard rock with lyrics trying to attract Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin listeners at the time. Again, it doesn't really work well with Kansas. Fortunately these last two songs are short. 6) This one is a masterpiece and is another epic song at over 12 minutes. This has all the great qualities that the title track (#2) has plus one of the most amazing drum solos. A drum solo normally would take away from this, but not in this case, it is a perfect fit for this song and fortunately does not wear out it's welcome by going on too long. (5 stars). Overall this album is worth having because of tracks 2 and 6 which fortunately take up a good part of the album. The other shorter tracks are of "meh" quality to me, and the other long track (#3) is too corny to be taken seriously all the way through. Because of it's unevenness this album only gets 4 stars, but those two amazing tracks should be considered masterpieces
Review by FragileKings
4 stars Recently, I have acquired a few albums by American prog bands of the seventies and I have to say that on all them the musical influences are blatantly obvious: Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis. The music is really good and each band gives something of its own to the music, but nevertheless, it is still highly derivative. Kansas, however, I find are not so obvious, having developed their own sound early on.

I have never heard the debut of Kansas; however, their second album, 'Song for America' sees them steering on the course that would eventually produce 'Leftoverture' and 'The Point of Know Return' all the while keeping their barroom rock style on par with their more complex music.

The album features three shorter boogie rock songs that are more of the rock hall crowd-pleaser variety and three longer songs where the band can really stretch out. So, let's look at 'Song for America', 'Lamplight Symphony', and 'Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman' for this is where Kansas' unique brand of progressive ROCK is at its most spectacular.

'Song for America' takes over three minutes to get to the lyrics as we are treated to various instrumental parts featuring piano, violin, and guitar. The bass is mixed right up there with the lead instruments and for good reason because it is a busy instrument. The song is about the rampant exploitation of the natural resources of America. The music goes through many paces and there are some wonderful parts that are classically influenced and others more rock. Of the three Kansas albums I have from the seventies, this might just be my favourite song.

'Lamplight Symphony' is a little bit Blue Oyster Cult in style as it is a bit darker and the lyrics are about a man who sees the ghost of his wife. Musically, it is suspenseful and dramatic at times but also includes some quieter parts with piano and violin.

The final track 'Incomundro - Hymn to the Atman' is the longest and provides plenty of room for instrumental showcasing, particularly the synthesizer solo that has a signature seventies symphonic prog sound that is reminiscent of Camel. There's a hard rock theme that gives way to more classical influences at reflects a bit of Yes and some other classic English prog bands. There's a dramatic classical-like conclusion on the synthesizer but with fast-paced drums and bass.

As I understand it, Kansas improved upon their debut with this album but then turned a bit more mainstream for their third album. Much praise goes to 'Leftoverture' which many say is their best album. So far, however, I think the longer tracks on 'Song for America', particularly the title track, are either on par with or more interesting than a lot of the material on 'Leftoverture'. In any case, this is a very good album and quite exemplary of Kansas' style in the seventies. To me, their rock sound is similar to Triumph only with more keyboards and a violin. But their symphonic prog ROCK pieces are quite worthy of mention among some of the big names of seventies prog. If you've tried and liked 'Leftoverture' and 'Point of Know Return', I do recommend getting this album next. Only their second album and the band have put out quite a piece of work.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars As unlikely as it sounds, Songs to America is what happens when hard rockin' boogie Americana mixes with full-on symphonic rock. The outcome is something that could only happen in the '70's, and makes for fantastic listening. This is not only a great prog-inspired album by one of the era's most popular hard rock acts... it's a great prog record in general.

Today we hear Kansas on the radio only with "Carry on My Wayward Son," but there's a wealth of music in this early album that is much more interesting than that from the band's commercial peak. "Down the Road" opens the album at rip-roaring speed, showing off right away with Steinhardt's lead violin, and its interplay with the heavy use of organ, that this isn't going to be a normal rock experience. This song just plain cooks, and while it is more or less a straight ahead rocker, it throws down a gauntlet of instrumental virtuosity that sets the expectations for the rest of the album pretty dang high!

So what should follow a teeth-kicking hard rocker? Why, a 10-minute symphonic concept piece with multiple movements featuring numerous time signature changes, instrumental passages, and walls of synthesizer sound! Whaaaa?! Who's idea was this? Because it's freaking brilliant. "Song for America" has so many appealing melodies, impressive performances, and a great energy. It's a wonderful example of how a the prog genre is invigorated by a band that knows how to rock, and Kansas doesn't hold back.

So why not follow it up with ANOTHER extended work? "Lamplight Symphony" is dramatic and tension filled, with layers of keyboards, passionate vocals, and an instrumental spectacle at the midpoint. A wonderful balance of intensity, grace, and emotion.

"Lonely Street" returns us to hard rock FM, with a dirty bluesy beat made interesting thanks to the band's ambitious playing. "Devil's Game" is the final hard rocker - a huge, riff-filled, bottom heavy hard rock monster. The dual-guitar- plus-bass combo puts the boots to the listener with aggressive playing, definitely leaving me wanting more.

And I get it with the album's close, the 12-minute "Incomudro--Hymn to the Atman." This is the most ambitious work in the album, showing great restraint, composition, and a sense of journey. We're taken from gentle, breezy passages to the fist pumping, guitar shredding finale that somehow makes even a 2-minute drum solo seem appropriate. A great, and somehow forgotten, prog track.

Bottom line, Kansas shows that they're a versatile, engaging, talented, and probably under rated group with Songs for America. It fits right in alongside the progressive works of bands like Rush from the era, and definitely deserves attention. I enjoyed it much more than what is often considered they're key album, Leftoverture. It doesn't have quite the polish to make it a 5-star masterpiece, but it's unquestionably an outstanding rock/prog experience. Highly recommended.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Not knowing KANSAS well is one of my faults. Years ago, when I saw their albums in the shops, I thought they were a band like America, Chicago (I actually knew the commercial side only of Chicago), so I've never paid attention to them. It's curious that thanks to PA I doscovered the band from that sort of spin-off that's Proto-Kaw, which is the original band lineup before their first album. Well, now I'm trying to recover the time lost amd I'm listening to KANSAS as they were a new band.

This second album starts with a country-rock song reminding of the early WISHBONE ASH, but with great keyboards instead of the second guitar. A very good radio-friendly song of about 3 minutes.

It's with the first of the 3 long tracks that the reason why this is considered a prog band becomes clear: Song For America is a 10 minutes track with all the goodies that prog fans like: odd signatures, recurring themes, long instrumental parts and, despite the vocals which sound very "american", I think that a bit of GENESIS influence can't be denied even if mixed with a good dose of funk.

The second long track is Lamplight Symphony. Also this is undoubtely a prog song, only the vocals to me sound too "pop", but it's a question of personal tastes, not an uncontrovertible truth. The choirs have their harmonies and are technically good. Said so, it's logical that I prefer the excellent instrumental parts.

What on vynil was the B side starts with a hard blues. Speaking of personal tastes, this is a kind of things that I like a lot. In the vein of DEEP PURPLE, BLUE OYSTER CULT, URIAH HEEP and with a bit of fantasy, also JETHRO TULL. I love this song. It's the kind of stuff on which I could switch the repeat feature on.

The Devil Game, instead, starts with keyboards and bass and if it wasn't for the vocals (less "american" here) I could think it's a YES song. Anyway this is another ROCK song, with a good uptime and a couple of very good riffs by guitar and keyboards.

The last track, "Incommudro", is the third long one. It features a remarkable drums solo, but it's quite a standard prog song. Again I have URIAH HEEP and WISHBONE ASH in mind for the kind of sounds. It contains all the things that a prog song must have to be called so.

Prog in 1975 was about to decline, so Kansas were late, they can be considered derivative, but who cares? This album is full of excellent stuff. Good songs skillfully played, not very original maybe, but excellent anyway. I'll continue digging KANSAS for sure.

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5 stars KANSAS and the start of some epic albums! 1 Down The Road I don't know if they invented anything in rock, but it's well used... like it's been overheard; good the solo yes I'm on it already, very good, it turns in all directions; the voice yes nervous, but harder than prog, in short surely a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2944880) | Posted by alainPP | Thursday, August 10, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was the album that got me into Kansas in the first place. The only "Kansas" I heard was the FM rotations of "Carry On Wayward Son" And "Dust In The Wind". When I picked up this album at the recommendation of my grandfather (same man who got me into Yes, Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd to name a few ... (read more)

Report this review (#2857826) | Posted by Progmin23 | Tuesday, December 13, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hymn to the Atman is my all-time favorite Kansas song and i think it doesn't get the credit or playing time it deserves for being a true prog rock masterpiece! Kerry Livgren's poetic words are like a miracle out of nowhere as they put it. You have to be old to know what growing old means. and h ... (read more)

Report this review (#2586832) | Posted by userme1 | Tuesday, August 17, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I watch Don Kirshners rock concert when I was a freshman at n high school I believe.Well one night he introduced a brand new band called Kansas.I had never heard anything like them and was blown away right off the bat. I quickly went and got Song For America and from there went back and got their ... (read more)

Report this review (#1892139) | Posted by Jzrk | Thursday, March 8, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The most Prog album Kansas ever released! It contains some fantastic songs, but I really wish the arrangements were different... Let's do a track-by-track review: 1. Down the Road A very nice track, but not in coherence with the prog spirit of the rest of the album. This one could easily be a s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1382113) | Posted by BigDaddyAEL1964 | Saturday, March 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kansas's second album continues the progressive trend established in the first album, as well as their inclination for more bluesy, rocking tunes. But this is arguably the band's most progressive album, containing three songs over eight minutes in length. I usually subdivide the album into tw ... (read more)

Report this review (#916075) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 'Song For America' came straight after the band debut self titled album and marked a progression in the songwriting and sound quality of the band. Album opener "Down The Road" is a catchy boogie song with great leading guitar and dominant violin that completes the rock n roll vibe of the song with ... (read more)

Report this review (#507541) | Posted by Bippo | Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I've been a member of PA for more than three years now, and a frequent visitor for even longer, but this is my first time reviewing a Kansas album. The reason for that is I find them or at least the ones I have at any rate frustratingly inconsistent. Kansas as a group is both exceedingly talented ... (read more)

Report this review (#303837) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Thursday, October 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Kansas at it's best. THis album is worth the price of admission if only for it's epic title masterpiece. Possibly one of the best 10 songs ever in the history of prog. (Yikes, did I just write that?) Only "Lonely Street" and "Down the Road" keep this from being a 5-star prog masterwork. Those ... (read more)

Report this review (#294048) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Song For America was the first Kansas album I heard, and so far it hasn't excited enough to get their other albums. On surface it all sounds great. They even have a violin player and I have always loved violin in rock. But somehow it all just leaves me quite cold, the music sounds to my ears n ... (read more)

Report this review (#232091) | Posted by nikow | Monday, August 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The album starts off with Down the Road, one of Walsh's rocker, this one about a drug dealer. It makes use of bluesy organ fills and dual lead guitars, something Boston and their like would soon make use of, but it is used to its full glory on this album. Song for America is the album's best song ... (read more)

Report this review (#202022) | Posted by MrEdifus | Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Profession of faith. By the time, it was not an ode to Livgren's yet to show up Christian faith but more a declaration of love to the Nature and the land of America, coupled with a warning to the damages that the human race could cause them. In a way, the beginnings of pro-ecology protest son ... (read more)

Report this review (#178946) | Posted by Bupie | Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was the first Kansas album I bought in 1975. I went into my usual record store hangout (Giant Music where 90% of my record collection came from!) and was talking prog with one of the sales reps and he pulls out this album saying If you're into Yes or ELP, you'll like these guys! So I figure ... (read more)

Report this review (#166774) | Posted by marktheshark | Monday, April 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I grew up listening to the American classic rock format on radio, and my favorite band from age 8 up was the Doobie Brothers (shields face from prog tomatoes). As "Carry on Wayward Son" was and is one of the most oft-played songs on such formats, I found it comparatively complex and lyrically com ... (read more)

Report this review (#152248) | Posted by kwhitegocubs | Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Song For America" was the first album I ever heard from Kansas, and I have to say I was very Lucky! All the musicians are at their best, especially for Phil Ehart (drums), Kerry Livgren (piano and vocals) and Robbie Steinhardt (violin). Their work is very powerful, rich, and really well inspired. ... (read more)

Report this review (#132523) | Posted by progpromoter | Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the most interesting things about this album is way the style alternates between songs. Walsh and Livgren have very different sounds, which are excentuated on this album by the way they each write their own songs, then mix them together on the album. This albums jumps back and forth betwee ... (read more)

Report this review (#93590) | Posted by Nowhere Man | Friday, October 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the first prog bands I was in to (being from America and all). Once I discovered Yes, ELP, and Genesis the same year this album came out, I realized where a lot of the inspiration came from (though Kansas definitely had its own 'sound'). Having its own sound, I agree with one reviewer ... (read more)

Report this review (#79291) | Posted by prog4evr | Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the first progrock album from this band. From the straight rock of "Down the Road" to the masterpiece "Song for America" unsurpassed by any american band in lyrics and music. The piano in "Lampligt Symphony" is melancholic, but the overall feeling is of joy. This is maybe their best r ... (read more)

Report this review (#72440) | Posted by steelyhead | Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Magic is how i remember my first experiance listening to this Album for the first time now I just see it as a work of genius. This for me was the first true indication of what was destined to follow with that said however I dont think Kansas themselves or even perhaps there fans realised the pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#47981) | Posted by Trouble X | Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first masterpiece by Kansas. They offer the blend of progressive/artrock, hard-rock and even blues-rock. It's clearly heard Kansas made a leap forward since the first album. Most recommended can be the two epic tracks - Song for America and Hymn to the Atman. The instrumental prowess is ... (read more)

Report this review (#39260) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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