(19 July 2004) Kansas' second album released in 1975 shows the band maturing and coming into their own with what many consider to be one of their finest albums. The CD opens with "Down the Road" a catchy full fledged rocker with Robby handling lead vocals. Excellent violin, organ and guitar interplay throughout. Kerry and Richard's dueling guitar parts during the middle break is a highlight to this short but excellent track.
"Song for America," a ten minute progressive rock gem, is without a doubt the best track on the CD and one of the best in the entire Kansas catalog. A Livgren composition this track finds the band at their finest. The song is perfectly structured from start to finish, not an easy feat for a ten minute song. The opening guitar/bass riff followed by a gorgeous melodic lead line played by Robby is pure sonic bliss. Steve Walsh has never sounded better during the verses which showcase the songwriting genius of Kerry Livgren. Stunning synth and organ lines interwoven with lead violin highlight the instrumental passages. Phil Ehart's drum work is second to none. Not enough can be said about this track as it's simply one of the finest tracks ever recorded in the progressive rock genre.
"Lamplight Symphony" another progressive rock epic with it's sweeping synths, lush violins and haunting melody is another highlight of this album. Steve and Robby's vocal harmonies work perfectly. The middle part with its ascending and descending synth and violin lines is not to be missed. Kerry's gorgeous acoustic piano arpeggio's highlight the soft passages bringing the track back to the verse and then to a powerful conclusion.
"Lonely Street" a blues like track gives bassist Dave Hope a chance to shine. This raw and gritty number features the trademark dual guitar sound Kansas would perfect on future albums. "Devil Game" with its blistering guitar lines and stabbing organ lines is pure fun. Phil's deft drumming is a highlight of this track.
"Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman" the closing track is without a doubt the most adventurous cut on the CD. Coming in at just over 12 minutes this would be the longest track the band ever recorded. All the elements of a great progressive rock track can be found here. Sweeping melodies, virtuoso playing, elegant lead lines, soaring vocals all tightly interwoven into this exquisite and moving gem. A special highlight is Phil's extended drum solo which shows just how exceptional a drummer Phil Ehart is.
There is a bonus Track--"Song for America" (single edit). This is the previously unreleased single edit. Don Kirschner edited the track himself and it's a nice treat hearing it on CD for the first time. Another is "Down The Road" live from the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio 1975. Another piece from the 1975 show allows the band to really let loose. Kerry and Richard's dual guitar work is a highlight.
Newly remastered sound by Joseph M. Palmaccio at Sony music studios adds clarity and depth to the music that was missing from the original mid 80's first CD releases. Vocals are clear and crisp. Keyboards and violins sparkle. Guitar, bass and drums shimmer with sonic perfection. Separation and detail are excellent throughout making it hard to believe these albums were recorded thirty years ago.
Informative essays written by Bret Adams along with excellent photos of the band make this new reissue a must have.
Excellent photos of the band make this new reissue a must have.
Whether you're new to Kansas or a longtime fan this new CD will be a welcome addition to your music collection.--Scott Bassin