16 studio albums, the classic double live album (“Two For The Show”), 30 million records sold. But Kansas wasn’t left with much more than the big seventies hits “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind.” Unfortunately, the latter is not available in the original on this anniversary compilation, but in the version that the band recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1998. At some point, such combinations always end up with really big cutlery.
Interludes, meter changes, virtuosic adjustments, and synth solos that reliably lead nowhere
The Topeka sextet, simply named after their home state in the United States, started out with a little varied mix of prog à la Genesis, Yes, ELP, hard rock riffs, melodic hooks and boogie. The one selling point was and always has been the fiddle, originally played by Robby Steinhardt, who died in 2021. Surprisingly enough, Kansas still exists today, led by drummer Phil Ehart as the only remaining founding member. After all, the lead author was soon lost. Kerry Livgren had found God and temporarily turned Kansas into a Christian rock band in the early 1980s, prompting singer Steve Walsh to temporarily flee.
The 41 tracks here begin with a new version of “Can I Tell You” that’s 20 seconds longer but no different than the original in its 1974 debut. After that it continues chronologically, albeit from now on. And if you listen to the last piece, “Journey From Mariabronn”, and immediately after the first, title of their latest album, “The Absence Of Presence” (2020), you have to affirm that Kansas is trying to buy time thematically, musically but they have remained incredibly loyal. Oh, all the interludes, meter changes, virtuosic adjustments, synth solos, etc. which reliably lead nowhere… Or maybe to nirvana?
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