Category: Kansas

Kansas – Song for America

ARTIST: Kansas                        Kansas_-_Song_for_America

TITLE: Song for America

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #57

SINGLES: Song for America

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I really doubt it

LINEUP: Steve Walsh, Kerry Livgren, Robby Steinhardt, Rich Williams, Dave Hope, Phil Ehart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Another bifurcated album from the band, with half being rockers and half being long prog songs. It doesn’t really work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Out of the gate, this is the tale of two bands making one album. “Down the Road” is a rocker, with only a proggy violin element (and vocals by Robby Steinhardt, not Steve Walsh), and then the ‘hit’ “Song for America” comes out – all 10 minutes of it.

The rest of the record is split as well. Two more prog songs (eight and twelve minutes), and two rockers (shorter at five minutes). Those songs don’t do anyone any justice, and “Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman” makes about as much sense as the title.

You could hear that something was coming together, as “Song for America” had definite moments, and within 18 months, the band would be well known. Just not for this one, and for good reason.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The edited version of “Song for America” was three minutes, so yeah, there was proggy bloat.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live cuts and the 45 version of the title track. 

GRADE: C: This one doesn’t click for me. It’s doesn’t sound cohesive at all.

Kansas – Kansas

ARTIST: Kansas Kansas_-_Kansas
TITLE: Kansas
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #174
SINGLES: Can I Tell You, Bringing It Back
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: To even chart, this had to get some airplay somewhere, but for the life of me I don’t know what songs they would have played except the singles.
LINEUP: Steve Walsh, Kerry Livgren, Robby Steinhardt, Dave Hope, Rick Williams, Phil Ehart.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Two bands come together to form one unit, but combining the two results in an uneven debut.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When you think of Kansas, you think of ornate songs with progressive rock undertones and pop hooks. Oh, and “Dust in the Wind”. Deep cuts on their popular albums show their progressive side a great deal – long cuts mining all of the prog rock tricks.

This album, taken from the repertoire of bands that Livgren and Walsh led, sounds a bit patched together. Its proggy songs don’t have great hooks, and the more mainstream rock songs also don’t excite the listener. Frankly, Walsh’s song aren’t really up to scratch in my ears, while Livgren’s progressive rock songs show off Kansas in a better form.

It’s definitely a mixed bag, and you can afford to be selective.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A writing credit leaves me to believe that Walsh, Hope and Ehart were in one band, while Livgren, Steinhardt and Williams were in the other.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: One bonus cut – an overly long live version of a JJ Cale song which is one of the ones I’m exiling.

GRADE: B-: I’m keeping six of the eight, and they range from OK to pretty good. They were OK as a prog rock band though they did show off a bit outside of a song’s context.