Kansas - Song For America

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Sony/Legacy
Catalog Number: 086610
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:56:00

This is old, but not dated. It's alive and definitely kicking. The remaster is so good; one would think this was a brand-new band. The production is so vibrant; it is hard to believe these recordings occurred several decades ago.

This may be the definitive album of Kansas. Considering the smash-hit success of Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return, this statement should indicate the accomplishments of this lesser-known album. Many artists have pillaged its many treasures and put them on display elsewhere. Likewise, Kansas had a uniqueness that has never been fully captured elsewhere. They take good ole' American rock n' roll and catalyze it with elements of progressive rock.

Song For America (Kirshner/CBS 1975 (PZ 33385)) is a timeworn classic. For those of you who don't already own a copy, this is the one you'll want. For those who already do, consider an upgrade to this new edition.

Here's the syllabus for this particular history lesson:

"Down The Road" - This custom-made component is interchangeable with Lynyrd Skynard's "Swamp Music." While not an identical match, this after-market part effectively does the trick.

"Song For America" - The song is much more groundbreaking than their more recognizable songs like "Dust In The Wind," "Carry On Wayward Son," or "Point Of Know Return." Being an avid fan of Transatlantic, I was somewhat surprised to find similarities in the Transatlantic epics "Duel With The Devil" and "Stranger In Your Soul." There are even parts in "Suite Charlotte Pike" that can be heard. Traversing this territory will certainly cause a serious case of d?j? vu. The resemblance is uncanny. There is no question Neal Morse was influenced by this song. This song is packed with more goodies than a Halloween candy bag. While left on the porch with a "please take one" sign affixed around its midsection, Neal looked both ways and took off with the bucket. Fortunately, he put it to good use and has been feeding starving fans for years. It is no wonder why Kerry Livgren is now involved in Neal's latest projects. One can only imagine Neal has a tremendous amount of respect for this band.

"Lamplight Symphony" - While this song is light and lively, a few sequences walk through the shadows. It is way ahead of its time and could easily be mistaken for something from The Tangent. Andy Tillison and Sam Baine were surely influenced by the keyboards, piano, and songwriting of Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren.

"Lonely Street" - While there is a hint of progressive rock in the mix, this mostly takes a blues bend. The song is fairly straightforward and tamer than the rest. There isn't a single keyboard to be found here.

"The Devil Game" - This song contains many good beats. It is really driven with a fast-paced tempo and a number of dynamic passages. Aside from maybe the title track, this is a close second to being the highlight of the album. While the song is short, it wastes no time in the spotlight and entertains with plenty of pyrotechnics.

"Incomudro (Hymm To The Atman)" - It crawls out from a valley and climbs to the hilltops. When alone and far away, it takes time to frolic through the fields. The body of the song is a number of experimental episodes that range from King Crimson to ELP to Queen. The return home follows the same route, but the descent is hurried by a gravitational pull. The song takes awhile to develop like any great epic, which is why it is the longest song on the album.

"Song For America (Single Edit)" - This version is sliced and diced. After being put on a meager diet, what remains is only a third its size. While lean and gaunt, it still manages to have a familiarity to the original. The main chorus becomes the core focus while the progressive passages are practically missing. The editors managed to make this radically more commercial. It's debatable whether this is a good or bad thing.

"Down The Road (Live)" - A song has never sounded so great live. It is hard to tell which version is preferred, because their live performance is such a close clone to the original.

Reissued on CD in 1990 (ZK33385)

Song For America: Down The Road (3:43) / Song For America (10:03) / Lamplight Symphony (8:17) / Lonely Street (5:43) / The Devil Game (5:04) / Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman (12:11) / Bonus: Song for America (3:01) * / Down The Road (3:49)*

* Previously Unreleased

Kerry Livgren - Guitar, Keyboards
Steve Walsh - keyboards, vocals
Phil Ehart - Drums
Dave Hope - Bass
Robbie Steinhardt - Violin, Vocals
Rich Williams - Guitar

Kansas (1974)
Song For America (1975)
Masque (1975/2001)
Leftoverture (1976/2001)
Point of Know Return (1977/1984/2002)
Two For The Show (1978)
Monolith (1979)
Audio Visions (1980)
Vinyl Confessions (1982)
Drastic Measures (1983)
The Best Of Kansas (1984)
Power (1986)
In The Spirit Of Things (1988)
Carry On (1990)
Live At The Whisky (1992)
Box Set (1994)
Freaks of Nature (1995)
Always Never The Same (1998)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Kansas (1998)
Definitive Collection (1999)
Best Of Kansas (altered re-release) (1999)
Somewhere To Elsewhere (2000)
Live! Extended Versions (2000)
The Ultimate Kansas (2002)
Device-Voice-Drum (2002)
In Concert (2003)
Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004 (2004)
On The Other Side (2005)
Kansas: Extended Versions (2005)
Works In Progress (2006)
Super Hits (2007)
Discover Kansas (2007)
There's Know Place Like Home (2010)

Best Of Kansas Live (VHS) (1982)
Live At The Whisky (VHS) (1995)
Device Voice Drum (DVD) (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website: www.kansasband.com
Hits: 1500
Language: english


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