Kansas - The Ultimate Kansas

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Legacy Recordings
Catalog Number: EK 86452
Format: CD
Total Time: 134:14:00

This is exactly what it says it is, The Ultimate Kansas. All the songs have been remastered for the highest possible quality and they feature the very best of the Kansas catalog in a refreshingly potent and aurally intoxicating way.

Kansas blazed a trail for all the prog rockers that came after them with their free spirited lyrics and adventurous musically complex arrangements. They hailed from Topeka, Kansas, and their chances to succeed were against all odds. Their tremendous success is what makes their legacy that much more interesting and incredible. So it's not only the music that tells the story, it's the band and the individuals that made the music that completes this fantastic circle of emotions and sound.

I don't think you will find a better collection of Kansas at their peak, and that includes the previously released boxed set. There are 26 tracks, no fluff or filler, just primo prog-rock found in each and every track. How many groups can put out a two CD Best Of set without one dud on it? Not many, trust me. Appropriately, their most recognizable song besides "Dust In The Wind," "Carry On Wayward Son," leads off this marvelous two CD set. And everything else that follows is equally gripping and exhilarating. One of the best one-two-punch rock vocal duos ever known paired Steve Walsh, who also played keyboards, and Robbie Steinhardt, who gave the group a definitely progressive flavor with his vigorous electric violin, gave their music unrivaled emotion and body. And the prolific writing talents of Kerry Livgren, who also played a mighty guitar, were major cogs in the Kansas music machine.

"What's On My Mind" is my favorite track, I find it irresistible, and it's very hard not to sing to, it's a real rocker with deep and meaningful lyrics. In fact, all of the Kansas songs have a lot of meaning; there is a two fold reason why so many people enjoy their music. It's not only the sounds, it's the subject matter of the songs that people can relate to their own lives that makes it so appealing. "Portrait (He Knew)" has to be one of the most thought provoking rock songs ever recorded; it's about Albert Einstein, which I never knew. If you listen closely it really hits the mark. "Sparks Of The Tempest" is another rocker that I always loved with mythology and an ancient civilization as the stage.

Reflecting upon my own history listening to the group, I found Monolith, Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return to be the strongest material of their career. Although all their music was great, these are the three albums I remember most.

The last track is a live version of "Magnum Opus," and what a rocking and powerful version it is. I have had the pleasure to see the group live in 1983 and then most recently on July 7th of this year. If you listen to this and get excited about catching them live, that's a good thing. Please remember that they are not the same group they once were. They were good, but nothing like they were when all the original members were together in their prime.

If you need a good introduction to this group this is a great place to start, then work your way back through their catalog. If you happen to have every release, this would be nice to have all of the best packed into two discs rather than skipping around looking for your favorite songs. That's something that I never do actually, I listen to the entire album straight through, especially when it's a great prog-rock group like Kansas. You really have to pay attention to each and every song so you don't miss anything, there is always so much going on.

Your search can now come to and end for the ultimate Kansas package, this is it. Unless of course they release a more comprehensive boxed set with a lot of rarities and live tracks. You never know...

Disc One: Carry On Wayward Son (5:22) / Song for America (10:01) / The Wall (4:47) / Lonely Street (5:42) / Journey From Mariabronn (7:57) / Child Of Innocence (4:31) / Mysteries And Mayhem (4:12) / The Pinnacle (9:35) / Bringing It Back (3:34) / Down The Road (3:44) / What's on My Mind (3:25) / Death Of Mother Nautre Suite (7:53)

Disc Two: Point Of Know Return (3:12) / Cheyenne Anthem (6:53) / Fight Fire With Fire (3:42) / Dust In The Wind (3:27) / Hold On (3:51) / No One Together (6:58) / Play The Game Tonight (3:27) / Closet Chronicles (6:28) / Sparks Of The Tempest (4:12) / Portrait (He Knew) (4:31) / On The Other Side (6:24) / People Of The South Wind (3:37) / A Glimpse Of Home (6:33) / Magnum Opus (live) (8:57)

Kerry Livgren - synthesizer, acoustic and electric guitars percussion, piano, keyboards, clavinet, whistle
Phil Ehart - percussion, chimes, drums, gong, tympani
Dave Hope - bass
Steve Walsh - vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion, piano, celeste, keyboards, vocals, vibraphone, chromatic inverter
Robby Steinhardt - violin, cello, viola, vocals, lap cello
Billy Greer - bass
John Elefante - vocals
Steve Morse - guitars
David Ragsdale - violin
Rich Williams - guitars

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: July 16th 2002
Reviewer: Keith "Muzikman" Hannaleck
Artist website: www.kansasband.com
Hits: 636
Language: english


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