Kansas - Somewhere To Elsewhere

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 9050-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:29:00

Kansas (courtesy)Apparently, after seventeen years, Kerry Livgren made drummer Phil Ehart sit down and listen to some new demos. It struck Phil how close these new compositions came to vintage Kansas material. This sudden remark was the fuel to relaunch the Kansas rocket! Based around the equally "vintage" line-up, the new album Somewhere To Elsewhere will be a pleasant surprise for those who thought Kansas had completely lost their magic touch.

It only takes Robby Steinhardt's violin to mingle with Kerry Livgren's keyboards to know it's Kansas, and most important of all, that they're heading in the right direction once again. Opener "Icarus II" is sort of a sequel to "Icarus" which we have known since its inclusion on the 1976 album Masque. The vocal harmony together with the unique sound of Robby's violin and the classical arrangement makes this a very worthwhile opener. I also noticed a very Kayak-like ending especially where Richard's guitar is concerned. Whilst I already noticed it during "Icarus II" it's even more apparent during "When The World Was Young": Steve Walsh's voice is more hoarse than it's ever been, yet it nicely contrasts with the fine musical details. Due to the powerful drive courtesy of the guitar, "When The World Was Young" is a strong contestant for daytime FM radio. I also like the way a small snippet of the intro for "Magnum Opus" has been included. "Grand Fun Alley" is a funky yet bluesy piece with a lot of space for the roaring bass guitar. Also the chorus is very special and addictive.

"The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)" is built around a very strong vocal chorus, proving yet again what a great talent Steve Walsh really is! In fact Kansas is a very lucky band in that they can chose from a wealth of no fewer than three lead singers. This extra diversifies the album with Steve Walsh taking on most of the leads, Robby Steinhardt lending his voice on two tracks and Billy Greer taking the lead on one new song. As is very prominent on all Kansas material, Robby's violin playing once again takes "The Coming Dawn" to unseen heights, blending nicely with the acoustic guitar and the subtle drumming of Phil Ehart. Recorded in Kerry's rural Grandy Zine Studios in Berryton, Kansas, I'm convinced that the setting played an important factor during the recording of this album with a very positive sounding CD as a result. Almost thirty years in the making and so far never released is the epic "Myriad". Partly re-written, this song perfectly illustrates the original approach to music even including an organ intervention that could well be lifted from ELP's "Tarkus". Here Yes-like harmonies alternate with even more Johan Slager (Kayak) like guitar solos. "Myriad" also has one hell of a strong chorus, whilst some of the harmonies in the middle section remind me of some poppy psychedelica rediscovered by the likes of XTC. The same psychedelic kind of chorus goes one further during the intro for "Look At The Time" which gets close to Spock's Beard harmonies and the obvious Beatles comparison. That's before some dark sounding guitar riffs start to mingle with superb organ and the ubiquitous violin.

I see it as rather "normal" that a band who's been around as long as Kansas, has tried every kind of music in order to make its music as complete as possible. At any given moment, with practically every artist, one will at one point or another detect the blues. That's exactly the case with the swinging "Disappearing Skin Tight Blues" which once again highlights the incredible talents of "mister fiddle" Robby Steinhardt. A live stomper if ever I heard one! Kerry's grand piano blending together with acoustic guitars and the overwhelming sound of the violin in "Distant Vision" makes me think of some of the highlights on Masque. Especially the melody on the piano is breathtaking. Alternating piano, violin and organ sounds very fresh and innovative here with a superb interplay between Livgren and Steinhardt as "pi?ce de r?sistance". Then again "Byzantium" is a song you have to get used to because it contains elements one would not associate with Kansas at all. First of all it kicks off with some ominous sounding choir before the band approaches the Arabic scales steering this song into pure Led Zeppelin territory combined with Gregorian chant. And it works very, very well as it keeps you, the listener, on your toes because you want to explore more and more, want to delve into that unpredictable composition. And whilst you're delving you forget the fact that with "Not Man Big" you have already reached the end of an electrifying album. The power rock which is "Not Man Big" has all the right ingredients to please very well during live gigs: superb drums/bass collaboration, heavy guitar riffs, swirling organ and, wait for it, yet some more Arabic sounding arrangements leading the way for maestro Steinhardt. The song grows and grows and could well go on for hours on end. After a short silence there's a rudimentary acoustic bit of blues added as kind of a mystery track. The laughter during that recording makes me feel confident for the future of Kansas.

With Somewhere To Elsewhere Kansas has found the balance between Leftoverture and Point of Know Return but with the zest of the 21st century. Carry on my wayward sons!

Icarus II (7:17) / When The World Was Young (5:48) / Grand Fun Alley (4:34) / The Coming Dawn (5:42) / Myriad (8:54) / Look At The Time (5:35) / Disappearing Skin Tight Blues (7:) / Distant Vision (8:47) / Byzantium (4:13) / Not Man Big (7:39)

Steve Walsh - lead vocals, backrgound vocals
Robby Steinhardt - violins, violas, lead vocals, background vocals
Richard Williams - guitars
Kerry Livgren - keyboards, guitars
Phil Ehart - drums
Billy Greer - bass, lead vocals, background vocals
Dave Hope - bass

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 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.kansasband.com
Hits: 1023
Language: english


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