For any art rock band, the fourth album means it's time for a self-styled masterpiece -- if you need proof, look at Selling England by the Pound or Fragile. So, with Kansas, the most determinedly arty of all American art rock bands, they composed and recorded Leftoverture, an impenetrable conundrum of significance that's capped off by nothing less than a five-part suite, appropriately titled "Magnum Opus," and featuring such promising movement titles as "Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat" and "Release the Beavers." Of course, there's no telling whether this closing opus relates to the opener, "Carry On Wayward Son," the greatest single Kansas ever cut -- a song that manages to be pompous, powerful, ridiculous, and catchy all at once. That they never manage to rival it anywhere on this record is as much a testament to their crippling ambition as their lack of skills. And it's unfair to say Kansas are unskilled, since they are certainly instrumentally proficient and they can craft songs or, rather, compositions that appear rather ambitious. Except these compositions aren't particularly complex, rhythmically or harmonically, and are in their own way as ambling as boogie rock, which still feels to be their foundation. It's not really fair to attack Kansas for a concept album with an impenetrable concept -- it's possible to listen to Lamb Lies Down on Broadway hundreds of times and not know what the hell Rael is up to -- but there's neither hooks nor true grandiosity here to make it interesting. That said, this still may be Kansas' most consistent set, outside of Point of Know Return. Take that for what you will.
- Release Date:
- Epic Europe
Performance CreditsKansas Primary Artist
Kerry Livgren Guitar,Keyboards
Steve Walsh Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vibes
Phil Ehart Percussion,Drums
Dave Hope Bass,Bass Guitar
Toye LaRocca Vocals
Cheryl Norman Vocals
Robbie Steinhardt Violin,Viola,Vocals,Background Vocals
Rich Williams Guitar
Technical CreditsKansas Arranger,Producer
Kerry Livgren Composer
Steve Walsh Composer
Phil Ehart Composer
Jeff Glixman Producer
Dave Hope Composer
Robbie Steinhardt Composer
Rich Williams Composer
Bill "Bleu" Evans Engineer
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Kansas presents classical shaded music,updated in progressive rock.
'Leftoverture' is both Kansas' best album, and arguably America's finest prog-rock album too (something Dream Theater might attest too, themselves being the finest prog of the '90s to today). When I first heard the album, it sounded huge, majestic, powerful and all so musical -- at once an American band absorbed the best of the British prog masters (Yes, Genesis, ELP), with the best of kick-butt home-grown hard rock (Allman Bros, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith) and of course, some Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure. "Carry On Wayward Son" ranks as one of the best FM rock songs ever, and in a way, like Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", is majestic, grand, and somewhat over the top and pompous ("BH" moreso than "COWS") but a seriously rockin' song that still gets you going when you first hear the first seconds of it. "The Wall" is an emotional highpoint, "Magnus Opus" is in league with any lengthy Yes or Genesis epic from 'Fragile' or 'Selling England By the Pound'. (For a great source of information on prog rock's history, 1967 to 1979, see www.strawberrybricks.com -- 'Leftoverture' can be found under '1976', in fact, Kansas represents the first American album entry)
one of the best album's of the seventies. I place it right up there with, Boston's 'Boston' Fleetwood mac's 'Rumors' The Eagles 'Hotel California'
This music is great. I am a big kansas fan. I love the sound of this music, it seems its better than the music thats out today.