Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A Musical And Lyrical History Of Kansas

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"Every great composer I've ever looked up to has always refused to let the ways of the world dictate what their art would be."
-Kerry Livgren

The origin of Kansas dates back to the early seventies and the merging of two Topeka based bands, Saratoga and White Clover.  The union brought the best members of both bands together, with the end result a local "super group" in which guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren (Saratoga) and drummer Phil Ehart and bassist Dave Hope (both White Clover) performed together for the first time.  When the issue of choosing a name came up, the new seven piece unit decided upon Kansas, a title which reflected not only the bands background but where it came from as well.  The first incarnation of Kansas proceeded to tour the Midwest extensively over the next year with its main claim to fame being opening for The Doors in New Orleans.  Several disappointing experiences, however, helped lead to the bands demise.  When Kansas I was booked at an outdoor pop festival with Deep Purple in Albuquerque, for instance, the event was broke up before they could perform when a group of bikers incited a riot.  Musical differences, in the end, caused the group to split apart: Ehart and Hope wanted to go in a more conventional hard rock direction, while Livgren desired to pursue an "orchestral jazz-rock-classical sound".

After the breakup of Kansas I in 1970, the members from White Clover reverted to their original moniker while those from Saratoga continued on under the name Kansas.  (They were able to use the moniker due to trademarking it.)  The four original members of Saratoga - Livgren, keyboardist Don Montre, vocalist Lynn Meredith and keyboardist Dan Wright - were soon joined by drummer Zeke Low, bassist Rod Mikinski and saxophonist/flutist John Bolton.  The end result was the second version of Kansas that, for the most part, was a musical continuation of Kansas I in which the band tried to be as unorthodox and original as it possibly could.  Kansas II proved to be a very prolific songwriting period for Livgren who literally "cranked out songs nonstop".  Many fell by the wayside while others made their way onto the demo tapes the band recorded between 1971-73.  It was also during this period that Livgren started to get into various forms of mysticism and Eastern philosophies that increasingly influenced both his music and his lyrics.  Success, however, ultimately eluded the band.  Several small labels displayed interest in signing Kansas II but in the end it was never able to land that coveted recording contract. 
 
Ehart and Hope, in the meantime, joined forces with keyboardist/vocalist Jeff Glixman and guitarist/vocalist Warren Eisenstein to put together the second version of White Clover.  With the bands line up temporarily set, the four soon recruited a second keyboardist/vocalists by the name of Steve Walsh.  When Glixman and Eisenstein departed over musical differences, it opened the door for guitarist Rich Williams and violinist Robbie Steinhardt to join the group.  At this point, Ehart approached Livgren in early 1973 about returning to White Clover, which was in need of another writer and a second guitar player.  With the breakup of Kansas II appearing inevitable, Livgren made the tough decision to jump to the White Clover camp and, as a result, Kansas II subsequently folded with its members going their separate ways.

Livgren, Ehart, Hope, Walsh, Williams and Steinhardt went on to become the most successful and well known of the three versions of Kansas.  (The band decided to drop the psychedelic sounding name White Clover and adapt the Kansas moniker since it was now available.)  Similar to the two earlier incarnations of the band, Kansas proceeded to tour the Midwest until a demo the band recorded - prior to Livgren joining the group - made its ways into the hands of Kirshner Records president Don Kirshner.  (Yes, this is the same Don Kirshner who created The Monkees.)  Kirshner was so impressed with what he heard he sent Wally Gold, the labels vice president, to catch a showcase performance of Kansas at The Opera House in the little town of Ellinwood Kansas.  One of the reasons the band was able to pack the house was the fact they advertised free beer would be offered to all who came and saw them perform.  Gold went away equally impressed - by the band and not the beer - and recommended to Kirshner that he sign Kansas.  The rest, as they say, is history.

On a side note, you really have to feel for Eisensten and Glixman who, for a lack of better words, literally had a brush with fame and fortune.  However, it is worth pointing out that the band did call Glixman back to help produce Song For America (with Wally Gold), Masque, Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return.

Kansas - Kansas

Kansas  65%

It was the summer of 1973 when the members of Kansas boarded a plane for New York in order to begin work on their self-titled debut album.  Kansas sounds a bit rough around the edges production wise - the band was rushed in the studio and most of its tracks were done in one take - but it helped serve to showcase Kansas' potential.  "Can I Tell You", with its catchy melody, helped get the band signed, while Walsh came through with a very fine piano based ballad in "Lonely Wind" that features lyrics with an almost Gospel-like feel:

When I'm needin' a friend I can talk to the wind
God I am sure that I found Him
Sometimes He seems to be the only one beside me
Who can feel the Lord's breath all around him?

The album, however, hits its stride with Livgren penned numbers such as upbeat hard rocker "Belexes" and the sweeping progressive rock of "Journey From Mariabronn", "Apercu" and "Death Of Mother Nature Suite". 
 
At this early stage in his career Livgren was well on his way on a spiritual journey, a particular best reflected on "Apercu", a track dealing with the concept of reincarnation.  The song at first raises a question:

Have we done it all before, is there really so much more?

But in the end answers in the affirmative:

While I slept I had a vision, I remember
You were with me
We have done it all before, in our minds behind the door

As its title implies, "Death Of Mother Nature Suite" talks about man's disregard for and exploitation of the environment:

We've strangled all her trees and starved her creatures
There's poison in the sea and air
But worst of all we've learned to live without her
We've lost the very meaning of our lives
And now she's gonna die

Kansas peaked at #174 on the charts before achieving gold status on 09/12/95.  In 2004 the album was remastered and re-issued with a previously unreleased live version of "Bringing It Back" as a bonus track.

Kansas - Song For America

Song For America  75%

Following the release of its debut in 1974, Kansas proceeded to hit the road, opening for The Kinks in Phoenix and never looking back.  In the words of Phil Ehart, "We just never came home, and when we did get home, we had to record an album."  Without the benefit of a hit single behind it, the group had to use touring as a means to an end in order to develop its following and expand upon its own unique audience.  As a matter of fact, Kansas' follow up effort, Song For America, was literally written on the road.  The album, nevertheless, combined stronger production values and tighter and more mature compositions with the bands standout versatility.  After getting things going with the southern boogie of "Down The Road", Kansas immediately launches into the ambitious progressive rock of its 10-minute title track.  And they pull it off without a hitch.  Amazing.  In addition to the title track in question, Livgren contributed several noteworthy compositions in the orchestral "Lamplight Symphony" and the 12-minute epic "Incomudro-Hymn To The Atman".  Walsh was not idle either, helping to compose the blues rocker "Lonely Street" and upbeat "The Devil Game".
 
The lyrics to "The Devil Game", similar to "Lonely Wind", leave you scratching your head as to the "source" of their origin:

Don't take the devil's dare, don't gamble when the game aint fair
Lock and bolt the doors, can't let the devil use you anymore

Take, he will take, he will take, give him nothing he'll take, he will take
He will take, he will give nothing but he'll take
Pray, for devils have no reason, Satan waits to curse your ways

After reading the lyrics here and to those on "Lonely Wind", I cannot help but be perplexed at Walsh's refusal to sing Livgren's Christian lyrics during the bands Vinyl Confessions era.  (More on that later.)

"Incomudro-Hymn To The Atman" continued to reflect Livgren's ongoing spiritual search:

We only catch a glimpse of all the life that is around,
The man is not alive who knows the value of his soul,
And when our lives are pulled away, there's more to fill the hole
I wonder what you'd think if all the changes didn't come,
For growing old is only going back to where you're from

Livgren sums things up in his excellent 1983 autobiography Seeds Of Change:

     This song illustrates the syncretistic approach I took to religion  
     as it seeks to combine elements of Hinduism with those of Zen  
     Buddhism.  "The man is not alive who knows the value of his soul"  

  1. this is the atman, valuable because it can be merged
  2. according to Eastern thought, with the universal soul, the all-that-is.1

The emotional "Lamplight Symphony" portrays an elderly widow who encounters the ghostly apparition of his departed wife who tells him that someday they will be together again:

He felt another presence in the room
He was filled with fear but filled with joy he arose
And turned to face the image that he knew
She stood before him and her hand reached out for his
A peaceful light shone in her eyes
She said she'd come to soothe him, and someday they'd be one

Song For America eventually climbed to #57 on the charts before going gold on 06/20/80.  The album was re-issued in 2004 with bonus material including the radio single edit of the title track in addition to a live version of "Down The Road".

Kansas - Masque

Masque  80%

Masque, Kansas' third full length album in only a year and a half, finds the band dealing with increased pressure from the record company to move in a more commercial direction while, at the same time, sticking to their principals of artistic freedom.  Don Kirshner sums things up best: "Guys, I'd like to get something on the radio that's a little shorter than twelve minutes."  The Walsh penned album opener, for example, "It Takes A Woman's Love (To Make A Man)" was the bands attempt to deliver a "hit single".  Nevertheless, it is Livgren who comes through with much of of the albums stronger material, composing the immaculate "Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel)", the majestic progressive rock of "The Pinnacle" and catchy "Child Of Innocence".  Walsh, at the same time, helped pen the seven minute semi-ballad "All Around The World" in addition to the up-tempo "Mysteries And Mayhem".

Lyrically, on Masque Livgren's deals with several dark issues such as death, nightmares and his inability to find meaningful answers to the dilemmas of life.  "Child Of Innocence", for example, talks about the inescapable reality of death and how people view death as something that only happens to others: 
    
Sweet child of innocence
Living in the present sense
Father Time will take his toll
Rack your body and steal your soul

I will comfort you, take your hand and see you through
I will take you through the door

Though your weary and afraid
Still you try to free my blade
Come and walk in my new land
If you'll only take my hand

Livgren again sheds further light on the subject in Seeds Of Change:

     The angel of death sings this song to the child of innocence, and
     this is especially obvious in the chorus.  The "blade"
     specifically refers to the image of the grim reaper.  I often
     found myself dwelling on this negative and ominous theme, well-
     summarized in the last verse.  The truth of this song was  
     undeniable, but again I had nowhere to turn.2

On "The Pinnacle" Livgren attempts to grasp at what he thought was unattainable:

I stood where no man goes, and conquered demon foes
With Glory and Passion no longer in fashion
The Hero breaks his blade

Cast the Shadow long that I may hide my face
And in this cloak of darkness the world I will embrace
In all that I endure, of one thing I am sure
Knowledge and Reason change like the Season
A Jester's Promenade

Once again, I will let him expand upon the matter:

     I found that I was moving from one philosophy to another, but
     nothing could rid me of the emptiness I felt or provide real
     meaning and satisfaction.  "Knowledge and Reason change  
     like the Season.  A Jester's Promenade."  The promenade of human
     philosophies and religions was beginning to look like a huge,
     insipid joke.3

Masque, which peaked at #70 in early 1976 prior to achieving gold status on 12/16/77, was re-issued in 2001 with a rehearsal recording of "Child Of Innocence" and a demo version of "It's You" as bonus tracks.

Kansas - Leftoverture

Leftoverture  95%

Kansas reached its creative and artistic zenith on its fourth full length release Leftoverture.  Continuing to face the record company’s demands to commercialize its sound, Kansas determined to move in its own musical direction and, ironically, many of those commercial elements started to surface in the process.  This, of course, is best reflected in the catchy "Carry On My Wayward Son", a song which not only became the bands first bona fide hit but helped the album achieve triple platinum status.  With Walsh suffering from a case of writers block, Livgren was forced to take on much of the albums songwriting duties and delivered some of the finest compositions of his career, with the hard rocking "What's On My Mind", beautiful but haunting "Miracle Out Of Nowhere" and creative "The Wall" ranking among the most noteworthy.  "Opus Insert" stands out with its ingenious time changes while the acoustic based "Cheyenne Anthem" is, well, aptly named.  The album ends stronly to the eight minute jam session "Magnum Opus" in which each member of the band is given a songwriting credit.

Lyrically, "Carry On My Wayward Son" is almost prophetic in light of Livgren's conversion to Christianity which was still several years away:

Now your life's no long empty
Surely heaven waits for you

The song actually ties into "The Pinnacle" in that it also talks about the unattainable but with an added element of hope.  Livgren's goal seemed inaccessible but he felt a deep hunger to "carry on" and continue his search:

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher but I flew too high

Carry on my wayward son,
For there'll be peace when you are done

"The Wall" best summarizes Livgren's thinking at the time:

The treasures that I seek are waiting on the other side
There's more than I can measure in the treasure of the love that I can find
And though it's always been with me, I must tear down the Wall and let it be
All I am and all that I was ever meant to be, in harmony
Shining true and smiling back at all who wait to cross
THERE IS NO LOSS

He provides further detail in Seeds Of Change:

     Looking back, I regard the lyrics to "The Pinnacle" and "The Wall"
     as the best I have written.  Somehow the wall was in me, and I did
     not have the power to remove this barrier to the depths of joy and
     harmony I so desperately sought.4

"Miracles Out Of Nowhere" also reflects Livgren's spiritual search:

Down from a gleaming heaven, I can hear the voices call
When you comin' home now, son, the World is not for you

Here I am, I'm sure to see a sign
All my life I knew that it was mine
It's always here, it's always there
It's just love and miracles out of nowhere

"Cheyenne Anthem" focuses on the predicament and world view of the American Indian:

From the mountains to the sun, Life has only just begun
We wed this land and pledge our souls to meet its end
Life has only just begun
Here my people roam the earth, in the kingdom of our birth
Where the dust of all our horses ride the earth
We are mighty on the earth, on the earth

Leftoverture climbed to #5 on the charts, going gold on 01/25/77 and achieving platinum status in less than two months on 03/15/77.  The single "Carry On My Wayward Son" peaked at #11 and to this day remains an FM radio staple.  The 2001 re-issue of the album also includes live versions of "Carry On My Wayward Son" and "Cheyenne Anthem" as bonus tracks.

Kansas - Point Of Know Return

Point Of Know Return  90%

With the momentum of Leftoverture behind it, Kansas was able to embark on its first tour as a headlining act, the band at this point reaching a level of success that exceeded all expectation.  As a result, the pressure was on to live up to what it already accomplished.  In other words, Kansas did not want to become another "one hit wonder".  Fortunately, Point Of Know Return, the bands second straight triple platinum release, finds Kansas maintaining that same high level of artistic achievement.  Walsh, having recovered from his case of writers block, co-authored the albums stunning title track with Ehart and Steinhardt and joins forces with Livgren on "Lightning's Hand" and "Closet Chronicles".  Point Of Know Return, nevertheless, is best known for the Livgren penned acoustic based ballad "Dust In The Wind", a song which turned into the bands biggest hit and ultimately reached #6 on the Billboard charts.  Other notable Livgren compositions include the stunning "Portrait (He Knew)", guitar driven "Spark Of The Tempest" and semi-ballad "Nobody's Home".  "Hopelessly Human" ends the album in very fine progressive rock fashion.   

On "Dust In The Wind" Livgren was grasping form something deeper, the track a reflection of his search for something eternal that would not pass away:

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless Sea
All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind

Don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, all your money won't another minute buy

"Spark Of The Tempest", a song about totalitarianism, was written after Livgren read George Orwell's 1984:

Your future is managed and your freedom's a joke
You don't know the difference as you put on the yoke
The less that you know the more you fall into place
A cog in the wheel there is no soul in your face

Big brother is watching and he likes what he sees
A world for the taking when he's ready to say
The King and the Queen are gone, each piece is the same
The difference between us is part of the game

"Nobody's Home" describes a friendly extraterrestrial that arrives at earth only to find it devastated by nuclear war and mankind extinct.  Hence, literally nobody is home:

I came to learn perhaps to teach but I can tell somehow
The world I was sent to reach has got no future now
Across the galaxy to spread the word and no one heard
I came for nothing
I'm alone and Nobody's Home

Livgren paints a musical portrait of Albert Einstein on "Portrait (He Knew)":

He was in search of an answer
The nature of what we are
He was trying to do it a new way
He was as bright as a star
But nobody understood him
"His numbers are not the way"
He was lost in the deepest enigma
That no one's unraveled today

On Prime Mover, the final album with his post Kansas band AD, Livgren re-recorded the song and re-worked the lyrics so that they would point to Christ as opposed to Einstein.

Finally, regarding the lyrics to "Hopelessly Human" Livgren has the following to say:

     My attempt to amalgamate a variety of religious views into one
     somewhat coherent whole comes through fairly clearly in these  
     lyrics:5

All is rhythm, all is unity
I am laughing, as it's meant to be
Just amusing, I am using the
Word was given, making harmony
Moving slowly, dancing aimlessly
Endless circle, turning fearlessly
Resurrected, falling down again
Introspected, I'm just stating my views
Now you can choose, what do you feel
Is it for real this time

Point Of Know Return proved to be Kansas' biggest selling album, peaking at #4 on the charts in addition to reaching gold status on 10/11/77 and platinum on 11/29/77.  The singles "Dust In The Wind" and "Point Of Know Return" rose to #6 and #28 on the charts respectively.  The album was re-issued in 2001 with a remix of "Portrait (He Knew)" and a live version of "Sparks Of The Tempest" as bonus tracks.

Kansas - Monolith

Monolith  70%

Having reached the pinnacle (no pun intended) of its success with Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return, Kansas returned in 1979 with Monolith, an album that, while featuring a number of very fine moments, proves a somewhat uneven effort.  Standing out with the catchy single "People Of The South wind", Monolith introduced a heavier and more guitar driven side to the band, a direction it would maintain on its follow up efforts Audio-visions, Vinyl Confessions and Drastic Measures.  Livgren continues to be at the top of his game with the stylish "On The Other Side" and the guitar driven "Glimpse Of Home", while Walsh makes his presence felt with two gems in "Angels Have Fallen" and "How My Soul Cries Out For You".  In the end, however, the overall feeling I get from Monolith is that it lacks the consistency of Masque, Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return.  For example, it is not uncommon to find myself skipping over several of the albums closing tracks such as "Away From You" and "Stay Out Of Trouble".

Over the years Livgren had been driven by a desire to discover the true source of meaning and purpose; however, on "On The Other Side" he had nothing more to say about these matters:

The empty page before me now, the pen is in my hand
The words don't come so easy but I'm trying

Though I've said it all before, I'll say it once again (one more time)
Everybody needs something to believe in

Livgren's Urantia world view at the time influenced "A Glimpse Of Home", a song about Christ but not the Christ of the Bible but rather that of The Urantia Book: 

When I was very young so many songs were sung
So much wasted time on an uphill climb
But you were always there, a feeling in the air
There was nothing to fear you were so near
Now you are here once again
As I stand in your presence
I can feel the quiet patience of your gaze
Like an old superstition
You are haunting all my dreams and waking days

All my life I knew you were waiting, revelation anticipating
All is well, the search is over, let the truth be known
Let it be shown (Give me A Glimpse of Home)

Again, Livgren sums it up best:

     It's tremendously ironic for me to look back at these lyrics.  I
     was convinced that "All is well, the search is over," and that my
     previous years of "wasted time" would now be replaced by years of
     spiritual fulfillment.  How could I have known that only a few
     months after I wrote this song I would come to meet the true
     source of joy?  And yet the title turned out to be prophetic;
     I had only received a glimpse of home, though I thought at this
     time that I had arrived.6

Monolith topped out at #10 on the charts and was certified gold on 06/18/79.  "People Of The South wind" peaked out at #23.

Kansas - Audio-Visions

Audio-Visions  65%

It was on tour during the summer of 1979 that Livgren engaged in a series of theological debates with Jeff Pollard, the lead vocalist of Kansas' supporting act at the time Le Roux.  As a direct result of the influence of Pollard, who is a Christian, Livgren's spiritual journey came to an end when he made a decision for Christ.  He explains things best in Seeds Of Change:

     Unlike my previous religious experiences, my conversion was based
     on repentance from sin.  I finally understood that believing in
     Christ means more than intellectual assent; it means turning away
     from sin (repentance) and choosing to receive Christ's gift of
     salvation.  This time I knew my quest had reached an end- the
     years of searching were over.7

Livgren, at this point, wanted to record a solo album communicating a Christian message to those taking seriously the spiritual matters he previously wrote about.  As a result, he proceeded to compose eleven new songs: Seven made their way onto his 1980 solo effort Seeds Of Change and the remaining four on the new Kansas album Audio-Visions.  "Curtain Of Iron" and "No One Together", the stronger of the four, move in a more progressive rock direction, while "Relentless" is an upbeat hard rocker and "Hold On" a well done acoustic laced ballad.  "Don't Open Your Eyes" and the Walsh penned ballad "Back Door" both hold up with their sgrong melodies.  Similar to Monolith, however, Audio-Visions is also on the inconsistent side in that I find myself skipping over a few too many tracks. 

"Relentless" is autobiographical in portraying Livgren's "relentless" pursuit of God:

In a single timeless moment
When the old was cast away
The new was born into a world of simple joy
And my life is still for living
Though its' seen through different eyes
And the knowledge of the truth's
A burden easy to bear

A literal and symbolic meaning is communicated on "Curtain Of Iron":

As the power grows, darkness spreading
Hope is still alive, though were dreading
What the future holds, no more need to
Fear what all men face
Only good can win the race

See the pages as they turn
Never will the children learn
Born as a prisoner in a curtain of iron
Never will the pages turn

Livgren goes into further detail regarding the matter in Seeds Of Change:

     On the first level, it is about the Iron Curtain, a huge barrier
     between freedom and oppression.  On the second level, this curtain
     is symbolic of the spiritual barrier between man and God.  Just
     like a curtain of iron, sin stands as a wall that separates man
     from his Creator.  But this wall is broken down when a person
     finds forgiveness in Christ.8

"No One Together" details how only when Christ comes to reign on earth will everything "come together":

The multitudes are searching, and wandering in vain
For what they seek cannot be found in men
The truth that lies before us now is plain for all to see
To grow without is not to grow within
For in the promise is a victory
To see the way that everything should be
To feel the joy that we were meant to know
We should have realized so long ago

We're all together, Harmony will abound
Look at each other, All that was lost is found
New situation if our direction's true
We're all together, Everyone is me and you

Ultimately topping out at #26 on the charts, Audio-Visions went gold in 1980, while the single "Hold On" made it to #40.

Kansas - Vinyl Confessions

Vinyl Confessions  85%

When Kansas was in the middle of its Audio-Visions tour in 1980 - with Le Roux again as its opening act - bassist Dave Hope became a believer through the direct influence of both Pollard and Livgren.  With the number of Christians in the band now at two, Kansas began work on its follow up effort, Vinyl Confessions, but a gulf started to form between Livgren and Hope and the rest of the group.  The problem came to a head when Livgren presented his new songs with lyrics reflective of his faith, and after Walsh refused to sing them, he departed the group and took his material with him.  Left with a five song void, Kansas auditioned several vocalists before settling on the talented John Elefante, bringing the number of believers in the band to three.

While Vinyl Confessions is renowned for the hit "Play The Game Tonight", it is perhaps Kansas' most guitar driven effort to date.  Livgren penned numbers such as "Fair Exchange", "Windows", "Borderline" and "Crossfire" rock with a consistent authority not always found on the bands past efforts.  Elefante proves himself an adept songwriter as well, composing two very fine upbeat hard rockers in "Face It" and "Play On" in addition to the stylish ballad "Chasing Shadows".
  
"Fair Exchange" details the totalitarianism of a computerized society and how people would be willing to give up their freedom in exchange for personal security and comfort:

Fair exchange for your freedom
Fair exchange for your life
Hail the new perfect order
Ending trouble and strife
No one can refuse our offer, it's a fair exchange

You're on file, our computer
Know's what's best for you
We will provide the solution, for the rest of you
Safety and peace, the terror will cease
Forget everything the fanatics tell you
Now you can worship the leader
All he wants is your soul

"Borderline" talks about people who are trying to stand in a middle ground when in fact there is no such thing:

So much indecision
Leaves you hanging in the air
You cant' remain forever 'cause there's nothing there
With one foot in the ocean
And the other on the shore
You'll be goin' nowhere, 'til you step on through the door

Livgren wrote the lyrics to "Play On", a song talking about his motivation for playing music:

All of my life, the wheels are turning
Drawing me near, to something that's burning bright
The music begins, a song that is new
Joining as one, it leads me to you

Morning star, has always been with me
Lifting me up, when I couldn't carry on
Turning the page to each song I write
Leading me on, on through the night

Of all the albums tracks, "Crossfire" does the best job of reflecting Livgren's faith:

But it all works out okay, if you give your life away
To the One who's holding fast, it's a promise that will last

And deep within the hardest heart
There is something there that knows
There's a hunger life can never fill
'Til you face the One who rose

Caught in a crossfire
In a world of darkness turn to the light

Vinyl Confessions managed to chart at #16, while "Play The Game Tonight" made it to #17.

Kansas - Drastic Measures

Drastic Measures  75% 

A legitimate case can be made that Drastic Measures is the "least Kansas sounding" of the bands first nine albums.  Not only is Steve Walsh out of the picture at this point, but so is violinist Robby Steinhardt.  And while new vocalist John Elefante performs capably, Kansas has lost much of the over-the-top progressiveness characteristic of its earlier work.  For example, with Livgren suffering from a case of writers block, Elefante plays a major role in the albums songwriting and, as a result, helps push the bands sound in a more straightforward hard rock direction.  Album opener "Fight Fire With Fire", which the band released as a single, is a high energy piece, while other notable Elefante penned numbers include the arena rockers "Going Through The Motions", "Get Rich" and "Don't Take Your Love Away".  Livgren, on the other hand, composes perhaps the albums finest and heaviest track in the six minute anthem "Mainstream". 

On "Mainstream" Livgren makes the albums strongest lyrical statement in expressing his feelings regarding the struggle between artistic integrity and blatant commercialism:

It's so predictable and everybody judges by the numbers that you sell
Just crank 'em out on the assembly line and chart 'em higher (higher, higher)
Just keep it simple boys it's gonna be alright as long as you're inside the
Mainstream, are we moving too far away
It is worth it if it doesn't pay
The centerline is status quo, it's
Mainstream

When Livgren was given a budget by CBS to record his second solo album, Time Line, he decided to work with a group of musicians he had already become acquainted with- vocalist/keyboardist Michael Gleason, vocalist Warren Ham and drummer Dennis Holt.  Dave Hope rounded out the project on bass.  As work on Time Line progressed, however, it became evident to all involved that what started out as a solo project was taking shape as a band.  Hence, with all its members committed believers, AD officially came together in 1983 and went on to record four full length studio albums.  At the time Time Line was recorded, Livgren had been in Kansas for thirteen years and; as a result, he was ready to do something different.  Hence, AD became a natural evolution of what came after Kansas for both Livgren and Hope.  With Livgren and Hope out of the picture, Elefante made the decision to leave Kansas as well, officially ending this chapter in the bands history.

Reference List
Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991).

Endnotes
1.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 87.
2.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 92.
3.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 94.  
4.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 97.
5.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 105. 
6.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 124-125. 
7.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 136-137.      
8.  Kerry Livgren and Kenneth Boa, Seeds Of Change (Nashville: Sparrow Press, 1991), 163.

 

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