Sunday, January 17, 2021

Kansas- Every Album, Every Song by Kevin Cummings (Sonicbond Publishing)

When it comes to Prog, Kansas is one of my favourite bands.  I think every album they made in the 70s was great. They pretty much lost it like so many bands in the 80s but the last few years the band has come full circle with some strong material once again.  Anyway, this is a huge series by Sonic Bond Publishing and includes many bands (Queen, ELP, Iron Maiden, UFO, Jethro Tull, Genesis, BOC, Gentle Giant, Dream Theatre, etc). The only other one I have is the one on Hawkwind.  This book is written by a real expert on Kansas, as Kevin has worked closely with Kerry Livgren, running his web site, transcribing his music and preparing Kerry’s music for the world.  After a bit of a introduction to the band, he goes straight into the albums and you get the statistics of highest chart place (sadly only the US. Would have been nice to see how it did in other countries like the UK), release date, length, etc…  For each album there is a bit of an intro about what was going on with the band, if members changed (they did a lot in the 80s and 90s), a bit about the tours, and finally the artwork. One very special addition is for several songs on most of the records he breaks it down into many sections describing key changes, tempo info, solo breakdowns, hints and themes that might connect to previous songs or classical music, etc.. 

Kansas was a super hard working band in the 70s as were many and knocked out 3 amazing records in their first 18 months on Kirshner Records!!  The highest chart position was still only 57 and eventually all three albums would go gold (sales of greater than 500,000).  It was not until Leftoverture in 1976 that the band would have a major hit and the record would reach #5, with only Point of no Return beating it at #4. It was all down hill as far as the charts from this point. Although they did have 3 more top 20 records!! 

The album Somewhere to Elsewhere (2000) was a unique album in the catalog as this was the first time since Audio Visions (1980) that the 6 original members appeared on an album together again, albeit for only 1 songs (Billy Greer played most of the bass on the record, and original bassist Dave Hope, only on 2 songs.  I did not know much about the band in 90s and afterwards although I did see them in 1992, when they were a 5 piece with only one guitar player and then twice at Sweden Rock Festival in the 2000’s.  

The band released a new record in 2020 and that is also described here. At this point in time the band is down to only two original members (Phil Ehart- Drums and Rich Williams- Guitar), both of who have played on every album but contributed very little to the songwriting. IT is not all new folks though as Billy Greer (Bass) has been with the band since the 80s and David Ragsdale (violin), also played with the band in the 90s. 

Overall, if you are a fan of Kansas you will learn quite a lot about the band and the albums and certainly the details of every song.  Cool book. It also includes some rare colour pictures of the band in a small section in the middle of the book. Great job Kevin. 

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