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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Kansas - 1988 In The Spirit Of Things
Kansas - 1988 In The Spirit Of Things

ARTIST: Kansas
ALBUM: In The Spirit Of Things
YEAR: 1988


LINEUP: Steve Walsh - vocals, keyboards * Steve Morse - guitars, vocals * Rich Williams - guitars * Billy Greer - bass, vocals * Phil Ehart - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ghosts * 02 One Big Sky * 03 Inside Of Me * 04 One Man One Heart * 05 House On Fire * 06 Once In A Lifetime * 07 Stand Beside Me * 08 I Counted On Love * 09 The Preacher * 10 Rainmaker * 11 T.O Witcher * 12 Bells Of Saint James


Here's another album which floated my boat in 1988. A band that I have grown up with, however their two late 80's albums 'Power (1986) and this one 'In The Spirit Of Things' are tremendously fulfilling for me. Whether it is the inclusion of guitar maestro Steve Morse, or their move to mainstream arena rock, as opposed to their earlier symphonic leanings - I feel that during this brief phase of the career, they hit upon a recipe that worked. Long time Kansas fans would probably say otherwise, but musically, this album entertains from start to finish. The shorter commercial material that Steve Walsh made with Streets is another of those reasons, plus the late 80's was a completely different environment than say ten years earlier when the band were peddling 'The Point Of Know Return' to audiences all over the USA. 'In The Spirit Of Things' is (for 1988) a modern sounding recording, wih big production and interesting lyrical themes. The album is based loosely on the 1951 flood of the small eastern Kansas town of Neosho Falls. The album features three producers: drummer Phil Ehart, Bob Ezrin and Greg Ladanyi.

The Songs
The opener 'Ghosts' is a dust-blown eulogy of a town that once was. My guess is that this song refers to the aforementioned Neosho Falls immediately after the flood, though in the here and now (2009), the small town is alive and well. A lovely haunting tune that sets the scene. As per the title, 'One Big Sky' is one big sounding song, with expansiveness as its operative word. 'Inside Of Me' has a commercial feel with a trademark Kansas chorus - Walsh's keyboard work on the bridge section reminds me of Keith Emerson, especially those parts played in sevenths. Moving into purist AOR territory is 'One Man One Heart, which has been covered by a slew of other people. One wonders whether MCA were asking the band to consider outside writers to generate a 'hit single'. Sounds somewhat similar to what Kirshner Records were asking prior to 'Leftoverture'. Cranking up the heat is 'House On Fire', sounding anything like classic Kansas! The band resort to a sweeping ballad for 'Once In A Lifetime' and the AOR-ish 'Stand Beside Me'. Taking some hints from British prog merchants Yes on the introduction to 'I Counted On Love', the band keep it easy on the ear, with majestic verses and shorter melodic choruses. The dual edged blitz of 'The Preacher' and 'Rainmaker' are for me the two highlights on the album. A dramatic pairing, which augments the albums theme of the 1951 flood. The finale 'Bells of Saint James' is a pompous affair where Walsh and Greer build some awesome harmony vocals.

In Summary
The album was a deemed a commercial failure, but despite all this, it remains a favourite of both the band and fans alike. It's unfortunate that MCA were caught in a artist conflict at the time of this albums release, though to their credit they did release a video for MTV ('Stand Beside Me'). It would ultimately be the band's last major label release. This would also be Steve Morse's last appearance with the band. He would go on to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, and is still a member of those Brit dinosaurs to this day. Though Kansas are still in operation (as at 2009), you should be able to find their back catalog easily enough. Start with this one!

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#1 | Nick C on February 09 2009 11:19:13
Fantastic album, up there with Leftoverture and POKR with regards to my fave Kansas albums. As mentioned it was a commercial failure and along with Freaks of Nature is kind of a lost gem as it were.
#2 | trillion1999 on October 20 2011 21:50:11
I love Rainmaker.
#3 | super80boy on June 14 2014 01:22:28
Big late 80's production qualities help this album along for sure. Side Two seems to be the stronger of the sides, with the stellar 'I Counted On Love', which should have been a single, as it's tailored made for radio with those big choruses. Of course there's their high charting single 'Stand Beside Me' and then the rousing rocker 'The Preacher' and then the sound effect progressive laden 'Rainmaker'.
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