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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » Kansas - 1982 Vinyl Confessions
Kansas - 1982 Vinyl Confessions

ARTIST: Kansas
ALBUM: Vinyl Confessions
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1996, Legacy, ZK 66418 * 2011, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY095


LINEUP: John Elefante - vocals, keyboards * Rich Williams - guitars * Kerry Livgren - keyboards, guitars * Dave Hope - bass * Phil Ehart - drums * Robby Steinhardt - violin

TRACK LISTING: 01 Play The Game Tonight * 02 Right Away * 03 Fair Exchange * 04 Chasing Shadows * 05 Diamonds And Pearls * 06 Face It * 07 Windows * 08 Borderline * 09 Play On * 10 Crossfire


This album was a turning point for Kansas as it was their first effort without vocalist Steve Walsh, who had left to pursue a solo career. Walsh reportedly was frustrated by a shift towards shorter, more commercial material, which was almost foreign to the band during their pomp heyday in the 70's. Walsh himself was not happy with the insertion of Livgren's Christian influences into Kansas' lyrics, so the departure was amicable, if strained. Walsh was replaced by a twenty year old prodigy, John Elefante, whose vocal delivery was not far removed from Walsh himself. The lineup change didn't affect sales drastically as 'Vinyl Confessions' went top twenty, with the single 'Play The Game Tonight' hitting the same heights. Musically it was an extension of Kansas' regular violin driven pomp , with the sound leaning more towards mainstream AOR than ever before without compromising any heaviness.

The Songs
'Play The Game Tonight' was Kansas' most effective AOR statement to that point, featuring a host of dramatic chord changes and harmonies, very adult material, not the sort of music I would imagine teens in 1982 picking up on. More familiar ground is covered in 'Right Away', half pomp and AOR, the high point being the pre-chorus and some dynamic parping synths. Regrettably it fades out too early, interrupting a blazing melodic guitar solo. 'Fair Exchange' starts out as a heavy blues workout, even including harmonica, before melding into a commercial hook. A good mixture. 'Chasing Shadows' is the 'Dust In The Wind' of the album, with it's violin and piano dominated background working to stark effect. Simply outstanding. 'Diamonds And Pearls' with its sub-waltz bearings is not, even if there are some interesting sequences. 'Face It' has massive 70's leanings, especially in the opening bars, essentially very hard rock with a sax solo thrown in. 'Windows' conjures up a bit of speed, the keyboard-violin-guitar trade off solo passage a bit of mastery. The chorus of 'Borderline' takes some forgetting, dig those hand-claps as well. The keyboards of 'Play On' are a masterclass in atmospherics, fading out too early again, but 'Crossfire' is a satisfying conclusion, once again mixing AOR sensibilities with heavy rock aggression.

In Summary
Steve Walsh would form Streets soon after, their debut coming out in 1983, as did Kansas' 'Drastic Measures', another fine effort that would be their last until Walsh reformed a dormant Kansas in 1986. He brought Billy Greer (bass) from Streets with him, along with Steve Morse on guitar, to record 'Power'. Since then Kansas have continued to record and tour with different members, although the current lineup is almost the original group. For my money 'Vinyl Confessions' was their best album, the band re-energised by Elefante and showing plenty of purpose in their instrumental sections. The fact that they could utilise radio friendly melodies and still be unflinchingly hard rock inspired makes this a veritable feast.

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#1 | dangerzone on June 02 2013 02:59:03
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#2 | richardb on January 05 2014 14:10:53
Just giving this a spin now and it's a lot better ('Diamonds and Pearls' aside) than I remember..

Thumbs Up
#3 | gdazegod on April 26 2017 05:51:32
When you say that Livgren wasn't happy with Walsh's Christian influences into Kansas' lyrics.. wasn't this the other way around?
#4 | dangerzone on April 26 2017 14:21:43
It was mate. Maybe I didn't quite have my facts straight or got them mixed up. I wish I could remember that far back!
#5 | gdazegod on April 26 2017 22:04:40
I'll edit it then. I remember reading some stories about how the Non Christian and Christian factions of the band essentially caused the band to fracture. It must have been difficult on the 'Audio Visions' tour. Oh to be a fly on the wall.
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