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Kansas - 1974 Kansas

ARTIST: Kansas
ALBUM: Kansas
LABEL: Kirshner
SERIAL: KZ 32817
YEAR: 1974
CD REISSUE: 2004, Sony Legacy, EK 92577 (with bonus track)


LINEUP: Kerry Livgren - guitars, piano, organ, moog, backing vocals * Steve Walsh - piano, organ, fender piano, congas, lead & backing vocals * Rich Williams - electric & acoustic guitars * Robby Steinhardt - violin, lead & backing vocals * Dave Hope - bass, backing vocals * Phil Ehart - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Can I Tell You * 02 Bringing It Back * 03 Lonely Wind * 04 Belexes * 05 Journey From Mariabronn * 06 The Pilgrimage * 07 Apercu * 08 Death Of Mother Nature Suite


After years of struggle and playing nearly every two-bit watering hole in the Midwest, the Kansas debut arrived on store shelves in March of 1974 and American progressive rock was never the same. Its artwork came from a large mural in the Topeka state capital and the music was equally expansive, drawing from both the blues and classical music and presented in a way never heard before.

The Songs
Kerry Livgren in his book 'Seeds Of Change' expressed the album was recorded 'too hastily' and 'the production quality leaves much to be desired'. On the latter, I totally agree but what an astonishing debut it is considering this was a band with two faces. The hard rocking Steve Walsh and the spiritual Livgren made for strange bedfellows but the combination of boogie and prog found on this record works like a greasy wagon wheel. Opener 'Can I Tell You' is typical Kansas while Robby Steinhardt's violin rips it up on the fast-paced J.J. Cale cover 'Bringing It back'. Steve Walsh's plaintive 'Lonely Wind' is truly lovely although it's Livgren's progressive tunes, including a couple co-writes with Walsh that makes up the bulk of the record. Livgren has said song titles like the driving 'Belexes' had no meaning although lyrically he was very much inspired by Eastern thought and philosophy. 'Journey From Mariabronn' was influenced by an esoteric novel written by German philosopher and poet Hermann Hess although the album's cornerstone is its powerful finale 'Death Of Mother Nature Suite'. Featuring strong and at times angry lead vocals from Steinhardt, the songs environmental message comes through loud and clear from what was an ambitious young band. Classic stuff.

In Summary
Hitting the road with Mott The Hoople, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Jefferson Starship and oddballs Captain Beefheart; 1974 was a busy year for Kansas and although the album barely charted, the best was yet to come.

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#1 | Explorer on March 02 2015 19:00:56
Kansas and Mott the Hoople on the same bill,what a show that must of been.
#2 | Eric on March 02 2015 19:51:29
They replaced Queen on the Mott tour when Brian May fell Ill. Aerosmith was also on some of those shows as a triple bill.
#3 | gerard on March 03 2015 21:40:13
Not my favorite Kansas album by far, but I still like this quite a bit. And Livgren's book is great reading! Saw Kansas live a few months ago (one of Steve Walsh' last shows with the band). An uninspired and brief show, but still great to have seen them with Walsh, a legend.
#4 | RobLynott on April 21 2015 13:35:37
A good start for a fantastic group. 'Journey From Mariabronn' is still one of my all time favourite Kansas tracks!

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