I first came across the music of Kansas on an old episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test where a track from their then new album, ‘Kansas’, was played. The song in question was Journey From Mariabronn, this was played against the backdrop of a black and white cartoon and I was very taken with it.
It was not until a few years later that I managed to acquire a copy of that album and enjoy the fine music that its grooves contained. Quite a few years later I came across their new album via a promotional vinyl version of ‘Point of Know Return’ with its fabulous sleeve of a ship falling over the edge of the world.
Kansas have been one of my favourite American bands since those early days, I even used to have the ‘Point of Know Return’ album cover on an etched mirror that sadly is no more. Along with Styx and Journey these were the holy trinity of American Rock for me, I still relish any new material that Kansas make and I am eager to see them live again having first seen them at Walt Disney World in the early 1990’s when Steve Morse was in the band, as was Steve Walsh, both of whom are no longer involved. Nowadays the band is fronted by Ronnie Platt (ex-Shooting Star, another class US band in a similar style to Kansas). This live album brings the whole of the ‘Point of Know Return’ album together with some other deep cuts from the extensive catalogue that the band have developed in the last 47 years. Many of the songs have been staples in their live shows since the album was first released in 1977, but here you get the whole album live in one show played in the original order.
If you like Kansas then this album will not disappoint for it shows very clearly how excellent the calibre of material the ‘Point of Know Return’ album contained then and how well that it still stands up today, over 40 years after it was originally recorded. Ronnie Platt is in very fine voice throughout, okay there may be a few missed or muffled notes but, overall, this stands good comparison to the version on earlier live Kansas releases and can stand proudly next to all those albums.
The album has a good selection of some lesser performed Kansas material including songs from the ‘Freak of Nature’ album from the 1990s and a rare outing for Two Cents Worth from the ‘Masque’ album of 1975 and a couple of more recent tracks from ‘The Prelude Implicit’ and ‘The Absence of Presence’, cramming 22 slices of distilled Kansas magic onto 2 CDs.
The album falls into 3 sections, Tracks 1-8 on CD 1 are the deep cuts, CD 2 Tracks 1-10 are the whole of the ‘Point of Know Return – Live & Beyond’ in order, Track 11 is Carry on My Wayward Son, 12 and 13 are acoustic versions of People of The South Wind and Refugee and the album concludes with an acoustic version of Lonely Wind from the first Kansas album from 1974.
Throughout you get fabulous and meticulous musicianship and exemplary performances and songs that are both meaningful and memorable and with fabulous melodies running through their veins. Kansas are not getting any younger so any chance to hear this band firing on all cylinders is an opportunity that should be embraced, music of this calibre deserves to be heard by all that will listen.
I especially like the reverence with which these classic songs are treated and respected, it is very fitting, and you can tell how much the band appreciate and value this momentous period of their history. This album reflects that with the care and diligence with which they perform these songs once again.
The artwork is as good as that which accompanied the release of the ‘Leftoverture – Live and Beyond’ and fans are in for a real treat. It is a pity that the show was not recorded for posterity on film as that would be something special and much sought after by many fans like me. My shelf is awaiting the arrival of this CD Set in the very near future where it will join the other masterpieces of this truly legendary US Band.
Released 28th May, 2021
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