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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kansas

Live at the Whiskey

Review by Gary Hill

A couple of these tracks were featured on the Works in Progress album from Kansas. Since I reviewed them with that release I’m including those track by tracks here for the sake of consistency. This is a strong live album that shows a bit rawer rock and roll sound for the band. It’s still got plenty of trademark American progressive rock ala Kansas, but there’s a bit of a snarl to it. It’s a strong album worthy of inclusion in any Kansas collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Introduction

Showing that Kansas has a flair for truth in advertising, this one minute plus piece is sound effects and the gathering fury of instruments that creates a dramatic introduction for the opening piece and the whole show.

“Howlin' At The Moon” from “Magnum Opus”
An evocative musical powerhouse, this is such a killer track. It might only be one part of a larger piece, but it holds up as its own song quite well. It is short, though, at just under a minute and a half.
Paradox
One of Kansas’ most purely progressive rock numbers, this is another screamer. It’s hard rocking, challenging and powerful. There are plenty of twists and turns built into it. Each instrument seems to find its chance to shine as this killer jam progresses.
Point Of Know Return –
This is the first track on the set that really feels different than the original, mostly in the vocal presentation. It’s still a strong and catchy number that has a lot of progressive rock built into it, though. They build a little singalong section and an almost 1980’s metal section into the track that seems to not hold up that well, though.
Song For America
Another classic Kansas cut that has plenty of progressive rock built into it; this is a real killer track. There’s a smoking hot violin driven instrumental section in this number.
The Wall
This progressive rocker is another that has a number of alterations and variations. It comes across as closer to the original than some of the others in terms of the vocal delivery. It’s always been a personal favorite and I really like this live telling a lot.
Hold On
While this track was always one of Kansas’ more pop oriented, it still has its charms. In fact, this version is one of the strong points of the set based on the powerfully evocative feeling.
Dust In The Wind
The classic Kansas ballad, this live telling is strong. One could argue that the track suffers from being overplayed, but still, this holds up well.
Miracles Out Of Nowhere
Here’s another cut that’s very much in keeping with the progressive rock side of Kansas. It has some screaming moments and yet it also has some intricate and very symphonic movements, too. This is another strong cut and this live rendition is quite exceptional.
Mysteries & Mayhem
With a smoking classic (or should I say "klassic?") Kansas sound, this one is a great introduction. It has some elements that feel like other songs by the band, but still manages a unique tone of its own. It drops back to ambience powered by the violin at about mid-song. This works up ever slowly, perhaps in a means of creating the "mysteries" portion of the title. The violin does solo in a mysterious and dramatic manner in the backdrop for quite some time. They eventually launch back out into more trademark Kansas jamming and a fiery instrumental segment.
Portrait

This melodic rocker is certainly one of the band's better-known numbers. They put together a very strong rendition here.

Carry On Wayward Son
The first track that brought Kansas to the attention of the masses, this fiery rocker has all the prog rock intensity and hard edged fury that caused it to garner them such adoration and attention. This is an excellent live telling.
Down The Road
This rocker is really a southern rock tune with some Kansas prog built into the arrangement.
Bonus Track: Lonely Street
As is referenced in the title here, this is a bonus track. It’s a more fiery rocker and is quite cool. It does have some mellower sections, but is less progressive rock oriented than some of the other music on show here.
 
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