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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Kansas

Freaks Of Nature

Review by Greg Olma

Kansas was looking to get back to their original sound.  They had lost their way from Vinyl Confessions to In The Spirit Of Things and many of the fans jumped ship due not only to line-up changes but also that the “Kansas sound” had gone missing.  Sure, there were songs here and there that still retained some elements, but for the most part, Kansas was a band by name only.  Well, Freaks Of Nature came on the scene in 1995 when grunge was all the rage and importunely, no one really paid much attention to Kansas or what they were up to.  Looking back, it may have been the wrong time to release this kind of music but it was a worthy CD and deserved better than it got.  Listening to it today, you can see a band working hard to recapture their sound and to a big degree, they achieve it.  This may never be a Kansas “classic” but it is a worthwhile record to have in your collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Can Fly

This is Kansas returning to form with a fast rocker that has all the Kansas elements we have come to love over the years.  David Ragsdale and his violin are all over this cut.  It is as if the band were trying really hard to prove to everyone that Kansas is back (and it works).

Desperate Times

Things slow down ever so slightly on another rocker of a tune.  The chorus has kind of an Irish feel but they prog it up for most of the song.  This is another return to form for a band that kind of lost their way.

Hope Once Again

For a ballad type of track, this cut is not bad but after the one-two punch of the first two songs, this is a bit of a letdown.  It’s not a bad tune but comparing it to the previous music, it is a bit weak.

Black Fathom 4

Now this is more like it.  The song is kind of heavy; as heavy as Kansas can get.  All those classic elements are present and they are used to the best effect.  There is even a great guitar solo complements of Richard Williams.  I would rate this piece as one of the better tracks of the latter day Kansas catalogue.

Under The Knife

This cut starts off as a nice moody song but then morphs into a typical Kansas rocker.  The intro is interesting and I wish they would have explored that a little further but it’s a good tune anyway.

Need

 All I can say is “What an odd track?”  This has more in common with Peter Gabriel than with Kansas.  I like it but it really doesn’t fit the rest of the album.

Freaks Of Nature

Now we get an intro that is a Deep Purple-ish sounding rocker but the rest of the cut is a bit off.  I don’t really like this tune other than the intro.  It is not one of their better compositions.

Cold Grey Morning

Kerry Livgren wrote this one (even though he doesn’t play on the record) and you can tell that right away by the Christian lyrics.  It is a great tune and the theme is not overtly religious.  It is the other heavy track on offer here.

Peaceful And Warm
It’s odd that they decided to end the CD on such a mellow tune but “Peaceful And Warm” still manages to bring some of that old Kansas vibe back.  I would have put this in the middle of the record but, aside from sequencing, it is a good tune and should keep older Kansas fans happy.
 
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