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 quite the same.
Written by: Eric
SERIAL: KZ 32817
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
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
WEBLINKS: Site Link
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.
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. 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.
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.
Can I Tell You
Journey From Mariabronn