After the third Kansas album ‘Masque’, the Kirshner label was looking for something different (a.k.a ‘a hit single’), stepping up to the plate was their fourth LP ‘Leftoverture’, an album that would move Kansas into the big league.
Written by: gdmonline
SERIAL: PZ 34224
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Steve Walsh – vocals, keyboards * Kerry Livgren – guitars, keyboards * Rich Williams – guitars * Robby Steinhardt – violin, viola, vocals * Dave Hope – bass * Phil Ehart – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Carry On Wayward Son * 02 The Wall * 03 What’s On My Mind * 04 Miracles Out Of Nowhere * 05 Opus Insert * 06 Questions Of My Childhood * 07 Cheyenne Anthem * 08 Magnum Opus – Father Padilla Meets The Perfect Gnat * 09 Magnum Opus – Howling At The Moon * 10 Magnum Opus – Man Overboard * 11 Magnum Opus – Industry On Parade * 12 Magnum Opus – Release The Beavers * 13 Magnum Opus – Gnat Attack
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Traditional prog rock fans still talk of Kansas’ first trio of albums in glowing terms. Released between 1974 and 1975, the flowing symphonic style of this Topeka based outfit didn’t set the world alight, and it was through heavy touring and superb musicianship that kept this lot above water.
After their third album ‘Masque’, the Kirshner label was looking for something different (a.k.a ‘a hit single’), otherwise the band’s career was on the line. Stepping up to the plate was their fourth LP ‘Leftoverture’, an album that would move Kansas into the big league.
Though ‘Leftoverture’ would enable Kansas to navigate their music through radio, the album is still for the most part – very progressive and symphonic. Most of the album was written by Kerry Livgren. It was reputed that through this period Steve Walsh found it difficult to write music for the album – so much of the work was left to Livgren.
There is a bit of something for everyone on ‘Leftoverture’. Of course every man and his dog would have heard the classic rock staple ‘Carry On Wayward Son’. A definite hit for the band, peaking at #11 on the charts. You can still hear this song today, and it still sounds as good as it did then.
‘The Wall’ is a gentler flowing tune, with spiritual overtones, something that would have a major influence on Livgren’s writing well into the 80’s. The keyboard solo toward the end is simply understated and beautiful
‘What’s On My Mind’ is a straight forward rocker with a shorter timeframe and harder riffing ‘Miracles Out Of Nowhere’ returns to their trademark symphonic sound, mixing acoustic instruments with Walsh’s lush keyboard backdrop.
Moving to Side Two, keyboards begin a slow fade to full volume on ‘Opus Insert’. This track is a mixed bag, tempo changes, electric and acoustic passages plus a mid sequence that features a marching beat offset by keys and a xylophone (or is it vibes?).
More keys dominate ‘Questions Of My Childhood’, if this was played in 2008 you could point the gun at a band like Presto Ballet for playing copycat. The haunting ‘Cheyenne Anthem’ is a plea and a message to the world about the plight of the North American Indians – specifically the Cheyenne people.
The closing ‘Magnum Opus’ is indeed well titled. The eight and half minute track is to Kansas what ‘Freebird’ is to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The musicianship through this track is astounding. Everyone plays to the max. The violin lines from Steinhardt are prominent, the keys/synths are all over this like a rash, and not to be outdone, the guitars of Livgren and Williams sting and jab when it’s appropriate. Overblown? Definitely!
The album would eventually sell millions over the years, and it kept their stay of execution for a few more years. ‘Leftoverture’ was quite notable for the visible change in direction compared to their earlier albums. Having now breached the popular divide, it was interesting to see which way they would head for their next album
‘Point Of Know Return’ surprisingly, was an album that was even more symphonic than its predecessor. Sure, it contained another huge hit with ‘Dust In The Wind’, but apart from that, the album was not resplendent with other potential chartbreakers. A good period for the band undoubtedly, read their other reviews, tag below.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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