Kansas - Vinyl Confessions

Kansas – Vinyl Confessions

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This album was a turning point for Kansas as it was their first effort without vocalist Steve Walsh, who had left to pursue a solo career.

Written by: Dangerzone

ARTIST: Kansas
ALBUM: Vinyl Confessions
LABEL: Epic
SERIAL: KIR 85714
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

LINEUP: John Elefante – vocals, keyboards * Rich Williams – guitars * Kerry Livgren – keyboards, guitars * Dave Hope – bass * Phil Ehart – drums * Robby Steinhardt – violin

TRACK LISTING: 01 Play The Game Tonight * 02 Right Away * 03 Fair Exchange * 04 Chasing Shadows * 05 Diamonds And Pearls * 06 Face It * 07 Windows * 08 Borderline * 09 Play On * 10 Crossfire

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

This album was a turning point for Kansas as it was their first effort without vocalist Steve Walsh, who had left to pursue a solo career. Walsh reportedly was frustrated by a shift towards shorter, more commercial material, which was almost foreign to the band during their pomp heyday in the 70’s.

Walsh himself was not happy with the insertion of Livgren’s Christian influences into Kansas’ lyrics, so the departure was amicable, if strained. Walsh was replaced by a twenty year old prodigy, John Elefante, whose vocal delivery was not far removed from Walsh himself.

The lineup change didn’t affect sales drastically as ‘Vinyl Confessions’ went top twenty, with the single ‘Play The Game Tonight’ hitting the same heights. Musically it was an extension of Kansas’ regular violin driven pomp , with the sound leaning more towards mainstream AOR than ever before without compromising any heaviness.

The Songs

‘Play The Game Tonight’ was Kansas’ most effective AOR statement to that point, featuring a host of dramatic chord changes and harmonies, very adult material, not the sort of music I would imagine teens in 1982 picking up on.

More familiar ground is covered in ‘Right Away’, half pomp and AOR, the high point being the pre-chorus and some dynamic parping synths. Regrettably it fades out too early, interrupting a blazing melodic guitar solo.

‘Fair Exchange’ starts out as a heavy blues workout, even including harmonica, before melding into a commercial hook. A good mixture. ‘Chasing Shadows’ is the ‘Dust In The Wind’ of the album, with it’s violin and piano dominated background working to stark effect. Simply outstanding.

‘Diamonds And Pearls’ with its sub-waltz bearings is not, even if there are some interesting sequences. ‘Face It’ has massive 70’s leanings, especially in the opening bars, essentially very hard rock with a sax solo thrown in. ‘Windows’ conjures up a bit of speed, the keyboard-violin-guitar trade off solo passage a bit of mastery.

The chorus of ‘Borderline’ takes some forgetting, dig those hand-claps as well. The keyboards of ‘Play On’ are a masterclass in atmospherics, fading out too early again, but ‘Crossfire’ is a satisfying conclusion, once again mixing AOR sensibilities with heavy rock aggression.

In Summary

Steve Walsh would form Streets soon after, their debut coming out in 1983, as did Kansas’ ‘Drastic Measures’, another fine effort that would be their last until Walsh reformed a dormant Kansas in 1986.

He brought Billy Greer (bass) from Streets with him, along with Steve Morse on guitar, to record ‘Power’. Since then Kansas have continued to record and tour with different members, although the current lineup is almost the original group.

For my money ‘Vinyl Confessions’ was their best album, the band re-energised by Elefante and showing plenty of purpose in their instrumental sections. The fact that they could utilise radio friendly melodies and still be unflinchingly hard rock inspired makes this a veritable feast.

In Summary

Play The Game Tonight (Live)

Play The Game Tonight

Borderline
Kansas - Bordeline


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