[Review] Kansas (1994)

A box set of the band’s classic period compiled by drummer Phil Ehart.

Kronomyth 14.5: Growing old is only going back to where you’ve been.

Kansas gets the box treatment in a two-disc set that contains the usual bits: digitally remastered sound, some unreleased material and a playbill filled with historical facts and never-before-seen band photos. Instead of a career summary of Kansas in all its various incarnations, this boxed set is strictly limited to “classic” Kansas: the band’s first seven studio albums. That means you don’t have to listen to Kansas without Steve Walsh (Vinyl Confessions, Drastic Measures) or Kansas without Kerry Livgren (Power, In the Spirit of Things), but you do have to listen a 16-minute live version of “Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman.” that includes both of them plus an awesome drum solo from Phil Ehart. Unfortunately, you also have to listen to a new song, “Wheels,” that features all three of them plus new violinist David Ragsdale. That song definitely could have used a drum solo, not to mention a pair of cymballs.

As you’d probably expect, about half of Point of Know Return and Leftoverture are on here. So is about half of Masque, which is kind of a surprise. Three tracks from each of the two albums before (Kansas, Song for America) and after (Monolith, Audio-Visions) round out the set.

Presented in chronological order with an early demo version of “Can I Tell You” and a few unreleased live versions peppered in between, the Kansas box set tells the story of The Six (Ehart, Livgren, Walsh, Dave Hope, Robby Steinhardt and Rich Williams) and The Seven they left behind. What followed, of course, wasn’t entirely inconsequential, and you’ll find it chronicled on the double-disc compilations that came after: 1997’s Definitive Collection, 2002’s erroneously titled The Ultimate Kansas and, in an apparent attempt to lure in confused Styx fans, 2004’s Sail On.

Original 2CD version

A1. Can I Tell You (demo) (Rich Williams/Phil Ehart/Dave Hope/Steve Walsh) (4:20)
A2. Death of Mother Nature Suite (live) (Kerry Livgren) (9:00)
A3. Journey from Mariabronn (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (7:57)
A4. Song for America (Kerry Livgren) (10:01)
A5. The Devil Game (Steve Walsh/Dave Hope) (5:04)
A6. Incomudro – Hymn to the Atman (live) (Kerry Livgren) (16:08)
A7. Child of Innocence (Kerry Livgren) (4:33)
A8. Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (6:04)
A9. Mysteries and Mayhem  (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (4:20)
A10. The Pinnacle (Kerry Livgren) (9:35)
B1. Carry on Wayward Son  (Kerry Livgren) (5:22)
B2. The Wall  (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (4:47)
B3. What’s on My Mind (Kerry Livgren) (3:27)
B4. Opus Insert (Kerry Livgren) (4:25)
B5. Magnus Opus (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh/Rich Williams/Dave Hope/Phil Ehart/Robby Steinhardt) (8:25)
a. Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat
b. Howling at the Moon
c. Man Overboard
d. Industry on Parade
e. Release the Beavers
f. Gnat Attack
B6. Point of Know Return (Steve Walsh/Phil Ehart/Robby Steinhardt) (3:12)
B7. Portrait (He Knew) (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (4:34)
B8. Dust in the Wind (Kerry Livgren) (3:29)
B9. Closet Chronicles (Steve Walsh/Kerry Livgren) (6:31)
B10. People of the South Wind (Kerry Livgren) (3:29)
B11. On the Other Side (live) (Kerry Livgren) (6:43)
B12. A Glimpse of Home (Kerry Livgren) (6:36)
B13. Relentless (Kerry Livgren) (4:57)
B14. Loner (Steve Walsh) (2:30)
B15. Hold On (Kerry Livgren) (3:53)
B16. Wheels (Kerry Livgren/Steve Walsh) (4:32)

The Players

“Wheels” features Phil Ehart (drums), Kerry Livgren (guitars, keyboards and background vocals), David Ragsdale (violin) and Steve Walsh (lead vocals). Produced by Phil Ehart, Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh;  engineered & mixed by Jeff Glixman.

The Pictures

Illustration by Barron Storey. Art direction by Jim de Barros. Design assistance by Harry Bolick. Photos by Neal Preston, M. & M. Wambsganss, Jonathan Exley, Terry Ehart.

The Plastic

Released on 2CD box set in July 1994 in the US (Epic Associated/Legacy, Z2K 47364).

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