My history with Kansas goes back to a chilly February night in 1975 at the State Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They opened for somebody, I think it might have been Bad Company. But what I remember is not that super group, but rather the opening moments of Song For America. I was floored and amazed by that song, the set list, and their crisp performance. I became an instant fan. The sad thing is that was the one and only time I ever saw the band, more than 40 years ago. Wow.
It goes without saying that a new Kansas album, the first in 16 years, is rather large news, almost seemingly an unprecedented accomplishment. Yet here we have The Prelude Implicit. You may not recognize all the players as there's some new folks in the band but, if you're a Kansas fan you will recognize one thing. This album sounds like Kansas. Classic Kansas. Signature Kansas: twin guitar harmony, both old school and new keyboard embellishment, the searing and soaring violin, and all wrapped up in melodic progressive rock arrangements, not overly complex, but always engaging.
There's songs with groove and catchy vocal arrangements like With This Hear and Summer. Then Kansas can dial things down, giving you smooth and lighter songs of some inspiration such as Refugee and The Unsung Heroes which, to my ears, had a latent blues vibe going on. Of course what would Kansas or a Kansas album be without an epic opus, and you get that with The Voyage of Eight Eighteen. It bit heavier in parts, but you get a pleasant balance of guitar, violin, and keyboard solos within.
Yet with all these glowing words, I found some things curious. One was how new vocalist Ronnie Platt's voice seem suppressed by the music in the mix. Also, I found some of the lyrics to be slightly vague, less coherent, than I expect from Kansas. Another thing, and this is just a feeling: I can't say that there was a single song that really popped, just stood out, or might create a lasting memory like, say, a Carry On Wayward Son, The Wall, or the aforementioned Song For America. Nevertheless, The Prelude Implicit is a strong return to form for Kansas, possibly even a singular statement: we're back and we've got much more music to share. Easily recommended.
The Prelude Implicit is a strong return to form for Kansas, possibly even a singular statement: we're back and we've got much more music to share. Easily recommended.
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