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5 stars No doubt about it. The best album of all time. Not even the children's choir on Cheyenne Anthem could put a dampener on things. Equal parts scorching US Hard Rock and Gershwinesque musical mayhem, this album simply cannot be beaten. And Carry On Wayward Son will remain THE classic rock anthem to beat all others.
Report this review (#21783)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the dozen or so tapes that I played to death as a child. I had no idea WHY it was great or how great it was, as radio was only starting to suck. A couple of decades later, I still think it's a masterpiece. The recording quality itself is showing its age badly (I don't have the remaster) but the music is as fresh as the day it was cut.

Another American band that has headed in much this general direction, much more recently, is Spock's Beard, which I also recommend you look into.

Report this review (#21774)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Kansas was in the 70's the american answer to the british prog scene. They followed the scheme drawed by groups as Yes or Genesis but with more energy and the inclusion of a boogie-rock tune on each of their earlier LPs. Despite the fact that Robby Steinhardt was the only musician that went to a music school, the musicianship is nonetheless astonishing : Steve Walsh is a true gifted vocalist, Kerry Livgren is the main composer and plays the guitar and some synth parts and Phil Ehart is avery good drummer. Leftoverture is the best Kansas record and can easily be compared to its european equivalents. It contains american mainstream rock blended with symphonic prog rock elements. Great stuff !!!
Report this review (#21770)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album came out when I was a sophmore in high school and even though I've heard Carry On Warward Son hundreds (if not thousands!) of times in the nearly 30 years since, I still crank it up whenever I hear it. Through in The Wall, Miracles Out of Nowhere, Opus Insert, et al and you have one of the truly great albums of the 70's if not the last half of the century.
Report this review (#21760)
Posted Sunday, February 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars mmm... after such enthusiastic reviews what can i say? It's hard for the european prog fan raised on genesis, pfm, king crimson to get used to this embarrassing union between prog complexity and american rock sound. It takes several listen to forget prejudices and appreciate the music itself. If nothing else, Wayward son is an enjoyable and catchy riff...
Report this review (#21761)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars THE classic Kansas album, it comes after a semi-dud, Leftoverture returns with the legendary logo and a Merlin-Ludwig DaVinci fantasy artwork and some dynamite songwriting. Still with the classic line-up, Leftoverture is the album that broke the group nationally and paved their way to international success. Part of the success of this album is the production, which managed to make this album sound unique and huge. This is the album that would be an inevitable reference to many future American bands (see last paragraph of my review), one that proved that US could also scream prog as well.

Opening on the anthemic hit Wayward Son despite its length (5-mins was unusual for radio-friendly hits) and backed with strong material like The Wall and Miracles Out Of Nowhere, but it is clearly the proggier Cheyene Anthem and Magnum Opus, both closing the album, that the group strikes gold with. However, the AOR sound is still very much present throughout the album, but then again, it wouldn't be Kansas without it, uh??

Of course this is their peak but As Mr Bonzo says in his review (now gone), it is hard to get used to this huge American sound., if you weren't bread with it Let's recognize that this is the album that will set the American Standard for decades to come (Starcastle, Cathedral, Spock's Beard, Somnambulist etc..) and is a downright classic. My fave track on this one is Cheyenne Anthem and of course Magnum Opus but I still think they had said most of it all on their debut album. A classic.

Report this review (#21762)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you like progressive stuff this albun is one that you MUST have! Kansas inspirated our idols of the 90's like Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery for exemple. This albun is one of the bests progressive releases of all times! Best Songs: "Carry On Wayward Son", "Magnum Opus", "Opus Insert".
Report this review (#21763)
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Certainly any good prog collection would not be complete without KANSAS' "Leftoverture". Here is some old time classic prog with the classic rock ditty "Carry On My Wayward Son" which was one on every K-TEL record for miles. This is in my opinion KANSAS' best offering of all time and certainly "Magnum Opus" is the best track they ever recorded...a true timeless masterpiece!
Report this review (#21764)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Almost perfect, a true jewel in the middle between the tradition of such a convincing US Hard rock/FM rock and the greatest European Progressive Rock. Out of the standard concerning the European Progressive genre, this famous work is diverse, a special contamination between the best American tradition of classic rock and an epic progressive music, which could deserve the maximum score!! For instance the mini-suite "Magnum Opus" is a masterpiece, but also "Cheyenne Anthem", with his splendid central chorus-section and the final stunning epic instrumental, or once again the most typical US hard rock stuff, included within "Carry on my Wayward Song".Regarding of the explanations above, all these tracks make this album a must-have!!
Report this review (#21766)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars This is truely a piece of art record! Kansas are a very important influence for many later-prog-heroes like Dream Theater, Psychotic Waltz or the swedish "highspeed"-guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, who covered the hymn "Carry On Wayward Son" on his album "Inspiration". "Leftoverture" is possibly the best art-rock album ever recorded in the U.S. and a must-have-masterpiece for every single prog fan! There is no bad song on this!
Report this review (#21771)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This KANSAS album is very accessible prog hard rock. Many good electrical guitar parts, less violin, the songs are also surprisingly elaborated. It reminds me of course BOSTON for the hard rock style and STYX for the progressive side. The keyboards may be floating as on "Cheyenne Anthem", and the organ and mood sounds are omnipresent. "Carry On The Wayward Son" is a big hit. The lead vocals, violins, bass and drums are good and present, as always.
Report this review (#21772)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Heartland prog, which is to say earnest and even evangelical in tone but ultimately a flat facsimile of the genre's musical nooks and crannies. KANSAS had created a dialectic interpretation of what was originally a European phenomenon, adding country elements that included twangier vocal harmonies, fiddling and "bible belt" sentiment to prog's mystical soup. At its best, this music rocked and resonated simultaneously; look no further than the opening "Carry On Wayward Son" to see where "Leftoverture" works. It's in this hard-rocking, semi-mystical music that KANSAS found an audience, and tracks like "What's On My Mind" and "Miracles Out of Nowhere" were themselves influential, lighting the way for arena rockers Boston, FOREIGNER et al. At this stage, however, KANSAS was still borrowing elements from past masters -- bits of GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT and ELP pop up throughout. Rarely do they paint the sublime plateaus of GENESIS, the apocalyptic battles of ELP or the impossibly tight arrangements of GENTLE GIANT, but KANSAS remains in the ballpark of magic most of the way. The appropriately titled "Magnum Opus" especially manages to leave the earth in pursuit of higher learning, and is a journey Rush fans will enjoy. The music that remains is very good, from the Lamb-like "The Wall" to the inflated but impressive "Opus Insert".

Just as the early music of RUSH succeeded more on moxie than method, "Leftoverture" is clearly good enough to seduce even jaded prog purists over time. True, compared to the English masters, "Leftoverture" is lyrically naďve and its complexity more bluster than brilliance, but so few bands took up the torch and got this far running with it that KANSAS deserves more credit than criticism.

Report this review (#21767)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Thank you James Hill that we Americans can think with our brains sometimes ;-). Most criticism of Kansas is that they didn't stay true to progressive rock throughout their albums or career. This group played a variety of styles and I think that's why I like them so much. I comment on this one because it was a the one that defined them. They had three great albums before this and several good ones after but this one gave them headliner status. I grew up with this band from the first album onward. Kerry Livgren's songs have so much meaning to them. Heartfelt spiritual searching that all of us go through and identify with. Simple questions that have no answers except in the deepest regions of our own hearts (It's just love and miracles out of nowhere). Never mean spirited but not sappy either. Their music is both subtle and hard edged. So they had radio hits. So did Genesis, ELP, Focus, Yes, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull. Does this take away from one essential point; That a band could survive and even thrive playing what they wanted not what they thought someone wanted them to play? I don't think so. They did so by not one person being greater than the whole. It was a band and without each member the sound and songs would have suffered. I used to think that classical music was an influence but I think that soundtracks was a better style are a better fit at least in Kerry Livgren penned songs. They set moods like Genesis did but in a totally different way. I love their melodies as one moves into another and then would just knock you down with some kick ass rock. They took along time getting known because no one wanted to play with them because they would blow other bands off the stage. Anyway, those are my memories and thoughts. Maybe not quite as sophisticated as the Europeans but then again not one of the Europeans could get down and dirty like these guys either and touch people who might never have been exposed to something higher than three chord rock. This album is a classic.
Report this review (#21775)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Kansas fully make the transition from prog to radio friendy AOR.Their one attempt at doing something interesting here is the dreadfull 'Magnum Opus' which screams PASTICHE.Sorry all you Kansas fans but this is not where it is at.I'll give it a generous 3 stars for the magnificient 'Carry On Wayward Sun' which is great 'Pomp Rock' but the rest is distinctly ordinary.
Report this review (#21777)
Posted Monday, May 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good is a fair assesment of Kansas's work. I think Left Overture arguably their best album from the 70's. I do not think their work compares with the likes of Supertramp from that era and yes it is different but overall I don't think Left Overture would fit in an ' Excellent' category.
Report this review (#21786)
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the things that I like from Kansas is the mixture they did of Progressive Rock with Heavy Metal guitars. In one song one could hear "delicate classical" keyboards and violin followed by heavy metal distorted lead guitars.The lyrics of some of the songs are very good, like "The Wall" and "Miracles out of nowhere". In this album, Kerry Livgren was the main composer. The best songs in this album are "Carry on wayward son", "The Wall", "Miracles out of nowhere" (very influenced by classical music) and the "weird song" called "Magnum opus". I prefer the live versions of these songs from the "Two for the show" and "Live at the Whisky" albums, as they are played with more energy and feeling. But this "Leftoverture" album is very good too.
Report this review (#21787)
Posted Friday, October 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here's an opinion: Leftoverture is the only album worth five stars. Period. This conclusion was not drawn by comparing Kansas with superb British Prog. Rock bands, nor admiring it's hard American style in contrast to the symphonic components within. Rather, I listen for the dramatic enterprise that actually exists. In reviews here, we have heard excellent remarks pertaining to the context of this album. I'll argue that context is the upholding feature of this work as... a masterpiece. Surely, you can hear influences in Kansas' music from a few Prog. Rock bands, and also of a bluesy American punch rock. What astonishes me is that Kansas, all though there was scarcely anything new possible, at least made music that actually rocked, that was actually intricate, that was actually emotional, and was actually tightly arranged and played, all at the same time, on two sides... Why must it be Progressive or original for that matter? It is just plain good. Why must it be anything? A bias can ruin your perception, and perhaps I am guilty... " But I'm not biased though, I'm Canadian! And I play hockey, so if you have a problem we'll fight about it........"
Report this review (#21788)
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cassette confusion

Don't be put off by the rather corny title, this is probably Kansas' best album. I have always considered them to be a bit "second division", in as much as there are to my mind plenty of other bands who do what Kansas do, better.

To generalise, I find Kansas song writing to be rather weak. They know what they want to achieve, but often do not seem to quite get there. The other general criticism I have is in relation to the vocals. Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh are undoubtedly accomplished singers, but at least one of their voices is an acquired taste (forgive my ignorance, I do not know the band well enough to differentiate who is singing on each track). I also find that Kansas' songs do not always fit in well with their capabilities/limitations.

Now that is out the way, to the good points of this album. The opening track (Or is it? See below!), "Carry on wayward son" is probably (along with "Dust in the wind") Kansas' best known song. It's an upbeat feel good song, with a very catchy hook, and some fine instrumental passages. The following track "The wall" is my favourite Kansas track. The vocals are stronger here than on any other song by the band. It is a melodic power ballad, with a superb, Wurlitzer like, keyboard solo to finish.

Of the rest, "Cheyenne anthem" and "Magnum Opus" are among the best. The latter at 8 1/2 minutes is hardly "magnum", but they do still manage to split it into 6 sections!

A solid album by a capable, if at times "safe", band. Worth exploring.

I mentioned earlier about the "first" track. The cassette version I have lists the tracks in the order shown on this site. The cassette however actually plays in a completely different order, with "Cheyenne anthem" opening the album, and "Carry on.." kicking off side 2. Presumably this was to balance up the running times on the cassette.

Report this review (#21789)
Posted Thursday, October 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ** Intermezzo - By the time I am about to write this review, I'm hearing "Stargazer" of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow ("Rising" album) broadcasted by our local FM radio station. What a coincidence! "Leftoverture" was released about the same period (I guess) with Rainbow "Rising". Yeah . both of them have colored my teenage days. Powerful albums! Unfortunately, I cannot put my thoughts about "rising" as it is not boxed under prog category. Poor me . That's the impact on categorizing music under what so called "genre". Who's fault ? Our fault! The listeners. Yes, we categorized music. **

Sorry for the above intermezzo, but it's true for me personally (or it may apply to some of you). The kind of music that the rock groups created during the creative year of 70s seem to share common "nuances" for me. I can feel it but I can not disburse it in words. Well, I think for those of you who were teenagers during 70s, you know exactly what I mean, as I can sense it now. Regardless which part of the world you were at that time. The 70's was really the glory years of rock music. Rock music was accessible by almost all people. Don't you think so?

Yes, "CARRY ON WAYWARD SON " ..JRENG! was I think one of the colors of 70s music. The music is to me a kind of straight forward rock song. It may be categorized as prog as there are some tempo changes but it's still maintaining a rocking style. I like the voice line as well as the guitar work and piano during transition pieces. An energetic tune. I still remember those days when I watched the rock concert (accompanied by my big bro, Boedi - remember, I was just teenager - my mom did not allow me to go by myself)) in Jakarta where the performer was our local rock hero GOD BLESS covering this song. Fantastic performance. This song is suitable for cheering you up after you've gone thru a tiring day, eg. fed up with your boss, trapped in a long traffic jam, or experiencing a not so good relationship with your friend, spouse, etc. Play it ON man, you'll get your spirit UP! Yeah . count on my words!

"THE WALL" is a melodic track in a sort of ballad mode with great lead guitar. The guitar melody at the very intro part of the track is really killing me .. Hmmmm ...!! Oh boy . what a wonderful melody!!! The other interesting part is when the clavinet sound backing up the voice line and then followed by tasty violin sound. Uuuuggghhhh ...great composition! The strong part of this track is, I think (in addition to the "killing" melody line), the transition pieces where a wide variety of instruments are used, including vibes. Brilliant!

"WHAT's ON MY MIND" is a dynamic track in relatively fast tempo. The double guitar sound is really excellent. The music flows like typical rock song. Great vocal. "MIRACLES OUT OF NOWHERE" is my all-time favorite as it has relatively complex composition but it is crafted in a great tasty melody. The many instruments used to accentuate the music are blended nicely in one single composition: wonderful ballad rock music. "Tell me where you're going to?" is the part of its lyrics that people used to emulate this track. Observe the complexity of musical instruments' melody at transition on minute 2:30. Wow! Really stunning, my friend! Each instrument seems to sound in different direction but in a very nice harmony! I don't believe that human being has ever created this superb song! Really superb! Try it yourself! You will hardly disagree with me. I'm pretty sure!

"OPUS INSERT" is a straight forward rock music with great organ sound and some acoustic guitar work. Nothing more that I can comment as the music is nice with some prog elements in the middle of the track using vibes (reminds me to Gentle Giant, actually). "QUESTIONS OF MY CHILDHOOD" has great harmony of keyboard and piano (played at the same time). However, the melody of this track is not really as tasty as the other tracks.

"CHEYENNE ANTHEM" was the first track in the cassette edition that I purchased sometime in 76. (Thanks God, finally I could afford to buy the CD in 1998). Of course, I love this track as it starts beautifully with a great acoustic guitar rhythm and it climbs up to a faster tempo when all instruments take part.

The concluding track "MAGNUM OPUS" is another all-time favorite track for me. It has everything for a progressive rock track: relatively complex, changing tempos, great transitions and the use of many instruments to generate various sounds. The vocal line at the opening part is very melodic. The rest of the track has no vocal but full with exploration of musical instruments in relatively complex composition, relatively fast tempo, excellent harmony. (Sometime in the year 2000, I was listening to the metal program in our local FM station. The broadcaster mentioned that "Magnum Opus" was the first inspiration for progressive metal bands. Was that true? I don't know. But it might be, because it has a sort of guitar riffs. Do you think so? If you agree, this album then must be a "masterpiece", because it has laid a solid foundation in the history of progressive metal! ).

Overall, this album is a "masterpiece"! It deserves for 5 / 5 rating. Powerful songwriting, tight structure and composition, excellent performance, great cover and excellent sonic quality of the CD. (Just a little note: if you do not mind, I would humbly say "please ignore any review in this page or other page that rate this album less than 4/5". Sorry . it's not my intention to undermine other reviewers' views. Indeed, I'm not a die hard fan of Kansas, but this album is absolutely a masterpiece. I have to be fair. Big apology for my "naďve-ness" but I'm telling you from my heart. Please try it yourself. Nyuwun sewu njih .) GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#21791)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is amazing. It flys in the face of mp3s, because the songs are connected, and having individual songs just doesn't cut it. The writing is just super. The instrumentation is great. The singing is engaging, and on target. It is really a masterpiece, and a must listen, and for me a place to touch in to remember how music can transform us, and inspire us to create in a way that will make a difference.

Great effort!!

Report this review (#21792)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A white trash dude named Cleatus askes his slutty girlfriend Brandy to get married. The're in a K-Mart parking lot and listening to 'their' song: Dust in the Wind.

Oh man, I saw sooo many country guys trying to impress girls by playing this song on their cheap guitars. And of course, the girls fell for those guys, 'cause guys knew the making out potential of this song. And then the legends wrotes itself. Kansas became THE band who wrote Dust in The Wind. Man I always disliked that sound quite sincerely. So when I finded out that out that this song was not a good representation of their overall work, I bought Leftoverture.

To my surprise I didn't knew they wrote Carry On Wayward Son. I mean, I knew the melody, but I didn't known Kansas wrote it. Once again, my jaw kinda hardened as I realized that I perhaps wasted my money. But then came Miracles Out of Nowhere, Cheyenne Antem and the highly honorable Magnum Opus. Bam! I was sold to this super album. I didn't knew how good this band was before. And to find an american band who rocks this good and also could teach a lesson or two to ELP and Yes got me more happier.

The song writing is excellent. They use a very great range of keyboards, some xylophone, dirty guitars when needed and when the viola kicks in, it sets the whole thing on fire. I'm happy to own a piece what America did best in the 70's. Honestly, I'm very impressed by the quality and yet accessible work of Kansas.

A surprisingly good record with a somewhat low amount of cheesyness. If you want two North American band of the 70's, I'd say to go with Rush and Kansas.

Report this review (#21793)
Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What an opening statement this album makes! In the multi-dimension heavy rocker Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas has one of the greatest prog-inflected singles of all time. I love everything about it ... the exuberant layered vocals, poignant lyrics, searing organ, heavy guitar, understated piano-playing, the fiery break, and the airtight rhythm section. It was the single that helped Kansas break through to the big time but that shouldn't take anything away from one of Kerry Livgren's finest compositions.

It's not the only blockbuster on this album. Magnum Opus is one intense, rewarding journey that has everything from Steve Walsh's moody vibe-palying to Rich Williams' scorching guitar leads. It's a song of real stature. Cheyenne Anthem (thematically at least) is like a sequel to their greatest prog acheivement Song For America and it's a great song. Despite a cheesy children's choir and a dubious polka-ish rhythm that takes over at one point, there are so many delicate bits that I can't resist in this song. Miracles Out Of Nowhere is another indisutable Kansas classic, bringing back some much needed violin and synth leads that I often finded are needed to take a Kansas song to the next level. I also love the organ-led mid section to bits ... what a great bit of prog playing!

The Wall is one of those songs I find a little over-rated. Its melody and style are too meandering for my tastes and I actually find it boring. Same goes for Opus Insert, which has some nice interludes, but is generally forgettable. What's On My Mind blends a punchy rock riff with a shockingly poppy verse, but like The Wall I find it overrated. Questions Of My Childhood is another song with a strong pop touch, although the arrangements save this one from the scrapheap.

The bonus tracks on my CD are virtually note-perfect live versions of Carry On Wayward Son and Cheyenne Anthem, proving to those who didn't already know just what a powerful band Kansas was at its prime. In fact I prefer the live version of Cheyenne Anthem to its studio counterpart. ... 80% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#21796)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Leftoverture" the most passionate, best sounding Kansas album to date. The songs are complex, creative and catchy. In spite of the rumor that a band named kansas can not rock...well let's just say this album is solid proof they can rock not only hard, but to a certain degree it proves they were indeed a "heavier" band on the scene at the time...which they were way ahead of.

Best tracks***

Magnum opus carry on wayward son cheyenne anthem the wall

Report this review (#35497)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars In the Seventies Kansas created a captivating blend of classical music, hardrock and 'symphonic rock'. A highly acclaimed album is "Leftoverture", many progheads consider this as their best studio work. I disagree because the first two are my favorite albums but I would like to have a listen to the final track "Magnum opus" (what's in a name?), in my opinion their most symphonic and mature composition. The intro contains a lot of violin, one of their trademarks. Then the music continues with a bombastic outburst, a short distorted guitar solo and vibraphone/piano interplay. The climates changes when a howling electric guitar solo and a slow rhythm symbolise the lyrics: "only howling at the moon". After a short break with floods of organ, an up-tempo rhythm follows with exciting violin/electric guitar interplay, soon joined by spectacular and catchy synthesizer flights. Then again that typical Kansas-sound: heavy and bombastic with swirling interplay between the fiery electric guitar, violin and organ. Lots of changing climates follow: from mellow with twanging electric guitar and vibraphone till bombastic with heavy electric guitar runs and great violinplay. The 'grand finale' contains spectacular synthesizer flights (use of pitchbend), a sparkling piano and finally propulsive interplay between the electric guitar and the violin, KANSAS AT IT'S BEST!
Report this review (#37724)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Combining the words Leftover, with overtures, how original ;) But it helps me describe their music somewhat, for that is what Kansas do, and makes up for their unique style, combining two, and sometimes more different tunes, and molding them into one coherent piece of rock music. Their fourth album already, and their breakthrough to the big audience. Leftovertures proofs what was already apparent on their previous albums. Kansas Rocks.

The pressure on the band to release a hit grew, and the high pace of recording albums and extensive touring to promote the band had took it's toll, Steve Walsh was going through a writers block, so the other main writer Kerry Livgren took up the task to write most of the music for Leftovertures. The pressure on Livgren seemed to inspire him to come up with some fantastic songs.

Overtures are generally speaking musical introductions to a greater piece, combining and summarising what the audience awaits during the rest of the show, and is usually (by me that is) regarded as one of the highlights of the symphony. And like the album title suggest each song on Leftovertures is a condensed piece of music, with numerous changes and can be considered a highlight.

The main elements of kansas music are the fabulous singing, strong drumming, hard rock guitar rifs, but most notable the violin/keyboards/bass and drum interplay, sounding both classical, as carnavaleque at times, great exciting music. Highlights on an album filled with highlights is difficult to pinpoint, but the best parts are the hard rocking Carry On Wayward Son, Magnum Opus, and the both cheerfull as sad Cheyenne Anthem.

A fabulous album, and it can't be praised enough. Five stars from this dude.


Report this review (#39968)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars When this record first came out, I didn't know or care to know what progressive music was. Being a pre-teen in the post Woodstock era I just wanted music that sounded good on my panasonic all in one turntable-radio-8-track. This music sounded good. I loved the vocal harmonies, the guitar, and Phil Ehart's underrated drumming. The reason this record scores a five on my chart is simple. It was my first, although unknowingly, prog record I ever owned. From this record spawned my love for bands like Rush, Rainbow, and Styx. Now that I'm a forty something I can look back and say that this record is why I am now listening to stuff like Pain of Salvation, Enchant, and IQ. If it influenced me it surely has influenced many current bands. One last thing, A good gage for me when looking at older music is how it sounds now as opposed to then. Most of this record still sounds fresh. To the prog collector, this is a must have addition for your collection
Report this review (#40233)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.4 stars.

This is an album that sounds like neo-prog without being in that period. I call it neo-prog because it has a sound very similar to Spock's Beard. This album doesn't give overly beautiful moments, as Yes/Genesis could give with no effort. However, this is an easy prog-lite album that can be enjoyed.

Carry on Wayward Son is easily the best song from Kansas. The melodies are incredibly catchy and well arranged, and the guitar riffing rivals Jimmi Page's best riffs. The song also goes through many different sections under its short duration. Excellent!

Unfortunately, what follows does not reach that level. However, it is still interesting enough prog-pop. The Wall is a melodic nice tune. What's In My Mind is a hard rocker that reminds me of Gentle Giant for some reason. Miracles out of Nowhere is an organ-driven song with dynamic moments. "Opus Island" is a nice soft rock track with good keyboard playing. "Questions of My Childhood" for some reason doesn't click for me. Cheyenne Anthem is a good track that begins as a ballad, and then increases tempo and intensity. The piano work is excellent here.

The album concludes with "Magnum Opus", being the other highlight of this album. It is very dynamic, complex, virtuosic, and shall I say .. Intense!! I am sure that most, if not all, progressive rock fans will find something in this track to adore. The riffs are very memorable, the guitar solo in the beginning is brilliant, and the song goes through many phases.

While I do not agree with the high rating of the album, I consider this a fine album that could be like by almost everybody. It is very accessible, yet prog enough. It may be a good place to start if you want to start collecting American Prog and Neo-prog music (especially Spock's Beard).

1. Carry on wayward son (9.5/10) 2. The wall (7/10) 3. What's on my mind (6/10) 4. Miracles out of nowhere (6/10) 5. Opus insert (6.5/10) 6. Questions of my childhood (4/10) 7. Cheyenne anthem (7.5/10) 8. Magnum opus (8.5/10)

My Grade : C+

Report this review (#44615)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I can understand why Kansas are not to many prog lovers' taste. Progressive rock is essentially European (though not exclusively English) in origins and atmosphere, and Kansas' music shows clear American influences. Of course, there's the country-flavoured sound of Robbie Steinhardt's violin, but the whole scope of their music feels different from that of English and Continental prog bands. Take Steve Walsh's voice, for instance: he's one of the greatest singers in the genre, and his performance on "Leftoverture" is nothing short of stunning - however, his singing style is quite different from other prog greats. His voice soars with clarity and power, but it can also sound a bit too melodramatic to ears accustomed to, say, Lake or Richard Sinclair's quintessentially English delivery or Gabriel's brooding intensity.

That said, though, "Leftoverture" is without any doubt a great album, possibly Kansas' finest hour. It blends true-blue, progressive moments with lots of strong, memorable melodies, heavy guitar riffs and sweeping, romantic violin interludes, magnificent vocal interplay from Walsh and Robbie Steinhardt and uplifting lyrics, not as cloyingly preachy as Livgren's output would become in later years. It is a complex record which is at the same time quite easy on the ear, unlike its follower, the equally excellent but somehow darker "Point of Know Return". Hit single "Carry On Wayward Son" has a very catchy chorus, but some beautiful instrumental passages lurk behind its apparent accessibility. The album's highlights , however, besides the largely instrumental "Magnum Opus" (the most traditionally prog track on the record), are the melodic, majestic "The Wall" and especially "Miracles Out of Nowhere", which boasts some of Steinhardt's best violin playing, great vocals by Walsh and heartwarming lyrics. Even though in the '80s they became a run-of-the-mill AOR band with strong confessional leanings, the contribution of Kansas to the development of American prog rock cannot be neglected. Together with Rainbow, they should also be mentioned as the forerunners of Dream Theater's brand of prog-metal. "Leftoverture" may not be an essential masterpiece of prog music, but it's more than certainly an excellent, highly recommended addition to anyone's collection.

Report this review (#55635)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Every now and then I like to rifle through the bargain bins and pull out an LP with a promising looking cover and buy it just for the sake of it. "Leftoverture" was one such purchase, and I pulled the cans on, cranked up the volume, and waited for the torrents of cheesey Spinal Tap related drivel to spew forth.

Instead, for my Ł1, I got the shock of my life - a bona fide Prog Rock album, with fewer similarities to Boston than I was expecting, and more similarities to Gentle Giant!!

I found flavours of every classic Prog Rock band bar Jethro Tull in here, which you might think would make it sound awfully derivative - but the truth is, that it's in no way awful, and only really slightly derivative - there's a unique "Kansas" vibe running through the entire album.

Don't get me wrong, "Leftoverture" is not in the same league or even vein as GG or the "Classics" (except for "Magnum Opus"), it is closer in sound to Boston, the songs rarely stretch beyond 5 minutes; It's not a pure Prog Rock album, but it's about as close to Prog Rock as you're going to get on the West side of the Atlantic during the 1970s, and a worthy investment of your hard-earned Prog tokens.

A very strong 4 Stars - an excellent addition to any collection of Prog Rock, if only for "Magnum Opus" and "Miracles Out of Nowhere". There are other worthy moments here too - but for those, you're going to have to read the long bits :0)

A vocal intro strongly reminiscent of Styx leads to a strong section of riffola and soloing with tasty organ undercurrents, and multiple riff and texture changes. When the verse starts, we're in a new melodic territory that has flavours of Uriah Heep. A strongly constructed song emerges - standard rock format, but cleverly disguised with piano and vocal layers, then a well constructed bridge in an A-B-A-C-A format seguing back to the chorus featuring rhythmic variants - that's what I mean by well constructed. There's nothing majorly new about the riffing, but it all has that spontaneous and organic feel that comes about when the entire song is concieved from a single base of ideas and then had plenty of improv worked in.

"The Wall" is nothing like anything on the Pink Floyd album - indeed, when it kicked in, I thought for a second or two that I might be listening to a long-lost Fish-era Marillion number - there are a vew similarities, especially in the early emotional guitar solo, that carry a flavour of "Forgotten Sons". There's a nice folky flavour underpinning this song, heightened by a violin. Little flavours of Genesis drift through, but ultimately the feel of this song is of a very well constructed ballad with prog-style textures, and it's all a little too "pleasant" for my taste. The MGM ending just seals this one.

"What's on My Mind" is a Boston-style rocker... although I have to concede that "Leftoverture" predates Boston... Imagine Free or Bad Company with added organ and you're nearly there. There's an odd change halfway through which seems to hint at "Boogie Nights", and I'm left a little uneasy about the overall construction here. What is on the mind of the writer???

The first song over 5 minutse, "Miracles out of nowhere" is much more like it, as far as Prog Rock is concerned - if up to now you had, like me, felt that this isn't really a Prog album, this song is one that will change your mind, despite the slightly cheesey chorus. The violin continues the folk-like flavour, and the swirls of organ combined with the "tough" bass sound drive the music forwards in a kind of Yes style, but with better vocals. The real piece of prog starts with the fugue that suddenly pipes up - all instruments partaking, with multiple organ and string sounds creating a dense texture that hides the time signatures very well - multiple listens are required to work these out, so I'll leave that to those who care... This is just brilliant Prog Rock of the finest quality, and is what really surprised me about this album. The other surprise is that not only is this great quality Prog, but the melodies are strong too - always a tricky thing to achieve when you're working with complex material.

Miracles out of nowhere? Yeah - that works!

Flipping the vinyl over, I'm now charged up for more of this - the Rock is hugely enjoyable, and the Prog more than just a bonus - it's really good.

"Opus Insert" continues with the flavours of Yes with good vocals - although admittedly, the harmonies are fairly weak. The time changes are nice, and the textures are great - the sudden move to Zappa-like textures is a great and welcome surprise, although the perfect cadences with flourishes spoil the effect. We are later treated to a swirling organ section (Mmmm), that segues into a Moog-led reprise of the main tune - all too briefly, sadly.

Not so solidly in Prog territory, "Questions of my childhood" feels like a kind of Prog- flavoured hit single, and is a bit "more of the same", in that it solidifies the style of this album, which otherwise might be feeling a little inconsistent, with the swinging back and forwards between standard rock and Prog. The violin solo is particularly notable, and I like the way it's picked up by the keyboard.

"Cheyenne anthem" probably carries the cheesiest lyrics on the entire album - and begins more strongly in the folk-style flavour. A piano-driven section follows - and I can't help but be mystified, as I fail to relate the instrumental textures with the words. The tunes are strong, though, and I particularly like the children's choir, that is beautifully picked up by vibes and violin and driven into a passage that carries a strong Gentle Giant flavour... until it goes pear-shaped, with an Oom-pah bass line driving some terribly noodling solos. This has stronger flavours of Barnum than Cheyenne Indians, in truth. We kind of forgive Kansas with some of the stronger proggy material that goes in here, but it's all a kind of random pastiche, weakly linked by thematic ideas, then a recapitulated intro, with out-of-tune female (or possibly falsetto) solo - quite nasty. The musical development that follows, though, is actually quite good.

And finally "Magnum Opus" - the 8 and a half minuter that I've been waiting for.

This begins strongly in Prog Rock territory, with a large sound with great washes of keyboard, leading to a bass solo that seems oddly out of place - in a Krautrock kind of way, but the vibes that follow seem to bring the focus back. Talking of Focus, an Akkerman-style solo brings us to the verse, and all is Prog textures, lush sounds... and lyrics about music. This segues into an ELP(without the boxing gloves) flavoured riff, with the violin creating new and exciting textures. Kansas pull out all the stops and really get into the Prog rock groove with this - it's a pity, in a way, that this is the streaming mp3 on this site, as it really is the very best and most proggy track on the entire album - a superb work that lives up to its auspicious title very well.

Marimbas and picked guitar with washes of Hammond and rich bass bring another beautiful texture exploration to the fore - I'm reminded of King Crimson here somehow - and the music builds to a sharply angular guitar solo full of dive-bombing and other goodies...

Why am I writing about this track - listen to the streaming mp3!!!

If you like the mp3, buy the album (as cheaply as you can).

If you don't like the mp3, you don't like Prog.


Report this review (#59183)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best American Prog-rock classified album ever recorded; written mainly by one of history's greatest composers of all time: Kerry Livgren. One of the few albums that can change your life forever. One of the main ingredients of Kansas' music NOT found in most progressive music I've heard is HEARTFELT PASSION! Kansas in general makes most prog sound like "Math-Rock" without a clue to what they are trying to say. If I could only own 1 album; THIS would be it!
Report this review (#64671)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Kansas, sometimes the most overlooked band on this website. This album, their fourth release is considered to be their masterpiece. I have no qualms with this thinking, but to get a full understanding of this band you must listen to the previous albums that lead to this one and that introduces you to their final concept release, Point Of Know Return. Take my advice and listen to all before judging !!!!
Report this review (#66078)
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Highly regarded as Kansas' masterpiece (with good reason), this album sounds just as good today as it did back in the 70's. Leftoverture also boasts as having one of the best album openers in history with "Carry On Wayward Son". Sure, we've all heard it a ton of times; however, when you view the overall body of work in Leftoverture, "Carry On..." is a perfect way to kick off the album. Excellent groove in the middle with Ehart and Hope supplying that classic rhythm section.

I've always considered "The Wall" as one of Kansas' best song. Walsh is such an emotional singer, and the way his vocals start off soft and then just take off gives me goosebumps. Absolutely one of the best voices in music history!

"Cheyenne Anthem" is another song that sticks out. I never really think of how much I missed Steinhardt until I listen to Leftoverture. He's got great moments throughout the album, but his vocals and violin truly make this a beautiful track.

And, of course, you cannot forget "Magnum Opus". A true progressive classic that showcases Kansas as a group of world class musicians. That classic and wicked bass solo towards the beginning with Dave Hope just hits you in your innards. Today's incarnation of Kansas has Billy Greer, who provides great accompanying vocals; however, when it comes to the bass, then it's hard to top Hope. He's such an underrated bassist...and he and Ehart worked perfectly together.

Report this review (#70741)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
5 stars There have probably been tens of thousands of reviews of Leftoverture in various magazine and newspaper archives (and now all over the web) since it released thirty years ago. One has to wonder if there is anything left to say. But I feel like trying anyway.

This album was all over the radio the year my family and I moved to Kansas, and it was the one that first introduced me to the band. During this time, Kansas (the band) could, and did, play to crowds of tens of thousands of rabid fans in Kansas (the state). The first time I saw them was the summer after this album released in Wichita Kansas, and the crowd of 15,000 or so booed opening act Cheap Trick off the stage just to get Kansas up there sooner. And this was only three years removed from their staged audition for Kirschner scout Wally Gold in a cowboy bar in tiny Ellenwood Kansas. Most fans were new, and hadn’t yet discovered the first three albums yet. Back then you couldn’t go anywhere in the state without hearing “Questions of My Childhood” or “Carry on Wayward Son” blasting out of the windows of nearly every car being driven by anyone under the age of twenty. Those were heady times for the band.

But on to the album. The first thing I’ll say about this album is that it is best listened to while in a large-engine car driven at the highest possible speed, and with no regard whatsoever for the personal safety of yourself or those around you. Or at least that has been my experience. A little organic stimulation doesn’t hurt either.

The first copy of this album I owned was on 8-track tape. Back then I had a pair of Nova 6 house speakers in walnut cabinets that graced the back seat of my 1974 Dodge ‘Hang-Ten’, which also had an in-dash 8-track player. Actually, a lot of kids back in Kansas had goofy getups like that. The point is, the 8-track version of Leftoverture was laid out completely differently from the album version (and at the time cassettes were really only for pussies). This was of course years before CD’s became the norm.

Anyway, the songs had to be arranged differently on 8-track to allow for a roughly equal amount of recording time on each of the four ‘programs’. The order on 8- track then, was

- Opus Insert - Miracles Out of Nowhere - Questions of My Childhood - Cheyenne Anthem - Magnum Opus - The Wall - What’s on My Mind - Carry on Wayward Son

So if you listen to the songs in that order (and while driving madly down a country road with dual 60-watt speakers cranked to ‘11’), you get a completely different feel than if you listen to the CD layout on an iPod in your college dorm room, or on your PC’s Media Player. The album sounds much more like Masque, which was recorded in the same Bogaloosa Louisiana studio the year prior. So I’ll comment on each track in this order, which I’m more familiar with. Amen.

“Opus Insert” has typical Livgren lyrics, “there’s a message in every word, and it’s more than the word you heard…”. The real beauty here is the very tight rhythm line Phil Ehart and Dave Hope lay down, perfectly accompanied by Steve Walsh’s voice at its prime, as well as his masterful keyboards. This is the Kansas ‘any-song’, as in it would have sounded good on any of their albums.

Walsh’s greatest vocal achievement has to be “Miracles Out of Nowhere”. Steinhardt is good too, but his violin work far outshines his vocals. Back then the band played this pretty much all the time in concert. Today Steve can’t hit the notes, but this is one song that just flat out thunders on a good set of speakers. This one should have been a single.

The “Questions of My Childhood” may have been intended as a single, and I’ve heard there was a video released, but this was pre-MTV so I never had a chance to see it. More incredible violin work here too, and Walsh just flat belts out the lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, this one is really an interesting work. Livgren wrote most of the songs on Leftoverture because, as he has said many times, he was “incredibly prolific” at the time. This was his pre-Christian period, but the guy was always rabidly searching for some kind of meaning in his life (myself, just being a juke-box hero at the time would have been pretty meaningful, but that’s just me). At the time he was living in his parent’s basement, years out of high school and spending most of his time and money just trying to eke out a living and hit the big time with the band. This is one of the songs that came out of a basement session while trying to put something together for their upcoming recording session. If you read the lyrics it almost seems to me like Kerry started each verse with his ‘searching without finding’ theme (“I don´t need to face a world of disillusion, I´ve come to one conclusion that I know you know is true; in the game of silent searching”), but since he wasn’t ‘finding’ at the time, Walsh came in and finished them as some sort of weird love song (“the cost of love is rising, and I´m just now realizing I´d be better of with you”). Come on, you try it:

Kerry – “Can you help me find the answers, can you tell the way I feel? Will you stay with me forever”: Steve – “just stay with me tonight, and we can talk about tomorrow if it all works out alright”.

See what I mean?

Maybe its just me.

“Cheyenne Anthem” has got to be the greatest song on this album, if not the best thing Kansas ever did. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over-the-top, but I am a Kansas fan after all – one should expect that from us. There’s a story that Walsh brought another song into rehearsal the day Livgren brought in Anthem, but after Steve heard it he wouldn’t show his song to the rest of the band. Walsh said years later that he never liked this song, and that the extended part on the middle sounded like music for a Warner Brothers cartoon. It might, but at the time the band was clicking on all cylinders for this one. The slow crescendo that builds with Walsh’s keyboards and Steinhardt’s violin is totally Ravel’s Bolero, but its so over-the-top that if you’re fifteen years old and full of testosterone, it can make you almost go Syd Barrett mad. This one is timeless and I still play it a lot early in the morning – much better than coffee.

“Magnum Opus” just demonstrates how on-fire Kerry Livgren was as an arranger during the recording of this album. The various parts are musical doodling from each individual band member, but put together by Livgren, they sound like the closest thing to a truly progressive work from this band that probably exists. This song stands with the best of the European music of that day, in my opinion.

Kerry has said in interviews that “The Wall” was the best thing he ever wrote for Kansas. I’m not sure I agree with that, but it definitely summed up the state of his mind at the time. I can picture him sitting in front of the beat-up piano his father bought him in his parent’s basement. He just spent two years playing roughly 500 concerts all over the place, having also recorded three albums in the space of less than two years. His management had the band on a tight leash to produce a commercially viable album to leverage the exposure they’d gained from constant touring. Yet Kerry was still ‘on salary’ for a few hundred dollars a month from the label, still toured in a crappy old school bus, and still lived in his parent’s house. The word ‘depression’ comes to mind. From all that, plus his obsession with deep thinking, comes a perfect synopsis of where he was emotionally and spiritually at that time. Three years before he takes the Christian plunge, he has previewed his ‘testimony’. Pretty fascinating, no matter what your religious persuasions.

“What’s on My Mind” is the one I always hoped was playing whenever my car’s speedometer hit 100 mph. I truly believed at the time that there wasn’t a note in human hearing range that Steve Walsh could not hit. He tried several of them on this one. These have to be Walsh lyrics, although the actual owner of them seems to be somewhat in question. This is just a rocker, much like “Relentless” and “Loner” from Audio-Visions (hmmm, “Relentless” was a Livgren tune).

There’s really nothing to add about “Carry on Wayward Son” that hasn’t already been said. Is there anyone alive in this world who even remotely cares about western music that hasn’t heard this song?

So anyway, enough rambling. I have tried very hard not to obsess on Kansas album reviews on the Archives, but this was a slow evening and I figured the time was right. Everyone who knows this album has well-formed opinions that probably won’t be changed, certainly not by the nostalgic ramblings of a aging forum troll. But this is one great album, and I didn’t even get into the great cover artwork.

Spring is coming, summer will soon be here. Get yourself a good copy of this one and stick it in your car’s stereo. If you don’t have a car, go find someone who does. Drive real fast somewhere desolate, and crank it up. Kansas may never have a place at the table with the elite of progressive music icons, but if this album can’t get your heart racing and your imagination flowing, you should probably check your pulse and think about making some serious lifestyle changes, because you have become either dead, or an old codger.


Report this review (#72097)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Before purchasing this album, I had only heard the few overplayed Kansas hits that are on the radio. I enjoyed songs like Carry on our Wayward Son, and Dust in the Wind, but i had never heard any of their other stuff. I was suprised when I heard this album because the songs that werent hits were even better than the hits themselves. This is the first Kansas album I have bought, but I look forward to getting more of their work.

If you have never heard Kansas before, this is a great sample of their sound. I highly recomend this to anyone who enjoys classic rock bands such as Boston, or Crosby Stills and Nash. Kansas reminds me of a mix of those two bands with progressive rock thrown in. It's a very nice blend.

Report this review (#73182)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A fantastic progressive album that most view as Kansas finest hour, I cant help but view with sadness. This album marked the end of Kansas' prog driven records as some of the songs on Leftoverture gained radio sucess. Tracks like carry on wayward son are american music classics. Anyways, what I'm getting at, this album marks the end of an era, and the end of the Kansas we all know and love. After this you move on to Point of Know Return, the last Kansas album that I rate above a 3 (until Somewhere to Elsewhere). Kerry left soon after this to take the management reigns of the band, crippling their progressive nature, and into a pop era (Much like Genesis, except Kansas' pop attempts weren't very POPULAR). Band reshuffling, and periods of unrest made the 80's and 90's forgettable. Then a miracle came out of nowhere and Somewhere to Elsewhere was released, reminding all of us how fantastic kansas is.

Anyways, back to the album. This is one of the few albums ever released with out any holes within it. Sure, Questions of My Childhood isn't a classic, but it is an enjoyable. Spot on musicanship from all band members, especially Livgren, Walsh, and Ehart. Thoroughly enjoyable album that belongs in everyones album collection. Can't give this one a 5 though because even in this album Kansas is sliding away from prog towards pop, probably under coaxing from Don Kirshner for a hit.

Report this review (#73545)
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is a mixed reviw for this classic prog rock record. From the the fascinating guitar in "Carry on Wayward Son" a staple in classic rock stations and in my heart as one of the best songs I remember from that era equal to "Smoke in the Water" in giving me chills down my spine. To the perfection of "Magnum Opus" and "Cheyenne Anthem" who clearly show you who were the real masters of Progressive Rock in this part of the world. This is an important achievent and I think this was their last good studio record, sorry I didn´t enjoy POKR that much, so please grab a copy and hear the ancient masters do their thing.
Report this review (#74721)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars When I started to listen Prog at the age of 12 (Around 1976 or 1977), already the golden era of Classic Symphonic Prog had ended, Genesis was trying to survive without Gabriel and Hackett, Going for the One was not what some of us expected and ELP was not the same band than in 1974.

The only remaining founder of the genre still to reach their peak was KANSAS and what better way to start a long term musical relation than with "Leftoverture", the album with which the Topeka kids reached the perfect balance between artistic quality and economic success, something hard in Progressive Rock because only a few bands of the genre managed to be popular without selling out and KANSAS is one of this strange cases.

Still some people try to dismiss the achievements of KANSAS, I read reviews in which they are called Pomp Rock, rednecks or mediocre AOR band, mostly from people who don't have the knowledge of what KANSAS did in their early years and probably only heard Dust in the Wind.

One of one of the main problems with this guys is that they were born in USA and not in big city but in the heart of the tornado corridor and committed the crime to use a slight touch of their native music (Country) in their albums, but except for some snobs this is not a sin, by the contrary the perfect mixture of Symphonic structure with Hard Rock and even Country Music made of this album one of the richest expressions of Progressive Rock.

Another problem is that they managed to be successful, well this was forgiven in Pink Floyd, Yes and even ELP but of course not in KANSAS, but at the end who cares for negative opinions if we can let their music prove the contrary.

"Leftoverture" is simply a great album, not a single filler or weak track, of course each one of us has our favorite tune, but all the songs are solid. The particular and nostalgic sound of the band relies in their beautiful melodies and in the rare fact that they left keyboards in the background giving Robby Steinhardt's violin the main role of the performance, they can rock hard and bring tears to our eyes without any problem, as I said before, the perfect balance.

It's hard to chose a favorite track because all are extremely good, but I always had a soft spot for "Miracles Out of Nowhere", the vocal duet between Robby and Steve Walsh in the peak of his vocal abilities is amazing, we're talking about a wonderful song, incredibly complex combined with a beautiful melody as few tracks in the genre.

Other great songs are the classic "Opus Insert" where Steve Walsh's voice is really amazing, after listening a few months ago I can't believe he was able to reach such a variety of different ranges without any problem and his work with the keyboards is also impeccable. Wouldn't be fair if I didn't mentioned Phil Ehart's perfect timing and precision with the drums, an underrated percussionist.

"Cheyenne Anthem" is another example of great and complex Symphonic structure that starts a bit soft, making us expect it's a nostalgic ballad about the native Americans but then the piano and Steve's vocals leads to a breathtaking instrumental section where KANSAS hit the listener with all they have and to close it Robby Steinhardt and his magic classical violin with a slight taste of country music add the required drama, another brilliant track.

Of course I can't forget about "Magnum Opus", a song that proves KANSAS released extremely elaborate music, dramatic time changes, synchronized team work between Robby plus the keyboards by Steve Walsh and Kerry Livegren. It's simply unbelievable that after listening this masterpiece, still some people want to lump them with all the AOR USA bands from late 70's/Early 80's,

I don't need to talk about the rest of the songs because there are enough reviews here and only must add that if you're not afraid of nostalgic and sensible music, with extreme Hard Rock sections, this is your album but if you believe that popularity and melodic Prog suck, better don't buy "Leftoverture" because you will be disappointed.

I'm in the first group of Progheads and honestly believe this album is a forgotten gem that should be in the top 10 or 20 albums of any Progressive Rock catalogue.

Five solid stars for a solid album.

Report this review (#81168)
Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars From the beggining you can see with open eyes that band is not from Europe. Kansas has an unique american sound, you can recognize from miles, this sound define later on the american standards in prog music. After all Kansas did a great job on this album. Well done, full of complex music, intristing arangements, Magnum opus is one of the best prog tracks i ever hered, and one of the best from them, no doubt. A 4 star album, check it worth a couple of spins. One of the best from '70, in my opinion.
Report this review (#84530)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the breakthrough album for Kansas, lyrically and musically it´s hard to beat. The album opens with "Carry On Wayward Son" which I´m sure almost everyone has heard! Strangely enough this was the last song that was selected for the album, and just as well because it became one of their biggest hits worldwide.

"The Wall" is a true classic. At a young age Kerry Livgren was looking for spiritual enlightenment and this is reflected in his lyrics..

"The moment is a masterpiece, the weight of indecision´s in the air It´s standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that´s me It´s just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me I want to see"

Definitely one of Livgren´s strongest compositions. A fine performance by Steve Walsh!

"What´s on my mind" is probably the most straight forward rocker on this album, with Steve Walsh sounding a lot like Paul Rodgers of Bad Company (Rodgers is one of Wash´s favourite vocalists)

"Miracles out of Nowhere" has some beautiful acoustic segments and some great lyrics. I especially like the part where he describes someone´s mother

"And though your body´s ailin´you, your mind is just like new Tell me where you´re going to?"

"Opus Insert" has some very comforting lyrics telling us that the spirit is surrounding us all! Some people say that lyrics aren´t that important, but in the case of Kansas, the lyrics are one of the best things about this band!

"Questions of my childhood" is another song with spiritual lyrics and beautiful musical time changes to accompany them.

"Cheyenne Anthem" is one of Livgren´s songs dealing with the mortality of man. Steinhardt shares the vocals with Wash on this one. This is a song that gives me goose bumps!

The album closes with the epic "Magnum Opus" , an instrumental divided into six parts. This is an amazing musical journey (especially on headphones)

One of the greatest albums ever made.

Report this review (#84632)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars There seems to be a great divide among the reviewers of this album. On one side, you have those Americans who give 5 stars out of Patriotism and Pride- Kansas was probably one of the best things going in American prog. Then you have the Eurocentric prog fans who, like the rest of their European comrades, make American bashing the national sport and give this album 2 or 3 stars.

I find myself caught up in the middle. I am a proud America who likes (and understands) the music of Kansas. But I also recognize that America was and is light years behind Europe (particularily the UK) when it comes to making the music I love. Still, when compared to some of the worst of Europrog(think Zeuhl), Kansas is pretty darned good.

The good: As a collection of songs, this album is really good. You have "Carry On Wayward Son", of course. "Opus Insert" is rather good. And I've always had "Miracles Out of Nowhere" as one of my personal favorites- I love the keyboards in the middle of the song.

The bad: Not really bad, but I just think more could have been done with "Magnum opus".

The ugly: Is it just me, or does it seem like the circus interlude in the middle of "Cheyenne Anthem" messes up what could have been the best song on the album ?

This was a difficult rate in terms of the number of stars to give it. Clearly, if there is to be an essential album of Prog by an American band, this should be it. But it does seem to be missing something. Still, it is a great album, one which is worthy of 5 stars as an essential album of Progressive music.

Report this review (#84904)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everything has been said about this wonderful album, though I have to add that there is not really weak moments.

And Kansas really could made Wayward Son a huge hit back those days, and it's pure prog song. My personal favourites are Wayward Son, Questions of My Childhood and Magnum Opus. Hearing this album just drives you into good mood. 4˝ so -> 5. A must have!

Report this review (#86401)
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tons of positive reviews have already been posted on the site but I feel obliged to say one more time how brilliant, incredible and fascinating this album is. Kansas surely reached their peak with Leftoverture and even if Carry On My Wayward Son and Miracles Of Nowhere are the most famous tracks (for good reasons), each song of the album is a jewel. And when I say jewel, I really mean it. All the songs reach a level that is very rare to listen to in all domains like composition, poetic and intelligent lyrics, arrangements, perfect technical playing, power and emotion. But the perfection comes with lots of excitement for whoever the listener is, prog over or not. The band achieved completely in making a real symphonic prog album that is easy to listen to. So, obviously, a complete success musically and commercially which was really deserved.

Buying Leftoverture should be paid back by the National Health System for its positive effects on the mood.

Getting such a masterpiece has no price, if you don't already have it, rush to the nearest music shop and buy it at all costs!!!

1000 stars/5

Report this review (#87728)
Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars To even hint that Kansas is an impostor in the prog world is ridiculous. First and foremost, rock music is an American creation and the existence of this very web site is primarily justified because of rock music. Rock and Roll is the tree and prog is one of its many branches(and within the prog world there's even further branching).

That being said, I don't buy into the notion that ALL prog must be a British offspring in order for it to be considered a legitimate child. Before there was King Crimson, Yes and everyone else from the UK, there was Zappa. Arguably, Frank's work single-handedly epitomizes progressive music. Take a look at the top of the progarchive page and you will see links describing most of what is considered "progressive", and if you know anything about Zappa you know that he composed for all of those subgenres, and then some!

OK, so if this is a Kansas review why am I talking about Zappa? Well, we need to keep the American perspective when considering a CD like Leftoverture. First and foremost, this record is about as American as it gets. Most of the major, catchy riffs on this record are derived from well-worn American rock and roll standards and not from British folk music. Like early Genesis albums where their British folk roots oozed off the vinyl and the band members wore their "Britishness" proudly on their armbands(the battle of epping forest), Kansas proudly showcases their American heritage on Leftoverture.

Leftoverture has PLENTY of folk influences, but not of the European variety. One must understand and appreciate the cultural and historical makeup of the American Heartland in order to fully comprehend how progressive Kansas was on Leftoverture.

The music on this CD fuses hard rock with American "cowboy music". Whether or not this is to your liking(for musical or political reasons), you cannot refute that the cowboy and pioneer is an American tradition and for some, to this very day, a way of life. Vast, open spaces filled with corn fields and cattle as far as the eye can see, spotted with small towns where the center of the community is the church. Good or bad, that's the way it is in the American Heartland and very few bands got as close as Kansas did to exemplifying that culture and bringing it to a higher, more modern and accessible level.

Leftoverture earns a no-brainer FIVE STARS for being what it is: A modern classic in American music.

Report this review (#89099)
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's a very impressive album musically. I am not one of those to claim that Kansas is not progressive enough to be here. Unfortunately, to me there is no melodic value. I've listened to this album repeatedly, and I always enjoy it, but once the album is over, I can't sing back any of the melodies, and the album goes forgotten until I see it again and give it another shot. A very good kansas album, but not a great album in the world of progressive music.
Report this review (#90920)
Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite from Kansas and one of my favorite albums of all time. The height of Kansas; an exquisite peice of prog rock. A breif overview of the songs:

Carry On Wayward Son - Exceptionally. This song alone prompted me to purchase the Best Of Kansas and was the start of my interest in prog rock.

The Wall - Well crafted and deep musically and lyrically. One of Kansas's best and most progressive songs. And excellent example of the band's majestic style.

What's On My Mind - Similar to Carry On with heavy, energetic and intricate guitar. Smooth and catchy.

Miracles Out Of Nowhere - One of my very favorite Kansas tracks. Blends a variety of instruments and sounds. Original and very progressive. Some of my favorite violin from Robby Steinhardt.

Opus Insert and Questions Of My Childhood - Both very good tracks, however they are the type of the songs you typically forget about. They are overshadowed by the deeper tracks on the album.

Cheyenne Anthem - A quiet acoustic guitar and piano track that is brilliant in its simplicity. The instrumental sythesizer section in the middle seems a bit out of place, but it doesn't really hurt.

Magnum Opus - An agressive and dramatic finish. One of the most recognizebly prog songs on here. A longish song devided into several humorously titled subsections. Another of the bands most exceptional tracks (there are quite a few of those on here), and a very satisfying close to a most satisfying album.

On the remastered CD, you also get the live versions of Carry On and Cheyenne. Good stuff. I actually like this version of Cheyenne better than the studio one.

I get the distict feeling that people who believe Kansas isn't very prog haven't heard this album. This is one of the finest presentations of prog rock that I know of. Highest recommentdations.

Report this review (#93416)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars Like most people I became aware of KANSAS through their massive hit "Carry On Wayward Son" a track that made them famous world-wide. Unfortunately like a lot of great tunes from the seventies i've heard it hundreds of times over the last 30 some years.There is definetly a mid-west American feel to this record, except for the song just mentioned along with "Cheyenne Anthem" and "Magnum Opus" which are not coincidently my top three tracks. The rest of the songs inbetween really don't do anything for me, in fact I dislike them quite a bit.

"Carry On Wayward Son" is larger than life with it's thoughtful and emotional lyrics and Walsh's powerful vocals that are accompanied with amazing guitar, piano and organ playing. I like when the heavy sound first comes in with organ.Then the guitar lights it up. Oh and that line "My charade is the event of the season" has always been a favourite. I'm just so tired of it.

"The Wall" has a nice guitar melody and well done lyrics. I personally feel that "What's On My Mind" and "Questions Of My Childhood" both sound a little dated. Love the violin on "Miracles Out Of Nowhere" though. "Opus Insert" is catchy. "Cheyenne Anthem" is a cool song (and my favourite) that doesn't sound like the others.The children's choir is a nice touch as well. The best parts are the beginning and ending. "Magnum Opus" is the proggiest tune which gives each member of the band a chance to show off their skills.

Just not a fan of this one.

Report this review (#96179)
Posted Sunday, October 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It was june when the first (small) summit of PA took place in my own town, Bassano. The first time ever in Italy. There were only me and Raffaella (aka Ghost Rider). She was there for a convention about tolkenian iconography and we went in my beloved progrock shop "Pickuprecords". While checking the huge amount of cds it happened we saw Kansas. Raffaella recommended me their Leftoverture album of which I had only listened a track or two, never intended to purchase it before. Strange thing, I don't even know why.

So I followed her recommendation and bought the record.

After so many listenings all I can say it that this is really more than an excellent record, borderline to the masterpiece status! Eight exciting tracks with a certain "Magnum Opus" as a closer. The title speaks for itself! Many shifting mood and accelerations. Wonderful keyboards' parts and aggressive electric guitar. This is really an all time classic!

I would like to add my personal appreciation after the many I've read on this site. Kansas are certainly one of the most relevant classic prog bands, with the positive remark of being so "american". In fact they don't seem to emulate any of the european Giants but offer a wise combining of dramatic scenes with sparse touches of humour. All based upon the US flavour. Their own way of prog, sure. But not only. My mind is captured when I listen Leftoverture and only now I can completely understand where even some contemporary- beyond-suspicion-european prog band took their inspiration. Just take an italian one like Il Castello di Atlante, for example. I always thought that their main references were Quella Vecchia Locanda for the use of violin. How wrong I was! Their sound appears, instead, to be "strangely" near to that of Kansas in the more "acoustic" interludes as in "Miracles Out of Nowhere".

In short, Leftoverture is only but the starting point for me discovering Kansas' respectable discography.

4.5 stars.

Report this review (#97723)
Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris H
3 stars This is solid American semi-prog and this album was a good weapon against overseas competition. "Carry On Wayward Son", which is probably the #1 karaoke tune in America, is the opener for this album, excellent song and it's absolutely something that people should remember. "The Wall" is another magnificent track, one of my favorites from Kansas, especially the closing keyboard solo. Kerry Livgren's masterful work is evident on every track, but most notably on "What's On My Mind". That opening riff is mindblowing!

Other songs, however, including "Questions Of My Childhood" and "Cheyenne Anthem" are disappointing tracks, and you should just skip them. Not terrible, just not worth the listen. "Magnum Opus" is an overrated track as well. I do not see the need to call it 'Magnum' as it is only eight and a half minutes in length. The two bonus tracks are nothing special, when I listen to this album I end it before the bonus tracks.

So all in all, like I said before, this is a solid prog album and it was one of America's only answer to the British progressive movement. I think the good outweighs the bad, but I can still only call it average.

Report this review (#104220)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ah, yes, the masterpiece of the American prog masters. Kansas' fourth album was released in 1976, an album that would possibly determine the fate of the band's remaining musical career. Kansas needed an amazing success to keep them attached to their record label, and they miraculously found it in Leftoverture. Kerry Livgren was able to keep the Kansas style while making the music more accessible (as well as inserting his recent Christian conversion), and consequentially, more popular. Though Livgren and Kansas were looking for a broader audience, it did not stop them from making an amazing prog album.

"Carry on Wayward Son"-Kansas' most overplayed and over commercialized songs. Though the song (ironically added to the album at the last minute) was not Kansas' best example of progressive rock potential, it became their first huge hit. And it's damn catchy too! Despite its more accessible feel, the song still has great music and excellent instrumentalists at its core.

The rest of the album highlights Kansas at their best. "The Wall" is a deep spiritual journey, and though slightly less intricate than previous Kansas songs of similar quality, it achieves the same emotional, epic appeal. "What's On My Mind" is another catchy song done as only Kansas can do. Following it is perhaps the deepest song on the album, "Miracles Out Of Nowhere" Coming in with skilful Violin, it fades into a guitar and haunting lyrics. Exemplifying the best they have to offer, Kansas produces a compelling and epical atmosphere. The addition of synth horns is a unique offering on the song. Next is "Opus Insert", an often overlooked song on the album, however, it stands strong like all songs on the album, with one of the most distractingly giddy instrumentals breaking its flow in the middle. Next is the also giddy and synth-happy "Questions of My Childhood", a short sporadic song before "Cheyenne Anthem", a beautiful perspective on American/Indian relations. Out of all the songs on the album, the haunting lyrics of Cheyenne Anthem stuck with me the most. The final chapter is "Magnum Opus", opening with percussion anyone would be proud of, the rest of the song takes off as a hectic movement through some of the most brilliant composition the band has ever done (thus the naming of it as an Opus-amazing!)

Leftoverture is Kansas at its best. Like all of their music, Kansas flawlessly stitches together progressive rock with elements of American country (though thankfully coming out as a unique sounding prog rock band) to create a masterpiece that will be remembered as their greatest work.

Report this review (#105627)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars At the time I purchased "Leftoverture" (in 1975) , I thought it was the follow-up of "Song For America" which I was really found of. In those days there was not that much publicity for a band like Kansas in Europe (I live in Belgium). The design of the cover artwork is rather creative and original.

"Carry On My Wayward Son" is a classic Kansas opening track : very good musicianship, high-pitched but strong vocals. Actually, a great hard-rock song. It will be one of of their standards for the years to come and their first real hit-single.

"The Wall" is a beautiful song : very melodious and charming more in the style of their earlier work. Vocals are quite emotional and the background violin is just superb. A wonderful piano break in the middle-part demontrates how refined this band could be. A really beautiful song.

"What's On My Mind" is a pure hard rock song. It reminds me of "Down the Road" : good riff and guitar break, great rythmics. Another Purple influenced track, I would say. With "Miracles out of Nowhere" we enter again into the world of Kansas : a longer composition, very harmonious vocals, mellow chorus, lots of research in the instrumental backgrounds. But something is missing to make it a real great song. Maybe too sweet, although the last 1'30" is quite rocky and really fabulous.

B-side of the vinyl starts with "Opus Insert". Another good rock tune : at times heavier but almost classical at others. Nice finale. The intro of "Questions Of My Childhood" is rather promising but the song as such is probably the weakest track of the album (but there is always a weaker track on an album, right) ? This works almost as a filler but since the track is very short, there is not too many damage.

I would have hoped more from "Cheyenne Anthem", a vibrant homage to this great Indian nation extermined by the white man. Even if the lyrics are explicit, the song is mellowish and a bit (too) repetitive. The second part features a nice instrumental break.

The closing number "Magnum Opus" stars with a "Indian" flavour. Great and extended musical intro (like they produced on "Song For America"). At itmes, this number sounds as if Keith Emerson is playing the keys (a bit pompous if you see what I mean). It is a complex song with lots of theme changes. Hard-rocking for most of it with strong guitar work. Most of this number is instrumental (which is fine with me). Very strong and (almost) violent second half. A very nice way to close this good album.

At the time I purchased this album, I far much preferred "Song For America" (probably their progiest effort) and was a some kind of disappointed with this one. At the time of this review (some thirty years later), the same impression applies. Although there is not a single weak track, true highlights are too scarce to make this one a masterpiece. Still, a very good and solid album. The remastered CD features two live versions of which "Cheyenne Anthem" sounds pretty good. Four stars.

Report this review (#118218)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Blessed.

There are very few times in life when things appear so easy and you feel that everything you touch could turn to gold. I guess that Kansas was in that kind of a dream-come-true-situation when they entered the studio to record Leftoverture.

This album is Kansas's fourth one, recorded in a highly creative period for the band that saw them release seven LP's in seven years in their original lineup.

I am often reluctant to use superlatives because I read too many reviews that were stuffed with them and led me to a huge disappointment when I listened to the music afterwards. But in this very case .

Tell me that you don't fake-bass play when you hear Dave Hope's first notes on "Carry On Wayward Son" .

Tell me that you don't close your eyes when the piano enters in "Cheyenne Anthem" .

Tell me that the first guitar solo of "Magnum Opus" doesn't flow directly trough your veins .

Tell me that "The Wall" is not one of the most perfectly crafted and moving songs ever .

Tell me that you don't shake your head to the folky guitar of "Questions of my Childhood" .

Tell me .

OK, enough said. You have understood that I like this record very much. Some people may argue that it is too poppy or easy listening in places but I see its accessibility - although it could take you a few listens to enter certain songs- as one more quality amongst countless others. Unlike most of the band's other albums, I don't even find it dated -but I guess it will appear so to some people.

I am far from being an expert of american prog rock but, from what I know, this is the absolute masterpiece of the genre. If, as a newbie to Kansas, you try this one and dislike it, there is no point to go further because you won't find anything better in their discography .

Report this review (#119772)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The opening tune Carry On Wayward Son still gets played on the radio from time to time it has never worn out its appeal, though southern rock influence can be heard in this tune so can a definite prog rock tendency, that is the reason why later on down the track artists like dream theater & Yngwie Malmsteen cover this tune but nobody does it like the original band and writers Kansas did back in 1976 it is a classic in the true sense of the word The Wall is next and it is an introspective spiritual song that seems to allure and move the listener in a profound way , this title The Wall came along well before Pink Floyd's The Wall, and although Floyd's work is very good it wont make your spirit sore like Kansas can. The Wall in many ways defines Kansas its warm & symphonic with profound lyrics sung beautifully by Steve Walsh. Whats on my mind is a solid rock song with a zeppelin like hook to it Phil eharts drumming is a strong point to this song once again Walsh's voice is brilliant. Miracles out of Nowhere is the song that probably sticks in your head the most, it starts off nice and simple and evolves into a prog monster the ending verges on being metal with a big Gong sound at the end, brilliant, this song has mystical type lyrics. Robbies violin is a beautiful feature in this song, the middle section the Kansas keyboards are so well arranged then the drums come in it is fantastic ! Opus Insert is another classically leaning rock song with bite and great hooks, Walsh's vocals again make this another great moment in the CD Questions Of My Childhood is a short yet upbeat fun song its probably the perfect little filler to serve up the next prog monster Cheyenne Anthem a beautiful acoustic guitar starts this song along with a beautiful keyboard line that's sure to etch its way into your subconscious. The words to this song are very evoking and somehow you gain a new perspective of what the Cheyenne Indian must have gone through and how they suffered at the hands of the white man. In the middle of the song there is a musical battle keyboards fighting keyboards guitars fighting guitars and the drums weave wonderfully from one side to another this is stunning ! then in a flash there's silence .. .. ... the guitar starts with the vocals the music keys etc start to build the song climaxes and fades with Walsh"s vocal outro fading into eternity ... wow Magnum Opus is the best instrumental Kansas ever did. The toms beats their tribal rhythm a keyboard line then sits on top and the whole band comes in classically oriented prog at this point with slight blues undertones then ... "This Foolish game is still the same the notes go flying off in the air" my goodness am I in heaven ? this is Godly this moment leads us to some crazy insane over the top progressive stuff that's so complex its amazing this leads us to a slower sections.. building faster faster I mean faster .. it blows and the band charges ... wow the end bit is the same chord structure to the start so perfectly thought out so well executed.. Leftoverture is probably one of the greatest prog CD`s ever made .. in fact its one of the best CD`s ever made expect to get into this CD infact if you do get into it expect to change as a person in many ways, it is that strong an album
Report this review (#123135)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Taken as a whole, I find "Leftoverture" to be an excellent, if somewhat overrated album that strongly straddles the line between radio-friendly accessibility and the progressive dynamics in response to their more experimental peers at the time overseas. The song writing, and especially instrumental performances are first rate. Bass and guitar standout for me, with the keys becoming very cheesy and overwhelming as the songs pass by; Ehart's drumming didn't leave any impression on me (which is usually a bad sign). The obvious hit of "Carry On My Wayward Son" steals the show with a splendid combination of hard rock and complex composition, but successive tracks hit the mark more often than not. Low points are usually when the listener gets frustrated with the repetitive pitch of the vocals, but fortunately the band throws in enough instrumental highlights to out-do any serious damage caused by shrill singing.

The end result is a unique sound which many will enjoy, even those whose first exposure to "Carry On..." was in the credit sequence of the movie "Anchor Man"; however, "Leftoverture" hardly deserves to be rated as high as some of the other pillars of progressive music-- there simply isn't as much going on here as in most of the other greats.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 3 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Report this review (#138666)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An excellent classic rock album that morphs into a definite keeper prog record. I have to say that I don't find this to be the peak of Kansas' career--I would refer those interested to their first couple of albums. But although the highs aren't quite as high as in albums past, they are much more consistent and coherent here, and in my mind the music is diverse and creative enough to warrant inclusion to masterpiece, must-own status.

Carry On Wayward Son, The Wall, What's On My Mind. Here are the classic rockers, one of which would become a radio anthem staple and included in hundreds of generic classic rock compilations. The other two are quite good as well, and the highlight for both is hearing Walsh at his absolute vocal pea, at least in my opinion. Catchy and fun, Wayward Son is the only one that's a bit progressive.

Miracles Out of Nowhere. Let us commence with the prog! Slightly shifting time signatures, a great melody, a Gentle Giant-ish groove in the middle, and a killer upbeat finale: that's a great combination, which makes for a very memorable song. Just another case of Kansas not getting the respect they deserve.

Opus Insert, Questions of My Childhood. Two shorter tracks as a warm-up for the closing songs. The former has a circus-like middle (a mild ELP influence?) section that doesn't quite work, and the latter is a simplistic, bouncy tune that's enjoyable every time. Not too much substance here, but I never feel especially compelled to skip them.

Cheyenne Anthem. Native American history and ruins being an interest of mine, I am very happy that a band like Kansas is willing to give respectful attention to these issues. Moving and captivating, this is a good progressive tune, though not on par with Song for America.

Magnum Opus. Too bad their true magnum opus (opi?) had already been laid down on earlier albums, but this is no slouch either. Original all the way through, Livgren saves the best for last with a creepy keyboard build to an explosive keyboard/guitar volley for the finale. Again, Kansas show they know how to end an album with energy and style!

Great prog album, with some fine classic rock to boot. Just don't form your opinion of Kansas based solely on this album, because I think they have more to offer than we get here.

Report this review (#139226)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars It´s hard to write a review about such acclaimed and classic album. Too many reviews already, but I felt the need to give my opinion. And I still think that Kansas best hour was when they released Point Of Known Return. But it´s undeniable that Leftoverture is not very far behind. The band was maturing its own sound and the mix of heavy guitars, country harmonies and prog keyboards was very original at the time. Not too many people recognized that at the time, but I was glad this album was a big hit. It showed the world America had its prog scene as well. And one hell of a good band to prove it!

The track list to me is still a mixed bag, but it´s also made of fantastic tunes, even if the styles varies from song to song. The sequence is a bit uneven for my taste. Sometimes I feel like we are hearing different bands playing in the same CD. They worked much better this issue in Point Of Known Return. But... even if they sound different from track to track, they are all very good! Sometimes excellent. Carry On for exemple is more than just a hit. It is a classic that happens to be a hit. It broke new grounds and deserved all the credit it got, even if it was a bit overplayed.

All in all an excellent prog album. One of Kansas two that I think is a must have in any prog collection. 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!.

Report this review (#140841)
Posted Friday, September 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars New Zealand in the 1970s had a rather limited range of music available. Certainly I don't remember KANSAS in the record shops, nor do I recall ever hearing their hits on the radio. Perhaps they were. Whatever the reason, I never heard KANSAS until this year.

What I've heard has left me scratching my head. I know it's not my kind of music, but why? After all, many people whose opinions I respect adore this group.

'Carry On Wayward Son' is purportedly the band's most famous offering. Certainly my son (not wayward), a Guitar Hero II fanatic, recognised it instantly when it began playing. He loves it. So why don't I? I ought to: it has a killer riff, a wonderful hook in the chorus and excellent guitar. Trouble is, with all these ingredients KERRY LIVGREN hasn't actually put together a song. The verses are black holes which absorb any tension and excitement created by the splendid opening. And the sound itself is an uncomfortable juxtaposition of heart-of-America country rock and progressive rock. There's funk, country, rock and even a guitar/keyboard battle of sorts, all jammed cheek-by-jowl into five minutes. Perhaps if I'd been brought up with this music I'd be much more comfortable with it.

Sadly, this is the album's highlight. The best offering comes first, 'front-loading' the album: good for sales, but it makes it hard to keep the album on the turntable. Oddly, the opening track isn't really in the style of the rest of the album, which features as much keyboard and violin as guitar. What strikes me as I work my way patiently through this second-grade recording is how out of place it is. It's sort of a combination of TODD RUNDGREN and JETHRO TULL, odd as that sounds: dozens of naive little melodies tacked together in a whimsical fashion. Unfortunately, despite there being some nice bits, the result is not as satisfying as either RUNDGREN or TULL.

Worse, there are some real stinkers here. 'Cheyenne Anthem' has not stood the test of time lyrically: such sentiments, expressed by good ol' white boys, really sound insincere. Such 'noble savage' themes have been done far better by others (songs by BRUCE COCKBURN, and PETER GABRIEL's 'San Jacinto', come to mind). Nor does the European TULL-lite classical sound suit the theme of the song. The girlie chorus at the two minute mark is so inappropriate I burst out laughing the first time I heard it, as I did at the classical piano at the five minute mark. What relevance do either of these musical vignettes have to the Cheyenne? The song doesn't work for me on any level. And the humbly titled 'Magnum Opus', with a title that takes a full two minutes to scroll across my car stereo, goes nowhere. It's interesting, but simply doesn't connect with me.

I understand that this album is widely regarded as a classic, which is why I have given it a number of careful and patient listens. I've found enough promise here to be tempted to try a few more of their tunes - if only I hadn't been told that this is their best work. Forgive me, but I do not find this album sufficiently compelling to recommend to others.

Report this review (#141656)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, this is a magnificent album. Every part of this album was fine. And the album overall was strong. The combination of progressive and American music there in this album was fusioned perfectly, not like many of the progressive rock listener who didn't like this stuff.

The opening track, "Carry On Wayward Son" was classic and friendly enough to be hearded by common listeners. The second track, "The Wall" was lyrically and musically brilliant (much to the lyrics one). The third track, called "What's on My Mind" is very unique song that I like very much. "Miracles Out Of Nowhere" was a fine tracks too. "Opus Insert" was a brilliant symphonic song. "Questions of my Childhood" opens with a cool instrumental and goes with daily-based geniusly-written lyrics. "Cheyenne Anthem" no doubt has attracted so many progressive rock listeners with its colourful (espicially for the use of choir in this song) composition. And finally, the album closed with the longest track in this album, the magnum opus "Magnum Opus" (the title matches with its quality), this track was also the complexest song in this album. With 5 part and other progressive material there in this song. And the most'European-ish' song in this album to me.

As a not-a-die-fans-of-Kansas, this album is too perfect to be underrated. Overall,, 4 stars is fit to this album.

Hehe, I've read the review from my brother, Gatot, the die fans of Kansas from Indonesia, for this album. And I would like to say "Njih, njih. Monggo!"

Report this review (#145699)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Leftoverture is a masterpiece in my ears as it is nearly perfect, only What´s on My Mind is weak. Besides this one song every song on this fantastic album is a classic.

The album starts with the hit Carry on wayward son ( for some reason songs like these could be hits in the seventies. It would never have happened today) that has all a Kansas song needs. Great vocal harmonies, a good hard rock riff and beautiful keyboards ( organ). Next song The Wall is a beautiful song with one of the most memorable vocal melodies ever in a Kansas song. The album ends with Magnum Opus which is just a beautiful epic song. Everything just makes sense on this album. Steve Walsh has never sung more beautiful than he does on Leftoverture and everybody just seems like they´re having a good time and it shows.

If you´re new to Kansas or prog rock start here. This is a true masterpiece.

Report this review (#149684)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kansas' Leftoverture is an album that belongs in everyone's collection. And this is simply not because of the hit Carry on Wayward Son. Most of the album contains its symphonic prog elements especially the final track Magnum Opus (Brace yourselves everyone, this song rocks!). I think if only this song was on the album, I'd be happy but the rest of the album is great too. If you like genesis, yes and other prog rock bands of the 70's, this album is definetly for you. Enjoy!
Report this review (#164179)
Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Leftoverture, KANSAS's fourth album, released in 1976, is almost universally accepted as a Classic Rock Masterpiece. It is also considered the band's top progressive album, just above Song For America. Although there are not as many epic-length songs, the ones presented are highly arranged and orchestrated. Kerry Livgren (guitar/keyboards) wrote many of the songs on his own, a few more with Steve Walsh (vocals/ keyboards), and collaborated with the whole band on Magnum Opus. In fact Livgren was on quite a roll during the recording sessions for Leftoverture.

The album was the band's most successful effort up to that point, and kind of took them by surprise when it moved into the top five on the album charts. The band soon went from an "opening act" to their first headlining tour. Much of the bands success came on the heels of Carry On Wayward Son, which peaked at #11 and eventually became an FM Rock radio staple. It is easily one of my personal favorite songs of all time. Whenever someone tries to pick my brain on music trivia and eventually asks me what I think is the greatest rock song of all time; I'm quick to say, "Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son". It's got everything a good rock song needs. Great vocals, a punchy drum beat, good keyboards, and searing guitars all wrapped into one.

There is simply not a weak song on the whole album. Start to finish, it just keeps on delivering. From great Rock, to progressive masterpieces like Miracles Out of Nowhere, Cheyenne Anthem, and the epic- length Magnum Opus. If you don't own any KANSAS albums, this is definitely a good place to start.

***** Highly Recommended *****

This 2001 EPIC/Legacy remaster has two added bonus tracks. Carry On Wayward Son and Cheyenne Anthem "Live", both previously unreleased. These are nice additions to the original album that can one day be merged into a complete 2-disc set of Live Kansas when Two For The Show is eventually remastered.

Best Tracks: They're All Good!

Report this review (#165063)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars By far the best thing KANSAS ever did was assemble the four songs that make up side 1 of this album. They work together brilliantly. While the big hit and "The Wall" are both very good, "What's on my mind" and "Miracles out of Nowhere are the true highlights, featuring a mixture of uplifting hard rock in that American style with melodic prog in the British tradition. The ending of "Miracles" is simply a crowning moment for American progressive rock. Unfortunately, side 2 is very weak, the band having largely run out of ideas, with mediocre songwriting rendering some fine playing largely ineffectual. The best of the mediocre lot is "Cheyenne Anthem", which nonetheless fails to transcend. So, 4.5 stars for side 1 and 2 for side 2. It's nice having all the good stuff in one place, with the leftovers in a pile that can be hopped over. If you want to get one Kansas album, this could be it.
Report this review (#165452)
Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars (Originally posted on

Sad that people assume that Kansas is yet another throwaway late 70's early 80's arena rock band simply because their huge hit Carry on Wayward Son was hard rocking and appealed to fans of arena rock (even though if you look deeper, Carry On IS a prog song). These people who assumed this are either: A. retarded B. haven't listened to other Kansas material C. Didn't realize that they made Dust In the Wind which is far, far away from arena rock. Most of these people turn out to be either B or C, luckily. Anyway, on with the review:

This album is absolutely amazing. Every song is flawlessly composed and put into the right area. The album starts out with the hard rocking, fist pumping Carry on Wayward Son, which was (unintentionally) a huge international hit, and secured their popularity for the rest of rock existence. People think of this song as arena rock or poppy, but really, they're wrong. If you look deeper, you can see time signature changes, epic (and very good) lyrics (they were very good songwriters), a wide variety of instruments (and elaborate instrument playing), and three guitar solos and a keyboard solo. Very good song, just happened to be killed by radio overplay (As many great rock songs have been. Nirvana, anyone?)

The next song is more proggy, The Wall and has a religious theme. Very good, too. What's on my Mind could be considered the most pop song on the album, due to it's lyrical content, catchy riffs, and not as much complex instrumentation. They get very close to sounding like a Foreigner or Styx clone.

However, Miracles Out of Nowhere completely blows this arena rock skepticism out of the water. Starting out with an acoustic guitar, a violin piece (adding to their uniqueness), and a keyboard solo. Very good track. Opus Insert and Questions of my Childhood keeps up the pace, too...

...But The next two pieces don't, they go faster than the previous pace! Cheyenne Anthem is an incredible song. It starts out very folky, with acoustic guitars and keyboards in the background, but slowly builds up to multiple solos on guitars, keyboards, and even the violin, and this song, along with the next one, are some perfect examples of their original and unique wall of sound, which is when the violin, guitars, drums, bass, and the keyboards are all playing at the same time. Now on to the next song...

...Magnum Opus. The title fits perfectly. This could be the best musical piece they have ever done. Only a paragraph of spoken lyrics in the entire song, but the incredible instrumentation throughout just fits together like a puzzle. The slow, soft sounding drums slowly become louder with an organ softly emerging in, as if it's creeping up on you. And later, the guitars emerge as if they came out of nowhere, and the drums become harder, along with all the other instruments. The instrumentation thereafter can be described as nothing as flawless, and I'm not exaggerating, either. The slow, awesome sounding guitars playing alongside an eerie violin in the middle of the song just adds to the greatness of this song., and the instrumental playing slows down, and the lyrics start to emerge, as if it's another instrument itself. After the lyrics, some more great instrumentation, and some greatly arranged distorted guitar solos that add both texture and depth of the song, and the song slowly goes back to the same melody from the beginning of the song, as if it were a theatrical performance (which is what the album feels like).

Leftoverture is not only the best Kansas album, but in the top five of the best prog albums I've ever listened to. It's sad to see this album is fading away from the public eye, people need to get over the arena rock assumptions. Arena Rock is an idiotic statement, anyway. If it were a true genre, wouldn't the Beatles or the Rolling Stones be considered this because they played in arenas? Completely idiotic. Anyway, Kansas (along with Thin Lizzy) may be one of the most underrated rock bands ever. Definitely a must buy, especially if you are a prog fan. Every track is flawless, and they flow seamlessly through and they fit as if it were a theatrical production (as I stated earlier). Get this album NOW! No excuses...

Report this review (#166347)
Posted Friday, April 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a much maligned album, principally because some think that Kansas plagiarized the European(mostly English) prog bands. Read through some of the low ratings and you will find consistent criticism centered around Kansas being an American band who had no business playing progressive ROCK.

But wait a second! Wasn't ROCK music developed(to not use the word INVENTED) in the USA?! If so, how is Kansas ripping off the Brits?

Last time I checked the VAST MAJORITY of British progressive musicians were influenced by American jazz, blues or rock musicians. John McLaughlin, to name one of the top English progressive musicians, was highly influenced by blues and jazz guitarists from........the USA.

Now, putting that little history rant aside and jumping off of my soap box I will say that this is a GREAT album. It is indeed an album that epitomizes the American Heartland. This country was founded on the premise of religious freedom and if you've ever driven through those parts of the country you can FEEL the music of Kansas and know that it's sincere; whether or not you agree with their religious slant.

So, yeah, Kerry Livgren wrote about Christianity and his search for spirituality in spades throughout this record. He gets bashed, but Jon Anderson gets praised for saying: A seasoned witch can take you from the depths of your disgrace and he's considered profound! Go figure.

Leftoverture is nothing short of a masterpiece. It grates on many to hear American blues and country riffing on a progressive ROCK album. How ironic.

FIVE EASY STARS. One of the FINEST progressive ROCK albums of all time.

Report this review (#167690)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very hard for me to rate this one ,as KANSAS are considered as one of the top 5 prog rock acts in the US and ''Leftoverture'' one of the gems in the history of progressive rock...This album contains the ''Carry on my wayward son'' track,everyone has listened to it in the whole world,a nice accesible intro for the album, but surely not the way I consider rock as progressive...And the truth is that the first 3-4 tracks are good accesible rock songs with some prog elements,nothing more...Though the musicianship is outstanding I can consider none of them as a representative prog rock song...As the album flows,it becomes more and more prog...heavy violin passages,excellent instrumental themes but also some AOR traces that bother my ears...The closing track ''Magnum Opus'' is simply the way KANSAS should be playin' in the whole album, a symphonic prog masterpiece,one of the best songs I've ever heard...I wish the entire album could sound like this excellent piece of music...My final rating is somewhere between 7/10 and 7.5/10...
Report this review (#170253)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow! Never before have I heard such a wonderfull piece of Symphonic Prog that sounded so complete and together! Well, perhaps that's just my initial enjoyment running away with itself. Allow me to hopefully put this album in perspective:

The following bands are the only symphonic bands I have listened to thus far: Yes, Genesis, Ajalon, Anglagard, Puppet Show, Echolyn and Kansas. Out of those bands, the only band's discography I have really explored is Yes. Out of that knowledge, the only other album that may match or surpass the greatness of LEFTOVERTURE would possibly be RELAYER by Yes, but other than that, this album really seems to stand on it's own level of greatness.

This is the first Kansas album I have ever listened to, and I have no idea if the band's other subsiquent efforts are as good a quality as this opus, but I do feel that the band in general shows promise. They may never top Yes of course, simply because I still consider RELAYER and FRAGILE to be crowning achievements of Symph. Prog, however LEFTOVERTURE does indeed surpass the likes of HYBRIS and CLOSE TO THE EDGE in great strides. It is less pompous than it's counterparts, and for that reason, te overall listening experience ends up being much more enjoyable.

Alas, as I can see, this album got the highest rating out of all the Kansas works, and I'm very weary of venturing any further, because the steady decline of album ratings from this point on promises sure dissapointment. But I will be brave and continue forward; in the meantime I will relish the experience of hearing this album for the first time and remember the amazing feeling I experienced when Magnum Opus came on and floored me. LEFOTVERTURE is one of those rare occasions in which the album itself exceeds even the bands' expectations, and often times the magic can never be retrieved or repeated; it's almost as if a part of the band's genious dies as the album is born, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Had these moments never occured, we wouldn't have great albums like RELAYER, THE WALL, LATERALUS, MISPLACED CHILDHOOD, IMAGES AND WORDS, etc. While each of those subsiquent bands never made a better album than the ones given in my opinion, I would rather the albums be made than not be made at all.

And so it is with Kansas it seems and their album LEFTOVERTURE; however the jury is still out until I can lay ear on the abnd's other works, then if I still feel this way, it will solidify the five star rating I am giving LEFTOVERTURE. A true masterpiece if I ever heard one.

Until next time, happy listening.

Report this review (#171431)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars It's a dazzling venture that Kansas embarked on in 1974 with their self-titled debut, in throwing out an album so influenced by the European prog acts in such a conservative cultural environment that is the American heartland. But not only that, but also in having the guts to make use of that cultural heritage and incorporate its warm, earthy qualities in the sound of the band.

This leaves the band in a state of limbo, caught between two groups with extremely polarised tastes. It's no surprise then that many find Kansas to be a disappointment, and to be honest, that's an opinion I perfectly understand. But judging them on radio hits like Dust In The Wind and Carry On Wayward Son makes you no better than anyone complaining on ELP because of songs like Benny The Bouncer. Aforementioned hits are a part of the bands sound, yes, but they're not all there is to it, neither are they reasons to be concerned for those who love well-crafted, prog-tinged rock songs with stunning melodies and immediate catchiness.

No one have a problem with Roundabout, as far as I know.

Leftoverture differs from earlier releases in one important aspect. Where they were composed of distinct prog songs and poppier dittos side-by-side, Leftoverture is where Kansas masters their fusion and makes the different influences interwoven and intimate. They create a flow that's somewhat missing on say Masque or Song For America. It's a perfect blend of rocking, swirling symphonic, atmospheric and slightly quirky music that grabs the listener at heart from the start. As such, this is probably Kansas' most 'accessible' release alongside Point Of Know Return. Balanced in style, Leftoverture is also balanced in instruments. Keys of a multitude of colours, from atmospheric synths via crystal-clear piano to the familiar sounds of the Hammond organ never takes too much place, and their cerebral appeal is neatly counter-balanced by strong, often heavy (in a symphonic prog context) guitar, right along with rocking solos and quirky passages, all in the right places. But for me, Kansas greatest appeal has always been found in the bass playing of Dave Hope and Robbie Steinhardt's rich, romantic violin. Fans of vocal harmonies won't be disappointed either, as some of the best in the game can be found here.

There is a little of everything to be found on Leftoverture. Magnum Opus is the song that should open even the most doubtful listener's eyes to the capacity of the band. It starts with a mystical theme, with a slightly eastern feel. Silent synthesiser carry the first theme behind summoning drums, until the song unfolds in a symphonic outburst from all the members. Back to what almost sounds like a menacing, effect-carried bass and delicate bells and a lighter mini-solo from the guitar, this is where it really begins. Classic Kansas, with the band backing a soft-singing Walsh, it's suddenly surprisingly ballad-like. The rest is just instrumental madness, covering as many mood-swings, tempos and different parts as Yes would need an extra fifteen minutes to put together. It is dense, in other words. Fast, dense and relentless, this is a song that sums up what symphonic rock is all about in just eight and a half minutes.

The album would benefit from more compositions of this calibre, I can't deny it. Its greatness lies more in the talented fusion and sense of completion than on individual songs, some of the bombast, wall-of-sound approach and imagery found on epics such as The Pinnace, Song For America and Lamplight Symphony is therefore undoubtedly lost on Leftoverture. That's what makes me prefer Song For America.

Still 4 stars. Without doubt.


Report this review (#171460)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some people said that Kansas can be easily recognized by Carry on , or Dust in the wind , or many other successful songs during the 70's . But this was completely wrong , Kansas was the only , and i MEAN the only band TO BUILD a bridge for progressive rock to cross over the atlantic & vice versa . Just to give you dear proggers the right idea about this fact from my archieve , kept since 1970 for this purpose . Leftoverture was released in 1976 , Carry on was released two month before the album in 45 single version , and hit the top 100 in USA , the album wasn't able to do so . CBS , knew this fact , the european market was different in this reaction . Kansas supplied the european market with new blood , a new blend of heavy symphonic progressive rock , that could not be found in these markets easily , not even by YES & ELP . this reaction was in immediate basis in europe , but took more time for the americans to accept it . In 1976 , while visiting my brother in San Francisco , i couldn't find any tracks of progressive rock music in music stores , with the exception of some European bands . All albums imported from Europe for high price . That's why Kansas was accepted as a progressive rock band at the end of the 70's . I can't simply review a pop song like Dust in the wind , and avoid one of the best tracks ever Magnum Opus or cheyenne anthem to feel the difference . Historical & Magical Masterpiece to cross the atlantic & the mediterrenean to introduce a new blend of progressive ,,,,,,,,,,,,, Bravo Kansas & CBS , also Epic for remastering this excellent work ................................... not to mention the attractive cover full of meaning ........
Report this review (#171954)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kansas really did a great job on this album, but the melodies are sometimes far too predictable. 'Carry on a Wayward song' is a song with great riffs, and stunning vocals. The solo's are also very well, but the couplet and the chorus are too 'familliar'. Lots of songs have a standard kind of structure, but have very surprising instrumental parts. The solo's are really great and their is one highlight on this album: 'Magnum opus.' This is a quite innovative piece with lot's of complex melodies and time structures. It's a stunning piece, which really rocks. I think it's one of the best Kansas pieces. Four stars, I only think the melodies are a bit lame on this album at a few moments.
Report this review (#174788)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Lefotverture is the first of the two studio magnum opuses by Kansas - this album recaptures the powerful majesty of the Song for America album and capitalizes with the sort of energy that had been worked on in the less impressive Masque. The element of inspired writing appears on a top-notch stance (it is only a coincidence that Steve Walsh was undergoing a dry spell phase while Kerry Livgren was delivering his full potential); the fact that the writing will remain equally powerful in their next studio effort proves that the 76-78 era was the band's absolute pinnacle. The album kicks off on a catchy mood with 'Carry On Wayward Son', one of the most celebrated 70s rock anthems in teh history of USA's rock. Even though this track may sound similar in mood to the standards that were elaborated at the time by Boston, this particular track showcases a bigger dose of melodic cleverness and elaborated arrangements through the tightly ordained varying motifs - this extra complexity is controlled enough as not to kill the melodic basis' undisputed catchiness. 'The Wall' settles in next to expose yet another example of the symphonic essence that palyed such a big role in the evolution and golden age of Kansas: this beautiful progressive ballad displays a link to Procol Harum and Yes thanks to the emotional guitar leads and the elegant keyboard layers pertinetly augmented by Steinhardt's violin lines. This tale of mystical introspection is moving and majestic in pure Kansas-style, all the way toward its delicious anthemic finale. Track 3 is the least complex in the flock, although it bears an interesting set of chord progressions in the interlude as a resource of natural sophistication: the heavy GFR accent keeps it in a mainstream level. In contrast, 'Miracles Out of Nowhere' brings one of the most consciously prog-driven pages in Kansas' histtory - everything from the stylish intro to the solemn sung parts and from the GG-inspired interlude to the bombastic climax works as a unified whole of progressive grandeur. With less pomposity but similar prog depth comes 'Opus Insert', the track that opened up the vinyl edition's side 2: the bolero intermission (vibes included) and the spacey closure bear unhidden influences from teh chamber side of symphonic prog. 'Questions of My Childhood', dominantly penned by Walsh, brings an air of proggied country-rock: Walsh has written a number of tracks with this framework, and this one is arguably the most successful at it. A special mention goes to Steinhardt's violin deliveries, which create a perfect set of American Western colors to the mood demanded by the track. 'Cheyenne Anthem' brings back the majestic melancholy that had first appeared in 'Miracles Out of Nowhere' in combination with the solemnity of 'The Wall': the colorful interlude and the fluid succession of the sung portions state the perfect anticipation for the fantastic coda. At his point, the album has reached a captivating climax, but the top achievement of the album is incapsulated in its final 8+ minutes - this is where 'Magnum Opus' settles in to moe the listener's jaw down to the floor. The succession of motifs is set up beautifully: the psychedelic drive of the opening section, the ELP-meets-LZ high spirit of sections c and e, the eerie vibes that lead the way through section d and the fabulous spectrum delivered in the short yet effective coda bring some of the best North American prog rock ever. Even though this track's definitive version appears on the Two for the Show live set, this one works as the perfect ending for this prog masterpiece.
Report this review (#175292)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The perfect prog rock springboard for the diehard hard rock fans. LEFTOVERTURE boasts the classic tune ''Carry On Wayward Son'', the song that most hard rock purists will say is their best overall track. I say Wayward Son isn't the best track on the album, although it is their best that's considered a ''hit''. I actually feel that ''What's On My Mind'' is just as powerful of a rock tune.

Prog rock exists in the longer tracks, i.e. ''Miracles Out of Nowhere'', ''Cheyenne Anthem'' and ''Magnum Opus''. ''Magnum Opus'' lives up to its name on the album and was one of the first tunes I heard that utilized several themes in a short span, and Kansas is one of the few acts that can pull the tune off well. Easily the highlight for the beginning alone. The other two are so corny they're good, and the violin keeps everything from derailing.

I have some sympathy for this album as it was one of the first (in a comparitive sense) prog albums I really fell in love with. Well played and not too demanding, but for some progsters might see this as too commercial. I say this is the last of the great Kansas albums as they became more of an AOR band after this with prog influence. Start your Kansas trek here, but make sure to get the debut and SONG FOR AMERICA along the way if you like Kansas's prog moments.

Report this review (#175548)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Miracles out of Kansas

While the first three Kansas albums showed great promise and contained a lot of fantastic songs, these albums also included a few weaker moments. This is particularly true of the previous album, the uneven Masque. On that album, the band seemed not entirely sure yet of the direction they wanted to go in. On Leftoverture, by contrast, all of the pieces of the Kansas puzzle fell into place and they created with this album their first masterpiece.

Carry On Wayward Son and The Wall are two of the most well-known Kansas songs and they are standards of the band's live repertoire and have featured on multiple compilations. Miracles Out Of Nowhere and Cheyenne Anthem are likewise true Kansas classics. The entirety of the album is simply superb!

The next album, Point Of Know Return, is my personal Kansas favourite, but Leftoverture is an essential progressive Rock record. A must have!

Report this review (#178755)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album means many memories to me, so beware of bias. Hell, that is irrelevant anyway, it's such a good album!

Kansas's Leftoverture is criminally underrated in the world of prog, and especially ProgArchives. Why this band doesn't get mentioned more often is beyond my understanding, as they really were one of the great giants in the 70s along with Yes, Genesis, ELP, and the slightly lesser ones of Rush, Tull, and Gentle Giant.

1. Carry On Wayward Son- Now this is one familiar tune. Easily my least favorite on the album, but that doesn't mean it really doesn't rock. The keyboard and guitar interplay is fantastic and often overlooked because the song is so well-known. A wonderfully well-composed anthem with more complexity than you'd be deceived to think. 9/10

2. The Wall- This song is incredibly majestic and is Livgren's actual favorite composition with Kansas. It's easy to see why. The guitar is glorious in this track, along with the beautifully written keyboards. The vocals, drums, bass are also fantastic. What a wonder! 10/10

3. What's On My Mind- This is more in the vein of Kansas's rockier roots, but that doesn't make it any less good than the rest of the songs. This song seems to have been heavily influential to Boston and other bands to come. The interplay here as well is keeping the same level of craftsmanship. 9/10

4. Miracles out of Nowhere- Simply beautiful. If you ever find yourself denying Kansas's pedestal among the other prog giants, think again and listen to this composition. The keyboard counterpoint is wonderful, the violin is incredibly expressive, and everything in this song is perfect. Flawless. 10+/10

5. Opus Insert- Why does this song always get overlooked? Has to be one of my favorite songs from any prog classic of the 1970s. This song has it all! Amazing vocal harmonies, shifting time signatures, catchy and synth-laden keyboard parts, and of course.. the wonderful Wizard of Oz-esque march part in the middle that is simply musically amazing. Flawless. 10+/10

6. Questions of My Childhood- Wow, great keyboard work here! And try not singing along to THOSE vocals! This is really catchy, extremely addicting, and very well-written. Livgren has outdone himself 3 times in a row. The questions of my childhood weave a web of mystery! This is a delightful song. 10/10

7. Cheyenne Anthem- And it just keeps getting better, if that is even possible! This song is not near as upbeat as the previous track, but it is possibly even more amazing and touching. The song is again perfectly composed; it flows absolutely without flaw. My favorite moments are the children's choir and the amazing keyboard parts in the middle of the track. Flawless. Life has only just begun... 10+/10

8. Magnum Opus- Arguably Kansas's most progressive track. The guitar here is AMAZING! The structure is heavily progressive and experimental (by Kansas's standards or by mainstream prog, particularly U.S., for that matter). You couldn't pick a better closing song. 10/10

If you don't own this album, get it now. It is easily one of the too oft overlooked masterpieces of classic progressive rock.

Report this review (#188737)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Leftoverture is considered by many to be Kansas's crowning achievement, and with good reason: All eight songs are fantastic examples of progressive rock, and even the two or three tracks that could be classified as "pop-oriented" (especially the overplayed "Carry On Wayward Son") are great pieces of music in their own rights. Many believe that Leftoverture is Kansas's best album; they may be right- Leftoverture has sold over five million records. Because the album is the band's most consistent, it deserves recognition as a progressive rock masterpiece, despite an occasional small flaw. Because Steve Walsh was not producing much, this was definitely Kerry Livgren's moment of glory.

"Carry On Wayward Son" Opening with an a cappella rendition of the chorus, this song is a classic rock radio staple, and is largely responsible for the misconception that Kansas is a pop-rock band, despite the impressive catalogue of quality progressive rock work. Kerry Livgren introduced this song to the band just as they were finishing things up in the studio. The song is meant to serve as a sequel to "The Pinnacle," and seen in that light, it becomes less of the pop-rock song it is alleged to be, but the second part of a fantastic Kansas epic. One of the final lines in "The Pinnacle" is "Above the din I rose," while the first line of the first verse in "Carry On Wayward Son" is "Once I rose above the noise and confusion." There is incredible guitar work and catchy hooks, as well as a fine organ solo, so it should be our good fortune that radios picked up on at least this. It's a great song, and Leftoverture would not be complete without it.

"The Wall" The sudden guitar introduction is mind-blowing. The introspective lyrics refer to a man's struggle to overcome spiritual barriers in his life, a metaphoric wall keeping him from obtaining salvation, as it were. The words were written years before Kerry Livgren became a Christian, but they proved to be prophetic. It is an excellent, moving song.

"What's On My Mind" Kicking off with a ripping guitar introduction, this song is a heavy pop-rock track with a catchy vocal melody. The guitar soloing in the middle is some of the best Kansas has offered. "What's On My Mind" is a respectable short track with plenty of tight guitar riffs and a bit of fun.

"Miracles Out of Nowhere" Despite the title of the final song, "Miracles Out of Nowhere" is the magnum opus of this album. The whole album is worth owning if only for this widely overlooked masterpiece. From the opening plinks to that first cymbal crash, the listener is drawn into a mysterious and masterful blend of sound. The lyrics are some of the most imaginative and arcane Livgren has ever written, but effect feelings that are difficult to describe. The chorus is inspiring in many ways. The polyphonic middle section includes a smart and intriguing use of acoustic guitar, organ, violin, and other instruments; this alone validates Kansas's place among the symphonic rock masters. Steinhardt's voice in the bridge is haunting as it echoes over a sustained organ. The end of the song features a screaming and well-crafted guitar solo. The energy is high, even during the last several measures before the organ buildup that brings "Miracles Out of Nowhere" to a close. The subtle variations on the different versions (live and otherwise- see Always Never the Same) keep the song even fresher and more exciting. This is not to be missed; it is the song responsible for bringing me to progressive rock music.

"Opus Insert" While the name of this track eludes me, it's a very good short piece, again displaying Livgren's present spiritual state and prophesying (to a degree) where he would be. The introduction is wonderful, and the verse sections are pure-Kansas. Like much of Kansas's catalogue, it's an oft-overlooked splendid song.

"Questions of My Childhood" Although there are no really weak tracks on Leftoverture, "Questions of My Childhood" is the weakest song compared to the other seven. It's certainly a catchy tune, but it's a little too whimsical. However, the two-line turn at the end of each verse and the violin work saves this one from being one that is often skipped.

"Cheyenne Anthem" Here is a mournful acoustic guitar-laden piece that is the spiritual (and more progressive) father of "Dust in the Wind." It describes the plight of Native Americans being driven from their land despite any peaceful motivations. While Robby Steinhardt's vocals here are woeful and somber, Steve Walsh's singing is pleadingly chilling. Speaking of Steve Walsh, he has complained that the instrumental section sounds like the theme song to The Simpsons, and one can see his point; that part initially doesn't seem like a bad observation. The Lydian mode used in the middle part is similar to that used in the opening of the long-running sitcom. After a few listens, however, the majesty of the piece overwhelms any semblance to the theme music of Matt Groening's best work. After a while, it returns again to Steinhardt's sober vocals; strangely, the music ends on a hopeful reprise of the introduction. Regardless, "Cheyenne Anthem" is one of the best songs on this album.

"Magnum Opus" With the exception of the pithy "The Spider," "Magnum Opus" is the closest thing Kansas ever came to an instrumental. Originally, the title of the album and the title of this track were reversed; "Magnum Opus" is literally the leftovers of the recording and songwriting processes, fused together to create a nasty piece of music full of spiraling time signature changes and dark, menacing chords. On the one hand, it's similar to previous lengthy songs because of it's tight structure (even if the composition doesn't always flow as neatly as one would expect). On the other hand, the frantic pace of those minor and diminished chords, the haunting organ passages, the screeching violin, and those heavy electric guitars make this unlike anything Kansas has ever done.

Report this review (#189021)
Posted Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unexplainably overrated

Leftoverture is Kansas fourth album and it is viewed by many, alongside with Point of No Return, as the band's Magnum Opus, but after owning this album (and Point of no Return also, if that matters) for a bit more then a couple of years i still can't see how people say that they are THE BEST Kansas albums, let alone masterpieces of progressive rock.

Don't get me wrong here, I really like Leftoverture as a whole and think that it is an awesome album. The thing is, i don not think it is good enough for the masterpiece grade, i do not think it is Kansas's best material and i do not think that all the songs of the album are. . . well . . . masterpieces! That is because when it comes to normal albums, albums that are not concept albums and, therefore, should not be necessarily considered as a whole, i usually think about them in the song-by-song scheme and i give my grade considering each song's grade or quality. So, since i don't think all songs here are perfect, its not a masterpiece and, due to that, i think that this album is considerably overrated.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

Though Leftoverture is not Kansas's first step towards pop music, because since their debut they have simpler songs in their albums, it is with this very album that Kansas take a decisive step towards AOR and other radio-friendly genres alike, as we can notice wile listening the album's opening song, Carry On my Wayward Son, and its third song, What's on my Mind. That, however, does not means that the album is somehow worse just because they decided to reach for an wider audience, it just means that their AOR phase have its roots here.

As i said before, i do not think that all songs here are perfect. Though most of the album is very good, some songs, like What's on my Mind and Questions of my Childhood are just, somehow, silly and quite sub-par to the rest of the album's songs. Also, the song The Wall sounds way too much like a rocked up Genesis song to me.

Leftoverture also marks the beginning of Kansas's wall of sound, that consists of the violin, the guitars and the piano / synths / keyboards playing in unison.

The highlights go to: Carry On my Wayward Son, The Wall, Opus Insert, Cheyenne Anthem and Magnum Opus.

Grade and Final Thoughts

OK, so, when it comes to music, the best selling albums are the best, right? WRONG! Although it is understandable why this album have such a good grade (it is Kansas best selling album so far, after all), i can't see why so many people see this as their best. It is just a very good album, that's all. So, 4 stars to Steve Walsh and friends.

Report this review (#201930)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here I am, just waiting for a sign...and Kansas gave us one with this album.

To be honest, I am a malignant Kansas fanboy. I think that, behind CTTE, this is the best symphonic prog album ever created, and to boot, I like Kansas more than Yes. With all that being said, I think that this album is sorely underrated on this site. It's on par with some of the other classic prog albums of the 70s. I think that if Kansas hadn't gotten started as late as '74, that this wouldn't be the case, and they wouldn't be a gem that was gently shoved to the side to make more room for Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, etc. I also think that, being from America, they weren't originally associated with the prog movement, something that started off inherently British.

This truly is one of my favorite prog albums, and it really speaks to me in a way that a true masterpiece would. At times, it feels like much more than that. This is one of the first prog albums that I ever heard, and one of the albums that helped me come to like this genre of music. It has all the traditional symphonic elements of prog at their best, and packs the hard rock punch that makes this music so endearing, so emotional, and (almost) so spiritual. I could go on and on and then on some more about every aspect of how this album claims a right as being considered one of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time, but I won't. My favorite tracks on here would have to be What's on My Mind, Miracles Out of Nowhere (my favorite Kansas song), Cheyenne Anthem, and Magnum Opus. If you don't already have this masterpiece that rivals the classic albums put out by the British and other Europeans prog giants, this should be a high priority for your ears. As far as I'm concerned, this album has no weaknesses, and I fail to see why some people think this is overrated. This is 5 stars, and a highlight of 70s progressive rock.

Report this review (#201933)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was one of my first progressiva rock albums. At first, I just liked Carry on the Wayward son, a really great mix of progreesive rock and AOR. It's definitive one of my faovorite rock songs of all time. However, don't excpect the whole album to have this kind of sound, the rest of it is more harmonic and symphonic with violins and keyboards joining the organ and the electric guitar. Right after the fastest song comes the slowest, the beutiful The Wall. Accoustic guitars, keyboards and an organ makes up for a great track. Whats On My Mind follows. It's much like the first track, but somewhat slower tempo and as good, even if it's a very good song. Miracles out of nowhere is one of the best songs here, maybe even better than Carry On the Wayward son. It's a symphonic track with many violins, electric guitars, keyboards and basicly everything this album has to offer. One of those really excellent moments in prog when everything fits right in and forms an epic masterpiece. I would call the second haft of the album somewhat weaker. Not as many differences between the songs, and a slightly over pretensious feeling over some of them if you aren't in the right mood. However all songs are good, with Magnum Opusand Opus Insert being nearly as good as Carry On... and Miracles Out Of Nowhere.

With at least three song being some of the finest in prog rock history and with all songs being classified at least very good, this album certanly deserves the five star ranking.

Report this review (#205626)
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Soaring ever higher.

Kansas' best known album is definitely known for a reason. Often considered the peak of their career as the leading American Progressive band this is an album to buy and cherish, for sure. While it doesn't quite reach the levels of some of the other progressive acts that were coming out at the time (even if it was released at a time of musical turmoil for most bands), it does have a certain feel to it that just makes it so enjoyable to listen to. It's a warm, embracing album that is highly uplifting, symphonic and still approachable at the same time.

Both sides of the album are incredibly strong, and worth listening to repeatedly. Most people likely know the album from the single to be released from it and likely the 'biggest' song ever to be released by Kansas. Clocking in at just under 6-minutes, the band opens up the fray with Carry On Wayward Son, a song that is, by itself, highly influential, catchy, memorable and hard to wear out. Also on the first side is the incredibly noteworthy The Wall, another one of those tunes that sounds simply larger than life and highly motivational thanks to the keyboards and emotional guitar playing led by some very noteworthy lyrics. Ending off the first side is yet another standout for the album, the heavy and charging Miracles Out Of Nowhere with its memorable reprise.

The second side is likely the one to get the most attention from prog fans, being that it has some of the band's lengthiest and best known (from a prog standpoint) tunes on it. Magnum Opus is likely the one that most people will be looking forward to, and it actually bookends the side thank to the impressive Opus Insert that starts the side off with a bang. Magnum Opus itself isn't the band's lengthiest tune to date, but it is a good one, and at 8-minutes in length, most of which being instrumental madness, it's very much one to look forward to. Also on the second side is the ever impressive Cheyenne Anthem, likely the darkest song on the album, but still an excellent song to rock out to while maintaining all the complexities of a more 'traditional' prog arrangement.

Being that this is an album with many near religious followers it's hard to add anything to it than that. But when all's said and done it's an excellent release that makes a great addition to any progressive library. 4.5 stars! A hard one to give the full mark to (for, honestly, inexplicable reasons), but definitely a deserving album, and a classic one at that. Highly recommended - and essential for Kansas fans (though they already knew that).

Report this review (#207864)
Posted Friday, March 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dave Hope's melodic bass lines are a consistent highlight of Kansas' greatest--and most signature--album. A major contributor mentioned that Hope is underrated as a bassist, but I would add that his bass is somewhat equally underrated as an element in Kansas. Much more is said about Steve Walsh's singular vocal tone, or the vocal harmonies, Robbie Steinhardt's lovely--or lively--violin, or even the multi-instrumental wunderkind Livgren, who practically wrote this album by himself (at least the first drafts, as Walsh was in a slump at the time).

But as much as I love the violin or any of the other stuff, I remember the rock-bottom bass solo in Father Padilla, the de facto lead instrument in Howling at the Moon--or any of the other bright and atmospheric bass tones that color the various following segments of Magnum Opus. I also remember that when they're layering the instruments in one by one in the interlude for Miracles out of Nowhere, Hope's bass, when it comes in, just kicks it into gear. And in all the other songs with a bass line capable of carrying the rhythm, but dying to sing. Like on What's on my Mind, where the bass dutifully keeps the beat, but can't help filling in the corners every chance it gets.

I mean that I can literally spend an entire Kansas album listening for this guy's bass line--and I'm a guitarist!

Well, I guess I might say something not about the bass. Carry on Wayward Son will always be a favorite from this album. It's the song that got me into them and from there into prog--mainly via a creeping appreciation for the strangeness of Magnum Opus. But that's the song that started it all. A tasty solo starts off The Wall. It holds up well despite being Livgren's typically searching lyric What's on my Mind is a nice rocker and a fun song. Miracles out of Nowhere is one of the better Kansas songs--and the round during the bridge is one of the reasons. Opus Insert is a pleasant, spritely tune that shows off some proggy goodness. Questions of My Childhood is probably the weakest song on the disk, except some nice punchy lines from a certain instrument mentioned above.

Cheyenne Anthem has to be the next major highlight of this album. It's quite a lovely multi-part suite. Good vocals by both Walsh and Steinhardt--balanced, just like I used to prefer it. I've already said a bit about the last song, perhaps the best song Kansas ever recorded, Magnum Opus. The only thing I have to add is that Livgren's (?) solo during the Gnat Attack segment is still one of the more awesome things on this album.

The only thing left to mention is the savage beast behind it all (in more ways than one), beating the daylights out of his drum kit. Ehart is no Bruford, but he keeps a solid beat including the odd ones, he's lightning fast, he can change up a beat, and has a nice touch.

Report this review (#224181)
Posted Thursday, July 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Why does everybody say Leftoverture is such a great album? Leftoverture does not deserve it's rating at all. The album is OK, it has some nice songs, and the band plays well and all, but seriously, what else is there to this album? There isn't a lot of complication around here, it's too acoustic and less proggy than you would think it would be.

The album opens with Carry On my Wayward Son, which is a really good song. It has some heavy guitar riffs, yet a complicated song structure, which "suddenly makes it prog". Carry On is the only song I have nothing bad against, but the rest of them, is a story for another day.

3/5, not the best album, don't jump on me please!

Report this review (#227927)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I can say nothing too much original there: the best Kansas album at all. And the best US prog album of 70-th. Isn't it enough?

""Carry On Wayword Son" is absolutely golden hit from the day of release and still sounds in FM radio stations all around the world till now! And believe me, it's not easy to find other so commercially successfull song without pop elements on it!

Perfect balance between acoustic and symphonic sound, between guitar and keyboards, perfect vocal, bright melodies. Real prgog atmosphere during all the album!

Yes, Kansas is possible one of rear band in seventies which used many elements of european progresive in their music. At the same time there are visible AOR sound . But common balance are so perfect, that you can hear just beautiful and original MUSIC!

Recommended to anyone who is interested in prog rock, or just best possible rock around!

Report this review (#241132)
Posted Thursday, September 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Kansas - Leftoverture (1976)

Whereas the United States had a flourishing classic rock and psychedelic rock scene, progressive rock has never been a speciality of the country. Nowadays mainly progressive metal come from America, but back in the seventies there is this one crossover prog group called Kansas. This record was among my first ten vinyl records and I used to listen to it quite often. Nowadays I must admit I think this is overrated crossover with little progressive elements. But that ain't the real problem for me, I just can't stand the poppy way of singing and recording Kansas applied. Though some parts are progressive, they just sound poppy anyway due to the soft nature of the band. I would have liked to see some rough edges between all the way to perfect vocals.

Some tracks have some great moments like the chord-progressions on The Wall, the interesting refrain of Miracles out of Nowhere and the fresh Magnum Opes, but this does not compensate for the insipid sound of the record.

I will give this two stars. Very very overrated material played by a band that clearly has some quality in it, but is not cocksure en aggressive enough to sound progressive.

Report this review (#255046)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the greatest albums of the American prog scene

There. I said it. I simply love Leftoverture and I can't believe this masterpiece is ranked 74 on the top 100 prog albums of all time. So I decided to make some justice by my own.

The album opens with one of Kansas most well known songs.I don't care how much radio airplay Carry On Wayward Son has received.It's an absolute classic and Leftoverture wouldn't be the same without its awesome riffs and memorable hooks.

The Wall starts with some killing guitar melody lines. Astonishing and beautiful since the very first seconds. The piano in the middle part of the song is again marvelous as well as the vocal parts. Kansas is one of the few bands that make me go through different kind of emotions during single tracks without them necesarily being epic (point of know return would be another example of this). An absolute gem with great lyrics also.

What's On My Mind is just plain fun. Nothing much more to add. An average hard rock song that does not drag the album down but doesn't deliver that much either.

Miracles Out Of Nowhere is another highlight. Complex instrumentation, yet gentle and pretty much acoustically driven (similar to Heart's Crazy On You on some parts). I dare you not to sing with the chorus. It's just impossible. I also love the dual vocal harmonies on this one.

Opus Insert starts in the vein of What's On My Mind. But here we have the advantage of some really interesting keyboard work and a fantastic spacey finale.

Questions Of My Childhood is probably the most upbeat song on the album. A short enjoyable and joyful track that works perfectly as an appetizer for what is yet about to come.

And boy what a way to close a fantastic album. Cheyenne Anthem and Magnum Opus. Two of Kansas best songs ever and Leftoverture's proggiest. A feist for your ears. A good pair of headphones are recommended for these ones. If you have a doubt this guys can play just listen to this. Nothing to envy to giant prog monsters like ELP or Yes. Really stunning.

Overall a fantastic album, and a perfect place for starters in terms of accessibility (their first albums are also great but might be a little harder to digest). Long live Kansas!

Report this review (#257806)
Posted Friday, December 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars Melody, including prominent use of extremely catchy ones, complex structures, clever and thoughtful lyrics, layering, guitar (& other instruments) solos, simply everything you ever wanted from Prog music, you say it. Yes, quite often, I'm using these terms in my reviews, but all at once ? Being powerful (like Power Neo Prog) and also calm when necessary at will, that's hard thing to accomplish, but of course, Kansas manages to do it. As R.W.Brown once said, they're really good. And I regret that I haven't managed to know them sooner (year ago perhaps?). And each song has something to offer. Even on later tracks (after second), melody isn't as strong as it was, it does not matter so much, right ? We have better things to hear, for example interesting ideas of circus like (few seconds, but it's here) tunes on Opus Insert and tricky transitions in the same song, including synth interludes. I have version with bonus songs and have to say that they're even better than studio ones. Truly deserving its "live" tag.

5(-), leftmasterpiece. Some parts are not so interesting as others. It's just feeling, because they're good, just not as good as others when compared (other tracks).

Report this review (#264845)
Posted Sunday, February 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Critics often accuse prog rock of being too focused on playing and not focused enough on melodies, but whoever says that has obviously never heard "Leftoverture." Some of the melodies you hear on this record are the best you will hear on any record, regardless of genre.

"Leftoverture" is the symbol of a band at the height of their creativity. They hadn't done anything close to as good as this before, and have never came close to topping it since. That is not to disparage everything else, as Kansas has a lot of other good CDs, and I am a big fan of many of them, but "Leftoverture" is so magnificent, it is tough for most bands to equal or top it, much less themselves. "Carry On Wayward Son" is the timeless classic that everyone knows, but gems like "Cheyenne Anthem," "Magnum Opus" and "Miracles Out of Nowhere" are songs that, if you are anything like me, will have your jaw on the floor for days after you hear them for the first time. I still remember hearing this album for the first time around 15 years ago; I couldn't believe music could be this good.

This is not just a masterpiece of progressive rock music...this is a masterpiece of MUSIC.

Report this review (#266939)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It seems appropriate that the my first review on PA should be the first album that I ever purchased back in 1976 at the ripe age of twelve years old. It took me a month to earn enough money to buy it and I didn't know the name of the album or the band and with my cheap radio, I couldn't even understand the lyrics. But after humming the melody to Carry On Wayward Son, I was impressed when the gentleman at the record store reached into the bin and pulled out Leftoverture by Kansas. I quickly gave up my hard-earned $5.99 and rushed home, eager to listen to this song which had mesmerized me.

Now the story goes that Steve Walsh the keyboard player/vocalist with one of the finest voices in Rock was having some creative difficulty writing new material for this album. Therefore, it fell upon guitarist Kerry Livgren to take over as chief songwriter. Livgren later remarked that it is was as if God himself directed his pen and the lyrics and music flowed naturally like a fountain. In short time the album was completed and ready for submission when Livgren informed the band that he had one more song that they should hear. After he played Carry On Wayward Son, they wisely agreed that it should be included on Leftoverture and the rest is history.

Back to me riding my bicycle home from the record store. I enthusiastically and repeatedly queued up my favorite song and settled into a state of bliss, but what's this! There are seven more tunes here and much to my surprise, several were better than my beloved Wayward Son! I remember playing the song Miracles out of Nowhere for my friend who did not like Rock music and watching his jaw hit the floor as he listened in amazement at the opening organ followed up by the violin, rich acoustic guitar and finally, the perfect vocal exchange between Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh. Although Walsh is credited with much of the bands vocal prowess, Steinhardt also has a remarkable voice. To this day, my friend credits that moment for his musical awakening.

Even after many years, this album has aged well and it is still in my Top 10. Every song is good and many of them are great with some of the most memorable melodies. There is some resemblance to Premiata Forneria Marconi in this respect. In addition, the sound quality and particularly the stereo separation on side two of the original album is fantastic. This is one of those recordings that makes a good set of headphones a worthwhile purchase. I read that many European reviewers have some issue with the big American sound but I would have it no other way. My favorite song here is Cheyenne Anthem and the clarity and purity of each instrument can be heard, each precisely located on a virtual stage, just beautiful in my opinion. Some people ask me what is so special about this album, is it the lyrics or the quality playing? Truthfully, I believe that it is the instrumentation. With six band members it is easy to be selfish and overplay but there is none of that here. As Mozart once said, the number of notes is exactly correct.

My highest recommendation and I am happy to discover and contribute to this great online resource!

Report this review (#267542)
Posted Monday, February 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is the album that defines American symphonic prog in the seventies. Composed and recorded under intense record company pressure, and a severe case of writer's block for Steve Walsh, Kerry Livgren came through big time, with an album full of stunning music and lyrics.

Unlike all other Kansas albums up to this point, Leftoverture contains no straightforward rockers, or mundane soft ballads (the closest they come to the latter is The Wall, which begins softly, but works it's way up to a prog power ballad). This is symphonic prog bliss from start to finish.

And what a start. The album opens with the famous Carry On Wayward Son. Powerful and catchy, this is also the proggiest song to climb that high on the charts since Yes' Roundabout. The album is extremely well produced throughout, and peak with the aptly titled Magnum Opus, one of, if not the best song in Kansas' catalog.

I won't take points off for the bonus tracks, live recordings of Carry On and Cheyenne Anthem, but they are totally unnecessary, and superfluous to this amazing album.

Report this review (#276309)
Posted Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Interesting album, especially for chemists, as it delivers convincing proof that Rock can be melted down to liquid cheese.

Back in the days, I had Genesis for breakfast, Crimson for dinner, Yes and ELP as inbetween snacks and Pink Floyd during sex. That period came to an end when I started to seek out second and third tier Symphonic Prog bands. Some of the music I found there was so bland that I gave up on Prog altogether for many years. At the absolute bottom of progressive meekness I stumbled over the middle-of-the-road pop rock of Kansas' Leftoverture album, their knee-fall to AOR.

The album sure has got a couple of points working for it. Generally the music is pleasant. Carry On Wayward Son even has a cool riff, and Magnum Opus, while not as 'big' and 'opus-y' as it pretends, at least reminds us of the talent this band once had. But generally the poppy balladry and the cringe-worthy vocals take away any enjoyment I could possibly get from this album. Everything sounds so tame, commercial and old-fashioned. It's not just cheesy, it has even turned stale. This is rock that has been watered down completely; it has no edge, no energy, no dare, no passion, no attitude.

This is a professional product in its style, but for me this style of music is the exact reason why I seek refuge in Progressive Rock and other daring forms of musical creativity. Really, I'd rather listen to the Bee Gees; at least they are fun, and don't pretend to be anything more then mass product.

Yes, I counted the 5 stars here, so I will meekly succumb to your collective condemnation. If it offers any consolation, I think the debut is really strong.

Report this review (#280805)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Rock Progressivo Americano

Here it is, the classic Prog album by the popular American rock band, Kansas. While highly regarded, there's still a lot of debate whether if this is actually Prog Rock or not. I tend to consider this as a lighter Symphonic Prog in the vein of Triumvirat, but Prog nonetheless, influenced by Genesis, a bit of Gentle Giant and some AOR band. What's the result? Well, it's a clever and catchy Symphonic Prog with equal number of complex passages as straight-forward rock ones.

Not sure if this thought shows part of my craziness or not, but Leftoverture reminds me of Premiata Forneria Marconi's Per Un Amico; an album that strongly resembles the grandiose British Prog bands, yet there's not an actual rip-off and the musicians are actually able to compose and play equally(or better) as those from Britian. However, there is a flaw, but not in the music itself if not in my mind/ears: having listened to the U.K. bands way before these other Symphonic Prog groups, I can't help but think of 'x' British band when listening to the music of both, Per un Amico and Leftoverture. Also, there's this coincidence that both, Kansas and PFM, play Symphonic Prog including a violin player, not something common for the British Symphonic bands from the time, but that's not something that harms the music quite the opposite, it adds more diversity. Anyway, besides that similarity between PFM and Kansas, the music of both is pretty different, notable difference being that PFM sounds closer to something by an Eclectic Prog band with classical influences.

Mind you, I won't let that harm the rating of this review, though my personal discomfort when listening to Kansas can't be denied. To that I can add my dislike for Steve's vocals, he's too American (cheesy) for my taste, though his voice is undoubtedly a unique ingredient in Kansas' music. Fortunately, the quality of the compositions that is present in Leftoverture makes me able to enjoy the band quite a bit in spite of the vocals, unlike with Song for America which I found the songs pretty average though with certain inner potential.

Now, let me bring back again Triumvirat to the review since you probably were thinking what the hell does the German "ELP clones" have to do with Kansas. While Kansas definitely don't show Emerson, Lake & Palmer as an influence, Kansas does have Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh playing very similar kind of keyboards as those which Jürgen Fritz played. These keyboards sound 'thinner', less exciting, not a phenomenon like those marvelous Moog's or alike the Mellotron or like the classic B3 Hammond-Organ utilized by the British; surely the reason why the overall sound of these bands is not as powerful as that from Yes, Genesis or ELP. Anyhow, that's not necessarily a negative critic, just an aspect that I hear from Kansas that clearly differentiates them from the classic Prog bands.

So, which are the highlights from Leftoverture? All 8 songs are equally strong, in my opinion, different of course, some are straight-forward rock like 'Carry On My Wayward Son' and 'What's On Your Mind', but those still are inventive and as memorable as the more elaborated pieces such as 'Miracles Out of Nowhere', 'Cheyenne Anthem' and 'Magnum Opus'. The entire album features Kansas in their peak, instrumentally and composition-wise, the guitars rock hard, the violin adds that new dimension, the keyboards are fine despite their 'thin' sound and the rhythm section does a good job.

Leftoverture is undeniably a Symphonic Prog album recommended for all the fans of that genre, but I don't think it's a masterpiece of the genre since it's not something entirely unique neither mind- blowing nor a spine-chilling experience, but still worthwhile. However, I recommend you to buy the classic Symphonic Prog albums released prior to Leftoverture first, like Fragile, Trilogy, Foxtrot, et al. If you're going to get one 'Prog' Kansas album, get this, that's for sure.

Report this review (#289711)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really!

Sometimes I wonder if this album, actually this band, can really be considered prog. Sure, we find some keyboards, some nice passages very Symphonic Prog like, but it sounds a bit more classic rock to me. Despite this, "Leftoverture" is a great album, definitely an enjoyable experience all the way through.

The style, like I said, sounds more like classic rock to me, especially in the opener, the famous "Carry On Wayward Son". There are some interesting prog like passages, noticeable in the final track "Magnum Opus" and "Cheyenne Anthem", thanks to the keyboard virtuosity and the guitar passages. There are some great vocals, as well as some nice and pondering bass lines, great riffs, and nice arrangements. Another appreciating element of this album is the structure, very solid and with some wonderfully alternated moods.

If you ask me, the key songs would be the excellent and famous "Carry On Wayward Son", the interesting alternation between experimental arrangements and catchy melodies in "Miracles Out Of Nowhere", the great and fascinating moods of "Cheyenne Anthem", and, of course, the gem of the album, the epic 8 minutes of "Magnum Opus", with it's mind blowing alternations of different moods, all of them fantastic and enjoyable. Another interesting piece is "Questions Of My Childhood", a brief but effective song that always fascinates me.

To sum up, a great album, like I said, and definitely a great addiction to any music collection. But I'm still not so sure they're 100% prog.

Report this review (#290306)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars At the time I got to know Kansas it was mostly a classic rockband to me. I knew Dust in the Wind, Carry on Wayward Son and Point of know Return (last one just slightly) and that's what the band was to me for a long time. In 2004 I got to know Magnum Opus and had to change my mind of course. When I saw them on a Dutch pop/prog festival a year later and they played some more proggy stuff I got even more convinced. Kansas is probably 75% prog and 25% pop/rock or something like that. Leftoverture is the highlight of their career so let's take a look at the whole album.

Kansas' most famous album starts with one of their most famous songs ever Carry On Wayward Son and that's a wise choice because it gets you in the right groove for the album. The interesting thing about the song is that it's a blend of pop and prog. It's catchy but still more original than most popsongs and therefore slightly proggy. 3,5*

The Wall is a very nice song, the first with prominent violin. Sort of a ballad though not really soft. 3,5*.

What's on my Mind is the shortest track on the album, and also the most rocking probably. Less poppy than the famous opener even though it's a close call. Good song, 3,25*.

Miracles out of Nowhere is an accessible and quite vocally dominated track with slight folky undertones, especially in the first part. Halfway an instrumental part with keys and violin. This can easily be called the better part of the song. Nice but not too special. 3,5*.

Opus Insert is in the same league as previous, nice and accessible but not truly outstanding. 3,5*

Questions of my Childhood is too short to be a classic, in fact I'm surprised there's so much in it for a 3,5 minute song. Violin and vocals do the job here once again. 3,25*.

Cheyenne Anthem is suddenly of an entirely different league. What a great variegated track this is. Starting beautiful with great vocals and piano, some wonderful tones around 2:30 followed by a great instrumental part with all sorts of instruments amongst which of course Kansas' trademark, the violin. Ultimately the song ends more or less like it began, only this time as a true grand finale. Simply stunning. 4,5*.

And yet there's one better track, be it just slightly: the fantastic show stopper Magnum Opus. The song really is what the title already suggests and is probably the best song the band ever made. Terrific composition, finally proving exactly how progressive Kansas really can be. For those who see them as both pop/rock and prog: this one is certainly on the right end of the spectrum (as far as I'm concerned). 4,75*.

So the sting is in the tail with this album. After the first six tracks you might think we're dealing with a sophisticated rock album but last two tracks make it a different ball game. This is prog for sure even though not the best example you will ever hear. On average some 3,6 after doing the maths but I will round up because I feel 3 stars is selling this one short. No poor tracks and a few great ones to finish with is good enough for the description (near) excellent addition to a prog collection. Looking at the rating scores so far not everyone is equally convinced which makes the album somewhat controversial. But if you want to know what American prog sounds like I surely could recommend this classic !

Report this review (#290414)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars I vividly recall that Leftoverture was my first encounter with Kansas and it's undoubtedly the best possible introduction one can get!

Every single track on this recording has some great quality, even if Carry On Wayward Son seems to be the one that gets most recognition. This well known album-opener is definitely worthy of distinction for being both a great commercial tune while still maintaining a great artistic quality to it. Still, it's the The Wall that has always been my definite favorite composition out of the bunch. This track could have easily worked even if it was expanded to double of its current size. This was not really possible due to the length limitations of the vinyl record, but may I be the first to suggest trimming down Magnum Opus to half its length in order to give more space to this wonderful composition? A daring statement, to say the least, but I never really cared for that track's overlong build-up.

There are really no weak tracks here, which is a great surprise considering the way Kansas' previous albums turned out. Even the debut album had an unnecessary piece like Bringing It Back! This is really not a problem on Leftoverture as we are treated not only to the band's most accomplished material but also to their most progressive such as well. Even upbeat tunes like Opus Insert, that would have been played straight on other records, but are played with an excellent spin on the instrumental arrangements. In this particular case, Phil Ehart definitely steals the show with his drum work.

There is really no reason for me to push this review any further since this album is already this band's most recognized release and I'm sure that you'll find all the additional information in other reviews. For me this is easily one of the best examples of great music by Kansas and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection!

***** star songs: Carry On Wayward Son (5:13) The Wall (4:47) Opus Insert (4:26)

**** star songs: What's On My Mind (3:27) Miracles Out Of Nowhere (6:29) Questions Of My Childhood (3:38) Cheyenne Anthem (6:50) Magnum Opus (8:27)

Report this review (#300867)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars 1976. The time of grandiose, symphonic prog, when what the media described as overblown was king. Yes had released Going For The One, Genesis Wind & Wuthering, and bands such as Supertramp were craftily mixing the symphonic with commercial sensibilities.

So, what does an American band do to keep up? Why, release quite the most fantastic mix of what would come to be called AOR pomp rock with clear symphonic prog tendencies.

The most famous song they did is, of course, Carry On My Wayward Son, and it opens proceedings here. It is a glorious piece of pomp rock, and is deservedly on virtually every American classic rock compilation you can buy each and every Christmas.

What follows is American rock at its finest. There is an interesting, and very good, mixture of what we would call traditional symphonic prog, with magnificent moog and organ, with classic hard rock, a la Deep Purple in their prime at times, with a softer, accessible, American rock feel. The violins also bring into play a folk aspect to this album which is very welcome.

The music and lyrics are intelligent throughout, and, as far as the latter are concerned, none more so than on Cheyenne Anthem, the subject of which is rather obvious from the title. Thoughtful, sympathetic, and brought to bear by some marvellous musicianship, quiet throughout before building up to a grand finale. The violin solo is simply excellent, as are the complex keyboards which interplay with it. I think this is a haunting piece of music, and the best on the album.

This is a fine album of American progressive rock, and is highly recommended.

Four stars, and strong at that.

Report this review (#306727)
Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Despite the background and intentions of these talented musicians, I never felt much attraction to their music. It seems too sterile and rock-oriented to me. I never even thought to include this band in the same group with the "art rockers" that later became known as "progressive rock" artists. For me, KANSAS was a group of pop rockers akin to STYX, BOSTON, JOURNEY, and QUEEN (none of whom I would call progressive rock groups). While there may be progressive elements to some of the songs or even an album or two of these artists, they are not in my opinion true progressive rock artists. "Second tier" prog rock I call them. Or "prog wannabes." The only song I can and could ever tolerate from Leftoverture is the hit, "Carry On My Wayward Son." Nothing else that Kansas ever did has connected with me--even now, years later, blessed as I am now with a greater appreciation for composition and musicianship.
Report this review (#338025)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars And is not that Americans do know a good prog rock? "Leftoverture" was the album that introduced me to Kansas.Yes, the progressive rock here is a little different from Europe, but this album is good, that I have no doubt !

All eight tracks are excellent, there are no weak moments there.I 've two tracks, opener "Carry on (Wayward son) and closure," Magnum Opus "are masterpieces of the album.The first is exceptional! When I I heard it, I had a strange feeling that he had heard that guitar riff (which comes soon after the opening vocals)in somewhere.And I remembered:it was in "Kindred Spirits " from Liquid Tension Experiment! (can just be printing, but it is my opinion). this song is pretty crazy. "Mgnun Opus" closes the album grandiously.A reviewer commented that this song has launched some of the basics of progressive metal, and I have to agree! Some effects guitar and keyboards to reinforce my opinion.The others are no less excellent, and the result is an perfect album.5 stars with praise!

Report this review (#356399)
Posted Saturday, December 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Not my cup of tea.

Sorry, I know this album is so much respected, but in my opinion the music here is very weak. As a rock album maybe I would give it three stars, but we write about prog here.

Almost all the songs are built the same way: take a classic rock song based on a guitar riff (keep in mind that the band's sound is very "american", with references to West Coast and Country music) and enrich it with a bit of pompous and bombastic symphonic arrangement. The result is a strange contrast of styles: very bad taste in my opinion. It 's like taking "Hotel California" by Eagles, and insert in the middle ELP's "The Old Castle". Can someone tell me why? All right, progressive rock means contamination of styles, but please....doing so with elegance!!!

The best songs? Carry On Wayward Son is without doubt the best on the record, a timeless classic of pure '70s rock. Question Of My Childhood is built on a catchy melody (the brief introduction of synthesizer refers to Francis Monkman and Curved Air). Not too bad Miracles Out Of Nowhere with the "proggy" section in the meddle and the "country-style" violin theme (keep in mind that we are light years away from King Crimson of Cross, Wetton, Bruford and Fripp). The rest easily forgotten. I must even say that I don't like the too emphatic way of singing.

Rating: 4/10.

Best song: Carry On Wayward Son

Report this review (#404616)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Leftoverture is often considered to be Kansas' masterpiece, and it is definitely their most progressive without a doubt. First of all, everyone probably is familiar with the iconic "Carry On My Wayward Son". It's a very strong radio rock song with above par writing for the part, featuring time and mood changes. Beyond that, there following few songs follow roughly the same format and it all is quite accessible, still maintaining a strong progressive American feel throughout. "Magnum Opus" is usually the favorite track by most progressive rock fans, and is the most progressive on the album. It's very rock heavy with very dark atmospheric keys engulfing the inception of the track that leads into a short bass dominated section, which in turn leads into a guitar solo that turns soothing guitar lines into the backing for Steve Walsh's fine voice. Following that are various impressively executed instrumental passages, all with different feels.

Like Kansas' other albums, anyone who like radio oriented country rock with a progressive tinge would enjoy this, but this album is also probably the most suitable to Yes and Genesis fans available in the Kansas catalog.

Report this review (#431180)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Leftoverture is simply an excellent recording from Kansas. It's one of those albums that gets everything right and THEN SOME.

Leftoverture reads like a colourful marriage between prog, country, hard-rock and pop. They were always trying to marry these elements in their first few albums, but the difference is the delivery. On Leftoverture all these elements integrate and blend impeccably.

On top of that, the songwriting is simply first-classed. Songs such as "Opus Insert" and "Questions of my Chjildhood" are full of colourful proggy keyboard, violins, and typical progressive touches, yet these songs are as every bit as irresistible as the best pop music, for example "The Four Tops". Yes, that's right, these songs are as every bit as irresistible and exuberant as Motown or Brit-pop, AT THEIR BEST. I mean, what an achievement for progressive rock.

That Kansas created some hybrid was daring, but marrying the many conflicting elements so well and packaging is so appealingly is one of the great feats in music. And Steve Walsh performed soul and passion to bring the songs to life. Match that with Livgrens soul-searching lyrics, that are similar to Cat Stevens' lyrics, and you have one very worthy listen.

Other than the aforementioned songs, "Miracles out of nowhere" is also infectious as anything; "Carry on my wayward son" is a great rocker, "The Wall" is a very heartfelt song and the closing "Magnum Opus" is an all-out Prog track, that's actually a lot of fun. The "Cheyenne Anthem" is a slower song that isn't quite as good as the rest, but still fairly good, and "What's on my mind" is fun rocker, not much more. Given this, the album is worth about 4.5 stars.

This is kind of the best Kansas album, because prior albums didn't integrate their elements well, while later albums lost their progressive identity slowly. Also, it's hard to find an album as rewarding as this everyday, so I'd highly recommend it.

Report this review (#468754)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Leftoverture' is probably Kansas most well known record. The opening track ' Carry On Wayward Son' was and still is a great rock hit which made this band famous and gave this band their fame that they so deserved. Written by Kerry Livgren, this song has it's all: Catchy chorus, brilliant keyboards soloing, one of the most famous guitar riffs ever and a short yet progressive song structure. 'The Wall' is a great progressive tune with a lot of inspiration from bands such as 'Camel' and 'Genesis' ' What's On Your Mind' is another great rocker in the vein of 'Carry On Wayward Son' and ' Miracles Out Of Nowhere' is probably the best song in this album, tons of emotions and amazing vocals and keyboards. All in all, this is another of Kansas classics, get this and you won't regret.
Report this review (#507544)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my humble opinion, this is another great injustice (as in the case of "Point of Know Return") against the North-American band KANSAS. I think, sincerely which "Leftoverture" is one of the most important albuns from the middle 70's prog mainstream in USA. Maybe this fact be due to the success reached by the first track " Carry on wayward son", which (almost) becomes a pop song, and this "phenomenon", in my point of view ( starting from conversations with lots of prog fans) , cause a certain rejection by parts from the prog community, due to a prejudice which says "Progressive music cannot be popular", I entirely disagree. Besides of this, the albun shows many moments of virtuosity, as for instance in the track 4 "Miracles out of nowhere" with a 12 string guitars making the lyrics harmony and starting from 2 min and 22 sec a dialogue between acoustic guitar, bass, organ and acoustic piano which to will disembogue at 4 min and 52 sec in a overpowering theme with guitars and violin divide the solo,very catching melodies, like the children choir in the track 7 "Cheyenne Anthem" and whole track 2 "The Wall", and the best moment from Leftoverture... The masterpiece "Suite" in the track 8 "Magun Opus" ( which are to KANSAS just as "La Villa Strangiatto" are to RUSH). My rate could not be other than 5 stars !!!
Report this review (#566792)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my humble opinion this is one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever recorded. With this album Kansas finally hit their peak of self-actualization: their albums before were very good but often unbalanced or lacking cohesion, and their albums after were very good but definitely took on a more commercial sound. With Leftoverture, however, they find their sound at its most perfected. Amazing melodies and catchy hooks intersect with progressive rock to create songs that are just as easy to appreciate for their instrumental mastery as they are to sing along to.

"Carry On Wayward Son" should need no introduction. True, this song is tremendously overplayed, and listening to the band play it live these days is kind of depressing since it's fairly obvious they're completely sick of it after having to play it at every show for 30 years straight. That said, it's still a fantastic song. The hooks are fantastic, the solos are astounding, and the vocals are breathtaking. I'm not going to talk too much about this song because I'm assuming most everyone has heard it at least once, but if you haven't, rest assured that it lives up to the hype it gets. It's great.

"The Wall" follows up the famous opener in a more introspective vein. Though it's perhaps a less anthemic song than "Carry On," it's no less energetic or powerful, with spectacular guitar work and a flawless Steve Walsh vocal performance on an album full of flawless Steve Walsh performances. With lyrics about overcoming personal demons and wailing, emotional guitar parts to match, "The Wall" is a powerful song that's also incredibly strong melodically. Steve Walsh's soaring vocals at the end of the song never fail to send shivers down my spine.

"What's On My Mind" is another very interesting song, beginning again with some excellent guitar work. When the vocals come in, however, the song takes on more of an AOR sound before switching into the hard rock chorus. It's a bit of a bizarre combination that works surprisingly well; a testament to Kerry Livgren's compositional prowess. I would have to say that it's probably the weakest song on the album; however, when a song this good is the weakest on the album you know you've got something special.

"Miracles Out of Nowhere" is, in my opinion, one of if not the best songs Kansas ever wrote. The music blends together keyboards, guitar, and violin more seamlessly than perhaps any other Kansas song, and every melody, every word, every note work perfectly together to create a song that's undeniably prog-rock but can nonetheless get stuck in your head if you're not careful. Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh trade off vocals to great effect and the final product is truly something magical (or perhaps miraculous?)

"Opus Insert" is a song that doesn't get talked about too much, and for the life of me I can't figure out why not. The track begins with some mysterious sounding synth sounds before vocals enter, backed by a bombastic instrumental part. The chorus is equally great, and when Steve Walsh belts it out the final time you realize that you're listening to one heck of a vocalist. "Opus Insert" may not be the rock anthem that "Carry On Wayward Son" is, but it's still a great song and one that I think would sound great live; pity it seemed to be so rarely played.

"Questions of My Childhood" is one of the few songs on the album to have Steve Walsh co- listed as a writer, but despite his reputation on some of the later Kansas albums of writing more "commercial" songs, this one fits in perfectly on the album. Heavily featuring keyboards, "Questions of My Childhood" is probably the most cheerful song on the album, or at least the most optimistic. I also think it's lyrically one of the strongest on the album, and of course Walsh delivers a stellar vocal performance.

"Cheyenne Anthem" is another criminally under-talked-about Kansas song, with rather tragic lyrics told from the perspective of the Native Americans and expansive, orchestral music to match. Obviously this is another very emotional song, and again Steinhardt and Walsh switch off on lead vocals to great effect. The pacing of the song is brilliant as well, starting off subdued, building intensity, dropping back down and finally exploding in a burst of orchestral grandeur as the song ends.

"Magnum Opus" finishes off the album. If I'm not mistaken this is the only song that is credited to all five members of Kansas, with the story being that they each wrote a section and then put it all together. If that's actually the case then I'm quite impressed, as the song flows very well. The track is mostly instrumental (there's one brief section with vocals), and features all of the band members demonstrating their incredible command of their instruments, as well as the tightness of the band as a whole. A great finish to a great album.

If you've never heard Kansas before then Leftoverture is absolutely the place to start. This is one of those albums where every song is fantastic; there is zero filler and no poor songs. Thinking about it, I've probably listened to this album more times than almost any other, and I can still listen through the whole thing without skipping any songs or getting bored.

In my eyes at least, this is a masterpiece.


Report this review (#622241)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Kansas's "Leftoverture" is literally a magnum opus of songs linked to a thematic concept.

'Point of Know Return' and 'Leftoverture' are both real progressive conceptual works and as good as Kansas gets. On "Leftoverture" the band consist of Kerry Livgren on guitar, keyboards, Robby Steinhardt on lead vocals, violin, viola, Steve Walsh on lead vocals, keyboards, vibes, Dave Hope on bass, Phil Ehart on drums, and Rich Williams on acoustic and electric guitars. This lineup is one of the most celebrated in Kansas' long tenure. The music on the album is virtuoso and features some of the best known Kansas compositions with incredibly inventive structures and adventurous time sigs, wrapped up in a concept.

The album cover is striking and one that I treasure in my vinyl collection. The image of an old sage with a scroll pondering over his work is perhaps as striking as Gryphons "Red Queen to Bishop Three" cover. The medieval concept of a Nostradamus like figure or Leaonardo Da Vinci is a perfect conceptual image for Kansas to indulge in.

'Carry on Wayward Son' begins proceeding with a bonafide classic and featured on many rock compilations as well as every Kansas compilation and live show. It is the quintessential Kansas with killer riffs and fantastic melodies building to an unforgettable chorus. The music is wonderful, especially the half time feel with heavy guitars. The band harmonise well and and this is the best Kansas song without a doubt, making them milions deservedly.

'The Wall' has a nice steady beat but sounds very AOR to me and I am not a fan. Kansas will return to a stronger AOR sound in years to follow. 'What's on my mind' has a good guitar intro and then soft rock verses building to heavier guitar on chorus. Not prog but a nice melody.

'Miracles out of nowhere' has a chiming vibraphone intro and very nice Hammond layered with an odd time sig and then acoustic and gentle vocals. Love the feel of this and much more proggy than last 2 songs. The half time section is medieval and has an odd 7/8 meter with very progressive keyboard instrumentation. The sig changes again to an unusual meter, as violins begin and a wall of sound opens up. A new time shift as the tempo quickens and a scorching lead break is heard makes this one of the definitive higlights. An underrated classic for Kansas.

Side two of the vinyl is definitely the proggiest Kansas with a huge suite of songs to create an opus and indeed the first part is titled 'Opus insert'. The lyrics are performed strongly by Steinhardt; "There's a reason for all that rhymes, it's the fact and the way of the times, It's moving emotion, it's high and it's low, no matter where you go, There is something for all who look, there's a story in every book, All of the pages, between all the lines, so much that you can find, But there's too many empty lives my friend". The music changes meter throughout and has some majestic keys and a very bombastic style. It is followed by 'Questions of my childhood'.

This is a shorter song with similar time shifts and inspring lyrics; "When the sun is in the mid sky, he wears a golden crown, And he soaks the world with sunshine as he makes another round, It's been a faster year than yesterday, all the things that I had planned, And when I think I might be gaining, I'm in the sunshine once again." The sound is uplifting with washes of melodic keys, and a strong beat that gets faster during the keyboard solo that fades.

'Cheyenne anthem' is a ballad about the sadness of the cruel treatment against the Cheyenne Indians, and features beautiful instrumentation, keys, violins, medieval guitar, and loud percussion. It builds in speed in the middle as a frenetic keyboard solo comes in and vibraphone. The Gentle Giant sigs are odd and the thumping rhythm in the medial section is almost like a circus polka theme, but it is a cynical melody in contrast to the content. It has powerful lyrics about the death of the Cheyenne people robbed of their land and finishes with; "Soon these days shall pass away, For our freedom we must pay, All our words and deeds are carried on the wind, In the ground our bodies lay, here we lay". The poignant content is matched by sombre melodies and a melancholy children's choir. It finishes with one last majestic soundscape.

'Magnum opus' is the longest track at 8 ˝ minutes. It begins with pounding drums of war, and then Livgren's howling keyboards and a steady rhythm. The track takes off into a lengthy instrumental section with inventive sigs, musicians taking turns to shine on guitar, keyboards and all brought together by the rhythm machine of bass and drums sounding like Focus or ELP. There is an ominous melody and it all sounds so massive with a wall of sound that keeps up a compelling melody with vibes, marimba and violins. It slows into the main theme towards the end, swathes of keys, soaring guitars and a finale that ends suddenly on a high note. Incredible masterpiece of prog and typifies Kansas at their very best.

In conclusion this is definitely one of the best Kansas albums and features their most beloved tracks. The exceptional single 'Carry on Wayward Son', the quasi-mystical 'Miracles out of nowhere' and all of side two make this an essential album and one of the best in 1976.

Report this review (#622848)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When this group appeared on the scene in 1974 they were a conundrum. Even today the words Kansas and progressive rock go together about as well as politicians and honesty. Yet the fact remains that the finest prog band the United States has ever produced didn't hail from the east, west or third coast but sprouted up in the very heart of the country where attention from the established record companies was hardest to attract. Say what you will about hammy Don Kirshner but it was he who boldly took a chance on promoting a homegrown group that played challenging, complex material when most of the industry moguls were busy trying to discover the next Three Dog Night or Doobie Brothers. Kirshner stuck with them while they built their audience via constant touring and three decent LPs over a two year period when I'm sure all his peers were chuckling at his folly. But in October of '76 Kansas released 'Leftoverture' and the snickering stopped immediately. This album was a stunner from top to bottom. Turned out that stateside prog rock could crossover into the mainstream without compromising an iota of its integrity when presented with aplomb, superb fidelity and undeniable class. Streaking past the records of pandering pop stars to barge into the top five on the album charts, the disc demolished many long-held notions about public taste. The average Joe enjoyed this stuff just as much as the proggers did. The snobby critics and nearsighted naysayers were humbled at last because the local underdogs had pulled the upset, triumphed and revealed them to be badly mistaken bozos.

Opening with the striking 'Carry On Wayward Son' was a stroke of genius. The strong, layered three-part harmonies catapulting the song's magnetic hook line hit like a tsunami wave and the song then incessantly floods your senses with great performances. I'll go so far as to pronounce it one of the best, most concise American-made specimens of prog rock ever. It has every ingredient for being recognized as such and is so infectious that it had no difficulty whatsoever in appealing to a broad strata of the populace who pushed the single up to #11. Everything about the track is top notch but you gotta admit that keyboardist Steve Walsh's vocal is still breathtaking in its powerful delivery. To this day very few singers can reach and sustain that final note like he does. 'The Wall' follows with an elegant instrumental intro preceding a beautiful, dramatic symphonic prog tune that includes wonderfully intricate intervals that substantially heighten the overall effect of the number. Guitarist and principal writer Kerry Livgren's lyrics are surprisingly profound for that era. 'And though it's always been with me/I must tear down the wall and let it be/All I am, and all that I was ever meant to be, in harmony/Shining true and smiling back at all who wait to cross/There is no loss,' Walsh sings with touching conviction. It's an emotionally-charged song that gets me every time I hear it. 'What's On Your Mind' is next and it shows that these boys could rock hard without reverting to beat-you-over-the-head tactics. Their instinctive understanding and respect for dynamic tension keeps the tune from becoming pedestrian. Kudos are also in order for the tight, inventive ending.

On 'Miracles Out of Nowhere' their collective imagination and willingness to take an adventurous, progressive approach in their craftsmanship works to the song's advantage in that they allow it to evolve into something both accessible and engaging. It also demonstrates that they were a dedicated group of musicians who had a clear objective in mind about what kind of music they wanted to make. Many of us truth seekers could readily relate to the thought-provoking words of 'Here I am just waiting for a sign/Asking questions, learning all the time/It's always here, it's always there/It's just love, and miracles out of nowhere.' Once again the finale is spectacular, proving that they had a special knack for knowing how to seal the deal. The band's often overlooked vocal acumen really shines through on 'Opus Insert' and there's a delightful Zappa influence in the first instrumental break that always brings a smile to my face. 'Questions of My Childhood' follows and I admire the ensemble's confident, aggressive mien that manifests itself over and over in this number. Again, it's obvious that they knew exactly what they were about when they made this album. It's a totally unified effort in that no one dominates musically but I must mention that when violinist Robby Steinhardt steps up for his solo the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention.

'Cheyenne Autumn' begins as an acoustic guitar-based ballad and there's nothing wrong with that at all when it's done with this kind of tact. Not content to remain predictable, though, they move the focal point to the piano and then the track grows to involve the whole band, taking the tune to places you'd never expect it to go. They eventually revive the track's original vibe but they finish the piece with a gallant flourish. The group-composed 'Magnum Opus' is the cherry on the sundae. Its semi-Egyptian aura is deliciously prog and the vibraphone adds a jazzy tint to the proceedings. The song's energy-filled shifts in mood are exhilarating and unexpected, just the way quality prog rock should be. I'll go out on a limb here and aver that some of the tune's passages would give King Crimson a run for their money. A lot of credit for the album's consistency is due to the outstanding rhythm section of Phil Ehart on drums and Dave Hope on bass as evidenced on this cut. The lyrics sum up their awareness of knowing they weren't reinventing the wheel or curing cancer with their art. 'This foolish game, oh it's still the same/The notes go dancin' off in the air/And don't you believe it's true/the music is all for you/It's really all we've got to share/'Cause rockin' and rollin'/it's only howlin' at the moon/It's only howlin' at the moon,' Steve sings. This is a fantastic epic and a fine way to end an album.

I'm alarmed at how many critics and reviewers still discount the prog content in Kansas' music in general and in 'Leftoverture' in particular. They continue to compare them to Yes, ELP and Genesis but fail to take into serious consideration that the group's constituents didn't grow up in an environment comparable to the British culture that so emphasized and revered the giants of classical music. We Yanks grew up on a thinner diet of pop and rock & roll and the overwhelming majority of our music reflects that upbringing. Kansas didn't deny their heritage but, rather, found a way to incorporate it into a symphonic prog motif and avoided turning it into the incomprehensible psychedelic mess that most did. It took patience, skill and a lot of trial-by-error but they, along with their Canadian counterparts in Rush, made the rest of the planet take note that the old world didn't have exclusivity when it came to making progressive music. We westerners could kick a little tail in that category, too. When I listened to this disc recently it was the first time in a long while and I was struck by what a band can do when they work together in an unobstructed spirit of cooperation. One rarely encounters this kind of consolidated creativity any more in this age of individuality. 'Leftoverture' may not be a masterpiece in everyone's ears but it comes damn close in mine. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#639555)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Along with SONG FOR AMERICA and POINT OF KNOW RETURN, I consider this one of the magic 3 Kansas releases. WIth this trio, Kansas hit the top of their form and would never quite reach it again. They have had a few other very good albums such as KANSAS and MASQUE, but these 3 seem to be the ones people remember. I won't go through a track by track description as this album is familiar to most AMerican prog fans, but my top picks are "The Wall", "QUestions of my Childhood", "Cheyenne Anthem", and "Magnum Opus". ANd what a cool cover this album has!!
Report this review (#752802)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars With their third album, Leftoverture, Kansas has firmly planted their prog roots, but also sees a slightly more commercial approach. I would also venture to say this is their most consistent album, with really no poor tracks included.

The opening song is the classic rock standard 'Carry On My Wayward Son.' Kansas garnered much radio time with this song, as it is rather simple in terms of structure and rhythm compared to their other songs. Surely constant radio play has warped my opinion, but I still think it's a fantastic song.

'The Wall' is a vocal heavy song with some great guitar work in the middle, and a beautiful melody at the end (which do doubt inspired the title track from Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence).

'What's On My Mind' is a pretty simple song with a pretty structure, and really isn't terribly interesting besides some decent guitar work.

'Miracles Out of Nowhere' is mostly a ballad with an epic instrumental break in the middle which has parts in 7/4 time.

'Opus Insert' is an up-tempo song with some heavy, driving bass. The vocals are very strong on this song as well; but it's the lighthearted proggy middle section that always gets me.

'Questions of My Childhood' Opens with an epic flurry of keyboards. Unfortunately the rest of song doesn't reach the same level of symphonic prowess.

'Cheyenne Anthem' opens with acoustic guitar in a slower, methodical manner, but slowly adds piano, and by the middle section is a full on prog extravaganza filled with keyboard madness.

'Magnum Opus' is a full on prog adventure similar to something off their previous album. The structure is really diverse on this song, with no section really sounding like another. This shows the masterful compostitional skills of whole band, but it's the arrangement that makes it into the controlled chaos this song is.

Overall, I would say Leftoverture is a more consistent release than Song For America, and more prog than Point of Know Return, making this their strongest album for me, and a very strong addition to a symphonic prog collection.


Report this review (#828310)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars |C+| Like a delicious smoothie that didn't finish mixing its ingredients.

Kansas is a very good example of the sort of rock bands that my parents loved to play in the car when I was a little boy; heavier 70s rock, done with creativity. Obviously though, Kansas is much less generic than that description; here we have symphonic prog meets AOR meets some southern-rock influences (Miracles Out of Nowhere makes this clear enough), with variations of the three in varying degrees, particularly in this album. In fact, as much as I like most of the music to be found here, it's the inconsistency of the composition that bothers me with this particular album, as well as some blatantly dated-sounding stuff, mostly as a result of the AOR style, which despite my personal fondness for it, really hasn't aged well in the slightest, and perhaps for good reason. What's more, it's often the case that each section within a piece is too characteristic of a specific rock style mentioned above, with little real cohesiveness the the whole song. Now, it's not as if I'm over- thinking/over-analyzing the music, I'm just describing what bothers me about the material as I listen to it and why.

Track Commentary: Carry On My Wayward Son obviously remains one of the classic hard- rock hits of all time, with some nice touches of proggy creativity, with some of the most memorable riffs, melodies, and solos of rock history. One of the most creative tracks from an American band to receive radio play in their own country, however little that might actually be saying (speaking as an American myself). The Wall is one of my favorite tracks in all of symphonic prog, its absolutely rich in textural and harmonic diversity in the composition, which is heavily classically influenced. This was probably the first full-blown prog track with which I ever became fully familiar. As a spiritual person I have a lot of personal connection with the lyrics in the piece, "all I am and all that I was ever meant to be in harmony," just absolutely beautiful. The next track, What's On My Mind, is sort of the opposite end of the musical spectrum, very dated AOR sound like Boston and Foreigner, super lame track in my opinion, though the solo section is pretty cool sounding. Unfortunately, the vocal melody line for the whole song falls flat on its face, and the ending is pretty cheesy I think. Miracles Out Of Nowhere is sort of a strange combination of (I think) southern-rock music with symphonic prog. Not a bad song, some really creative composition and beautiful work on the violin. I love the break into the fugue between the instruments, and the interesting experimentation with harmony, and especially the recitative that the singer does with the organ, though the piece itself is a little cut-and-paste sounding, not a super cohesive track, however fun it might be. Side two of the album, beginning with Opus Insert, starts off quite Genesis sounding synthesizer material, moving into the quasi-southern rock sound. I especially the love heavy synth theme, what a great melody. The piece moves into a march- feel given by the snare and bass, with the keyboard playing solo material, which is pretty cool. Questions Of My Childhood is a very upbeat track, very symphonic prog and well-done, albeit generally a bit cheesy, and the vocals and vocal harmonies bother me a bit. Cheyenne Anthem is a pretty mixed bag, with some garbage and some brilliance. Completely uninspiring vocal melodies, though the use of the childrens choir is really cool. The instrumental parts are quite good, with the section with the use of the vibraphone under the violin solo. and some characteristically Kansas prog craziness, with the instruments taking turns playing off each other, which is cool. Magnus Opus starts off like a modern classical symphony might, with timpani playing under a melody of parallel fourths from the synths (who ever saw that coming?). Plenty of interesting material on this track, some of it pretty good, a lot of it serving as a great example of rock instrumentation composed in the way on might compose a symphony, which isn't true for a lot of "symphonic prog", though I can't say there's too much depth to be found among all of the complexity of the work. I'm sure that for its time it certainly was an innovative and adventurous endeavor.

When all is said and done, as much as I like listening to a lot of this album, I generally find it to be among most overrated of all in prog rock, mostly due to the totally inconsistent nature of their work here, with the exception of the first two tracks. Perhaps I'm being a bit elitist here, but to me the tracks themselves seem to have very little real natural flow, the transitions between musical sections within each one being either unconvincing or awkward, and the sections themselves sounding characteristic of one type of influence. What's On My Mind is probably the prime example of this. Even the material that is in good order, like Magnus Opus, never even comes close to the depth that you have with the cream-of-the-crop prog out there, which is my theory for why this album never made it to the ranking positions of the classic gems of prog.

Just my two cents on the album, and this review may not even be worth that much. Nonetheless, it's a very good album worth the price (hopefully) to purchase and has some spectacular moments, with some boldly creative composition, which is always praiseworthy in my book.

Report this review (#903907)
Posted Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are so many reviews about this album already that I don't want to go into detail about it. In fact, if you consider yourself a progger, then you are already familiar with the album and have already made up your mind about whether you like it or not. My opinion is that it is their masterpiece, it is Kansas in their finest hour and "Magnum Opus" is exactly Kansas' magnum opus. Nothing short of awesomeness here, everything is perfect. Kansas became a tight knit mini orchestra of sorts with this album. The problem is this; even though their next album "Point of Know Return" was a great album, it was not a progression from this album, it was a small tentative step backwards probably because of pressure to maintain radio air play and commercialism. In fact, Kansas stopped progressing and became more and more radio friendly after that, without progression their best music written after that only became stale and their worst music just became run of the mill. It's a sad story that exists all throughout prog. Kansas was an American progressive band that America could be proud of, but they became victims of corporate greed. However, while it's true that progressive rock was nurtured and grown best in Europe and other countries, progressive rock (and music in general for that matter) should know no boundaries. I think it would do us all a big service if all of us would forget about boundaries and appreciate music for being universal. Open your ears and your minds and listen to music from everywhere and I will promise you that you will find gems all over the world. There is music out there that is still being made that is just as good and sometimes even better than what is produced in your own country or your own culture. Get out there and discover it.
Report this review (#1002037)
Posted Saturday, July 20, 2013 | Review Permalink

First I'll say that I'm sure I won't due this classic justice. I grew up in the seventies and I can't help but feel as though I was blessed with great music to grow up to, both from the previous half decade and the decade of the seventies! But for prog purposes, the seventies were awesome and this album is in my personal top 10 progger's from the seventies list!

It opens with the classic- 'Carry On Wayward Son'! Now that alone is very near the price of admission but the great music doesn't stop there! The next track is 'The Wall' a beautiful song with many nice changes in tempo and instrumentation, something that is the true definition of progessive music in my book. This song, almost as much as any on this great album gives the impression to me of the overall message being relayed on it. Literal or subliminal, the message within the songs seems to be to me a quest or personal journey of spiritual and emotional discovery, the teller of musical stories and his (I say 'his' since it is a male singer) description of them. Although as I listen to this as I try to type with my two index finger style, I have to say that one of my favorites on the album is also like 'The Wall' in that is another very album conceptual track and that would be 'Miracles Out Of No Where'. I love the baroque break in this song, very intricate with an almost fugue feel to it.

The next track, 'Opus Insert' is a great rocker with some slower introspective moments to it and as I had said earlier, this is what prog rock means to me. I love the break in this song too! Great percussion! I love good percussion performed well and from piano and other keyboards to xylophones and other misc. percussion they do a fine job here on 'L'! 'Questions Of My Childhood' keeps the vibe going strong with some very fine grooves and their ubiquitous violin which is well known as one of their calling cards.

'Cheyenne Anthem' has always held a special place with me and in my spyche. So much so that back in the day I had a yellow t-shirt with the KANSAS lettering across the top, I might have gotten it at their concert and I wrote the last lines of this song across it. I'm a bit of a hoarder, but I can't seem to find that shirt. I can't help but think that in a moment of weakness, I might have let it slip away. Oh well.

This treasure ends with the longest and probably the most proggie track on it, 'Magnum Opus'. It is another classic, although it does end the album in a slightly different vein than put forward by the previous tracks. It is also very good, but just a little different. I don't think it distracts much, but it is a track that I don't always listen to as I drive and listen to music. Maybe I would if I had a longer commute. But I can't help but feel that having lived 1 mile for my commute to work for 23 years and now 2.5 for the last 11 that that has been a blessing in itself. Anyway, it is a good, but slightly different song than the rest and perhaps that is one of the reasons for it's positioning on the album. I don't feel that it has any long- lasting detrimentalness to this classic. One of my personal fav. prog albums from the classic era!

This is IMHO a classic prog album that anyone with a love for classic prog era prog would probably appreciate! Well that's about it. Take care and enjoy God's gift of music!

Report this review (#1199448)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is simply American prog at its best - certainly symphonic prog, what the majority of people would instantly think of when they hear the word "prog". This is a 5 star album for me. The songs are very well-written and memorable. The musicianship is great. Leftoverture contains two of my favorite Kansas songs - "What's On Mind" and "The Wall". The second one shows off what Steve Walsh can do. IMHO he's one of the best singers in prog, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he and I share a last name! This review is short because with over 100 reviews, we really don't NEED another one. I'll just finish by saying this is an essential record.
Report this review (#1288511)
Posted Tuesday, October 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lush, bombastic, uniquely 'murican: 8/10

KANSAS was one of the first bands in America to attempt to emulate the roaring (and by their time decadent) European prog and to succeed doing so without sounding like a ripoff. They were able to not only drain from the intercontinental musical fountain but also to amalgamate that with American influences, ultimately crafting a style particular to them. With that being said, KANSAS is an American prog band first and foremost, even with its rather unorthodox leanings.

In LEFTOVERTURE the band crystallizes its musical archetype: [b]focus on melody[/b]. The guitars, the vocals, the synthesizers, the piano or the violins; they are all directed at creating a lush, immersive environment, usually having little complexity (for prog standards at least). Here is where they begin to schism with European prog (which is much more technical-focused, even the Symphonic types). Two other characteristics are also noteworthy: KANSAS ' approach on violin with a cheerful tone and as an accompaniment - rather than as a classically-imbued, lead instrument, typical on British prog - and their hard rocking stance (akin to [b]Rush[/b]). Altogether, these three factors cement KANSAS ' uniqueness.

Something that really deserves attention are the moments KANSAS signals to have quite a lot of potential to build much, MUCH more ambitious musical moments than just their typical "melodism". Specifically for that matter three songs deserve praise: [b]Carry on my Wayward Son[/b], which needs no introduction; [b]Miracles out of Nowhere[/b], which doesn't go overly passionate (as, sometimes, the band does) and culminates in an explosive mixture of their archetypal melody with a dynamic instrumental jam, unexpectedly enjoyable; and the(ir) polyphonic [b]Magnum Opus[/b]. Indeed deserving its name, it's an almost entirely instrumental track with spectacular technicality, complexity, and virtuosity akin to top-notch European prog; unrelentingly eclectic, vivid and creative. It's no stretch to claim that, during those eight minutes, KANSAS becomes the American GENTLE GIANT.

I'm not much of a fan of melodic stuff so I expected KANSAS not to appease me, yet surprisingly they did. I admit that sometimes they feel exceedingly melodic and rather generic, but, generally, their (implicitly bluesy) hard rock feels fresh when combined with lush synthesizers. Combine that with the details described in the last paragraph, and you can understand why LEFTOVERTURE is quite a great album.

Report this review (#1802406)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | Review Permalink

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