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Kansas: Freaks of Nature

Album Notes

Kansas: Steve Walsh (vocals, keyboards); Richard Williams (acoustic & electric guitars); Billy Greer (acoustic guitar, bass, background vocals); David Ragsdale (guitar, violin); Greg Robert (keyboards, background vocals); Phil Ehart (drums).

Additional personnel: Renee Castle (vocals).

Recorded at Caribbean Sound Basin, Trinidad, West Indies.

Unbalanced. This record should have been what the small but rabid masses of Kansas fans had been waiting for, but for some reason it misses. Every moment of greatness on this record is accompanied with a conspicuous flaw. "I Can Fly" -- a revisitation of Kansas' recurrent "Icarus" theme -- opens the disc with an exciting violin line and a soaring vocal sounding strong and fresh. Enter the drums -- precise, thick, and metrical, or in other words clunky -- invoking a feel for the song about as far from "flight" as is possible. Other songs fall prey to the excesses of '80s anthemic rock ("Hope Once Again"). Other embarrassing tracks such as "Under the Knife" or "Black Fathom 4" make an attempt at a dark, disturbing mood but come off like B movies in execution. Original member Kerry Livgren contributes the song "Cold Grey Morning," which, sad to say, is not one of his best. Taken solely in terms of the performances, however, the record is astonishingly good. Arrangements are well-layered and complex. Each player plays with stunning virtuosity. Notable is David Ragsdale's violin -- every bit as good as Steinhardt's playing. ~ Mark W.B. Allender


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