Review Summary: Does mixing pop and southern rock with progressive music work? Well it did for Kansas...atleast in some ways.
I have always made fun of Kansas for being a band that has only written two good songs – Carry on My Wayward Son
and Dust in the Wind
. One day my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give Leftoverture
a listen. The album borders between pop and progressive rock. The songs range from mainstream pop ballads to progressive instrumentals. It is safe to say that this album covers a lot of ground, and the band keeps material diverse while still maintaining the familiar “Kansas Style” of music.
There are some really great moments on this album. Carry on My Wayward Son
is the opening track on Leftoverture
. The song is catchy, fast, and has some killer guitar work. The soft vocal sections build into a classic chorus which is followed by fast riffing, a guitar solo, and even a keyboard solo. This song is by far the best on the album. It has great vocals and great musicianship and is also radio friendly. The beginning of the third track, What’s on My Mind
makes for another great moment. The intro is great, the chorus is catchy, and the verses are decent. The song has a good solo, and some great energy. Next to Carry on My Wayward Son
, What’s on My Mind
is the best song on the album. The instrumental work on the next track, Miracles Out of Nowhere,
is progressive and creative, but after this track the album starts to fade in quality.
The great moments on Leftoverture
are often overshadowed by the not so great moments on the album. The second track titled The Wall
has a great guitar intro, but once the guitar fades the listener is left with a dull, mediocre Kansas song. There is a good guitar solo in the middle of the song, but the lyrics and vocals are all dull making the song slow and uneventful. The fifth track, Opus Insert
, has some pop style verses and an instrumental section that will turn any listener away from Kansas with ease. Questions of My Childhood
seems like a failed attempt at a pop song. It is a generic song, and it gets old fast.
Around the seventh track, the album begins to salvage itself. Cheyenne Anthem
is a slow ballad. The verse is backed by a keyboard, and there are some female background vocals, which add to the eerie atmosphere created by the song. The song isn’t great, but it’s not anywhere near as bad as the few songs which preceded it. There is a lot of cool keyboard work on the track which definitely makes it worth a listen, at least once. The final song of the album is more progressive than its predecessors. It is mainly instrumental, with some scattered vocals and a verse here and there. The song has some interesting parts, especially the keyboard riff at the beginning, but it also gets weird in some places and doesn’t flow well.
This album was a mix of decent songs, bad songs, and one amazing song. It was not a complete failure, as Kansas did produce some good material, but many of the songs seemed like filler. They weren't original, and just seemed like generic arena rock songs.
Despite it's shortcomings the album was not a bad listen, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. The opening track, Carry on My Wayward Son
showed that Kansas was capable of making a great song, but they weren’t able to capture that same stroke of genius for the rest of the album. In some cases Kansas’s mix of progressive rock and southern rock was completely disastrous – like the song Opus Insert
, but the mix proved successful on other tracks like What’s on My Mind
. However, nothing on this album measures up to Carry on My Wayward Son
or Dust in the Wind
, so although Kansas does have some other decent songs, I think my assumptions were pretty accurate. Hopefully I will have more luck with their other albums