Song for America



by CaliggyJack USER (87 Reviews)
February 28th, 2017 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Kansas' sophomore effort is intense and epic. While not without its flaws, Song For America brings out the best of the band and remains a beautiful release from the Progressive Rock titans.

The Road to Kansas, Part II: Across America

While not a standout success as the Progressive Rock entourage were hoping it would be, their debut album nevertheless became the foundation for how Kansas would operate for the next decade. As their sophomore album was drawing near, the band began to take in more ideas and transform their music into something that would define them for the next 40 years. Make no mistake, Song For America is the Kansas we all know and love. Their debut was an amazing album, but it's Boogie Rock and acoustic elements would never return after that debut. Instead, the band looked onward towards more electronic elements.

Like the previous album, Song For America has short tunes and elongated pieces. The most notable piece is Song for America, a massive, 10-minute undertaking filled with standout synthesizers, electronic guitars, and violins galore. It relishes in its excess with so little shame that one can't help but feel exuberant towards it. Another "long song" would be the 8-minute slow ballad Lamplight Symphony. Unlike Song for America, Lamplight Symphony downplays the violins and guitars in favor of more organ, piano, and percussion elements. While it is overall a great track, some pieces tend to overlap each other to the point where it all becomes jumbled, this left certain instruments in the cold and really hindered what was an overall good track.

Lonely Street features a soft beginning with small guitar flicks as everything builds up with a Hard Rock opening about 50 seconds in. When compared to many of their songs that they made and would make in the future, Lonely Street was really the closest Kansas ever got to pure Hard Rock. Hell, at certain moments the riffing borders on Heavy Metal, but doesn't fall off into the wagon 100%. The great aspect of this tune is in how the track seamlessly goes from soft to hard in quick succession without interrupting the flow of the overall track itself. Of course then we are treated to good ol' Kansas in their synth-laden The Devil Game; a track that basks in synthesizers and background violins as Steve Walsh soars his vocals with such veracity and passion. By far one of the best tracks on the album itself, it wastes no time bringing in some clean guitar solos and beautiful composition of the instruments themselves.

Of course the album has some flaws. The opening track Down the Road completely clashes with the overall theme of Song For America. The song deliberately tried to repeat the style of Kansas' debut album, but fails in that regard. Since most of the album does not even remotely sound like this, the opening track comes off as off putting. Even Steinhardt's Bluegrass vocals stand in contrast to Steve Walsh's vocals for the rest of the album. It simply didn't fit.

The album finishes off with the 12-minute epic Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman, one of the greatest Kansas epics of all time. From it's subtle composition, beautiful background guitars, and psychedelic vocal effects; Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman remains one of Kansas' finest tracks in their storied history. Of course, many have pointed out the absolutely blatant similarities between this tune and the stylings of Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon was released in '73). While it is true that this specific track openly replicates numerous aspects of Pink Floyd's Progressive Rock style, that does not make it bad. Dark Side of the Moon was one of the most successful Progressive Rock albums in the genre's history, and many bands wanted to capitalize on the success that Pink Floyd captured. With that said, this fact does not takeaway from the fact that the song is absolutely glorious.

As Song For America came into the picture, Kansas found themselves redefining their music only two albums in. With the higher success their sophomore record brought them, Kansas would continue to use this style for most of their career. Song For America isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it is a damn fine album and a fine way for Kansas to continue their career. Little did they know, they would soon see greener pastures beyond their wildest dreams.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
February 28th 2017


Pretty good review. Kansas rules, don't think I've heard this album though. I might give it a spin later.

February 28th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

Song for America is the best song by a mile.

February 28th 2017


these guys really had the potential to be big prog giants

sadly the cheesiness took over em

February 28th 2017


I need to check these guys

March 1st 2017


It's nice to see this finally reviewed here. This is one of their best albums indeed.

"Song for America is the best song by a mile."

I completely agree.

"these guys really had the potential to be big prog giants"

I completely agree too.

However and in reality, their 5 first albums are all great and their live debut is great too. Kansas was perhaps the best prog American act in the 70's.Nice review Caliggy. Pos.

P.S. - I need to rating some of their albums one of these days, especially these 6. Great lacune, indeed.

March 1st 2017


Great album, good pick for a review. I keep seeing this and Masque in good condition at a record store

March 1st 2017


I agree, Sab. But don't forget of "Leftoverture" and "Point Of Know Return", perhaps their best, or at lest, they're very close of being.

March 1st 2017


I like the early stuff, and leftoverture, check my review of another quasi prog release, Traffic/ shoot out at the fantasy factory

March 25th 2018


Album Rating: 4.5

underrated prog classic right here

September 6th 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

Drop the first track and this album is an unmitigated prog monster. "Incomudro" was an older Livgren composition written at least two years before this album was recorded. Never heard any Floyd in this, though the Zappa and Crimson influences are still readily apparent.

September 7th 2018


you would know about the Zappa influence, Suzy Creamcheese

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