Kansas
Masque


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (259 Reviews)
July 8th, 2024 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Less prog then the previous album, but still great.

“Masque” is the third studio album of Kansas and that was released in 1975. The line up on the album is Steve Walsh, Rich Williams, Kerry Livgren, Robbie Steinhardt, Dave Hope and Phil Ehart. The album had also the participation of Earl Lon Price.


Kansas is an American progressive rock band from the 70’s that was founded in Topeka, Kansas in 1970. The band was created by members that initially were members of two bands named White Clover and Saratoga. Initially formed by Steve Walsh, Rich Williams, Robby Steinhardt, Kerry Livgren, Dave Hope and Phil Ehart, Kansas recorded some great albums in the 70’s. The first one only called “Kansas” in 1974, the springboard for the success of those that would come later, “Song For America” and “Masque” both in 1975, “Leftoverture” in 1976 and “Point Of Know Return” in 1977. The last two won several awards. The last of the 70’s “Monolith” from 1979 still has the main features of their music.

“Masque” first stands out due to of its interesting cover showing a picture by the Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), the original of which is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It shows a face that is made up of individual fish/sea creatures. Musically, the concept of the previous two albums is continued here. Still, we can say that “Masque” seems a bit more straightforward than its two predecessors, especially at the beginning, like a concession to the record company that there should be something radio compatible. Even though you won’t hear any of this on radio, you can still hear a number of tunes performed live by the current band. So, probably due to that, “Masque” weakens a bit but overall it remains a very good album with some killer tracks. “Masque” remains a mature album and even almost 40 years later it’s still timeless in every way. This is a nice transition between “Song For America” and “Leftoverture”.

“It Takes A Woman’s Love (To Make a Man)” opens weirdly enough with yet another straightforward rock’n’roll song. Even though the tune here has a very distinctive Kansas keyboard sound, it has a very commercial bent to it. It has a bit of country flavouring in the guitar solo and it definitely has a 70’s classic rock sound. “Two Cents Worth” continues in a quite straightforward manner, a bit sophisticated and interesting. This track has a little funkiness to it and although it sounds a little dated, it has a charm to it that makes you forgive the dated sound. “Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steel” is the first jewel on the album where Kansas shows off their prog leanings. This tune has become a concert favorite and before “Carry On Wayward Son” hit big, this is the tune you could have pointed to let people know what Kansas is all about. “All The World” is an impressive and complex symphonic prog track that delivers mellow violin lines along with Walsh’s melodic vocals and piano, not to mention the impressive work of the rest of the band. This track has all the great elements of the classic Kansas songs. “Child Of Innocence” has the hard rock as be the main influence, but with a degree of sophistication and creativity. The melodies and riffs are really outstanding. The performance is superb, showing that these guys were accomplished musicians. This is one of the heavier tracks on this album. “It’s You” is a short rocker not too heavy that clocks in at two and a half minutes. It returns to the easy going spirit of the first two tracks. But despite be short, don’t mistake that it’s a simple song. The frantic violin, keyboard, organ and drumming interplay is fantastic. “Mysteries And Mayhem” is in a similar vein. It’s a very heavy track, one of the fiercest Kansas pieces ever, probably the heaviest on the album and that would prove to be a winner in the live concerts. Somehow, this is the type of a good hard rock song with sustained rythm, some guitar soloing and heavy keys. “The Pinnacle”, as its name indicates, represents the pinnacle of this album. This song is Kansas being themselves cementing their sound. Here the band finally tops themselves with this epic that ranks as one of Livgren’s best compositions. There are heavier parts mixed in with slower parts and an all around prog-ness that only British bands like Yes and Jethro Tull were able to get at the time. This track further proof that Kansas is probably the definitive American prog rock band of the 70’s.


Conclusion: Many may say that “Masque” failed to reach the level of “Song For America”. Somehow, I can agree with them. I classify “Masque” as one of Kansas weaker 70’s albums only surpassed by the weakest of all, “Monolith”, which is far of being a bad album. However, and in my opinion, “Masque” only weakens a bit and still is overall a great album. Overall, Kansas is surprisingly rocking on “Masque”, but that doesn’t mean that the symphonic elements are missing here. Apart the two first tracks on the album, which are dispensable, the rest of the album is good or even great with some of the best tracks ever written by the band like “Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steel”, “All The World” and especially the great jewel of the album, “The Pinnacle” a track that remains, for me, one of my favourite tracks written by Kansas.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (129)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
July 8th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like Kansas a lot, at least the works released in the early days. That is the case of this album. "Masque" belongs to what is in general considered the golden era of Kansas, one of their studio albums released in the 70's. Failing to achieve significant sales with their previous two albums, they tried a more commercial approach in this one. Nevertheless, "Masque" remains to me as one of their best works containing also one of their best and most prog tracks "The Pinnacle".

This is the first review of this album on this site. It's about time to have one too.



DistantDylann
July 8th 2024


41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love your review, in all honesty this is my favorite album they did. "The Pinnacle" is my favorite Kansas song as well!

Space Jester
July 8th 2024


11138 Comments


Would be my favorite Kansas album if not for a few changes. I think Icarus should be the opener, and It Takes a Woman’s Love should be cut entirely. I’m also not a big fan of It’s You and would drop that as well. The only other thing is that Mysteries and Mayhem and The Pinnacle are clearly designed to be one song that was cut in two, as the ending melody of the former is the same as the beginning melody of the latter. People have edited them together into one track and it makes perfect sense. https://youtu.be/Cx1MZzeBiJs?si=-51oXcM3af04Qz77



e210013
July 8th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Dylann. I appreciate. "The Pinnacle" is really an amazing track.

e210013
July 8th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for you share your thoughts about the album with us, Space.

And thanks to share with us that link too.

Space Jester
July 8th 2024


11138 Comments


Of course! Good review as well. My personal tracklist that I listen to looks like this

1. Icarus
2. Two Cents Worth
3. All the World
4. Child of Innocence
5. The Pinnacle (combined version)

Iirc It Takes a Woman’s Love… was a mandate from the record label and the band didn’t really like it, I have also heard that cutting Mysteries and The Pinnacle into two tracks was a mandate as well. Not hard for me to believe either of those things tbh

Sharenge
July 8th 2024


5457 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't think I will like this but I think I am gonna check it out... maybe the next album too since it has that wayward son song from Guitar Hero that song's pretty cool I guesss

e210013
July 9th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks again, Space. I didn't know about the mandate of the record label. But that doesn't surprise me. There are many examples all over story of music that those kinds of things happen very often.

e210013
July 9th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe you should gonna check the next two, Sharenge. "Leftoverture" has "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Point Of Know Return" has "Dust In The Wind".

Koris
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2024


21390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! This isn't my favorite Kansas album (though it's high on my ranking), but The Pinnacle is my absolute favorite Kansas song. Such an incredible epic

Sharenge
July 10th 2024


5457 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Dust in the Wind" is a fine song... but the rest of that album was a hard "no" for me...



been a long while though, might have to dig it out and give it another spin lol... don't even think it's in with my main collection, off in the "Salvation Army junk I got 'cus it was like $1" pile

e210013
July 10th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It the same with me, Brendan. This isn't my favourite Kansas album too. From the 70's, it's my least favourite album after "Monolith", which is the weakest of the six despite I like of it. My favourite is probably "Leftoverture". And "The Pinnacle" is really such an amazing track. One of my favourite too.

Thanks pal.

e210013
July 10th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe it isn't a bad idea to dig out that collection, Sharenge. Lol.

TheIntruder
July 11th 2024


779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As a strange coincidence I finished to listen to the album last night. I like it very much. I finised to rate it right now. I will read your review tonight.

e210013
July 11th 2024


5308 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's true. What a strange but great coincidence. I'm glad you like the album. I hope you can like the review too. Lol.



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