Song for America is quite possibly my all time favorite American progressive rock album. It has finally been digitally remastered by Epic/Legacy and while the upgrade isn't as dramatic as that of Point of Know Return, at least one doesn't have to crank the volume so high to hear it. Released in 1975, Song for America is full tilt symphonic rock with none of the stadium rock numbers that would pop up on later albums.
Comprising four lengthy intricate pieces and two very American style romps, Kansas' second album very admirably showcases the band's trademark duality as proggers and rockers. "Down the Road" is a frantic Southern rock style boogie number, the band chugging along to a lyric about a drug deal gone very wrong. The ten minute title track is one of the most majestic songs in the band's career. Featuring soloing straight out of the best of Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, these guys prove that you don't have to be British to prog out! "Lamplight Symphony" is perhaps the band's most underrated classic piece and the poignant lyrics about everlasting love perfectly compliment the gorgeous instrumental arrangement. "Lonely Street" is perhaps the dark horse of the album as an all out blues rocker and the grim rape and revenge lyrics are the most gritty of the band's career. "The Devil Game" beats Rush at their own game, an epic piece of music with myriad time changes crammed into five minutes. Finally, the album proper finishes with the twelve minute "Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman". It is probably the spaciest song Kansas have ever crafted and the conclusion is simply devastating.
After listening to this album for the first time in a year or so, I am amazed that the band do not revive more of these songs in their current live setlists. For anyone who may have written off Kansas years ago as an AOR act, Song for America will come as a pleasant surprise. Rounded out by two bonus tracks, a radio edit of "Song for America" and a kicking live version of "Down the Road", as well as the original artwork, lyrics and a new essay, now is the time to revisit an American prog classic.
- Down the Road (3:44)
- Song for America (10:03)
- Lamplight Symphony (8:14)
- Lonely Street (5:43)
- The Devil Game (5:04)
- Incomudro-Hymn to the Atman (12:13)
- Song for America (single edit) (3:01)
- Down the Road (live) (3:49)