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Kansas: Sail On-The 30th Anniversary Collection (2CD/1DVD)

Even if you already own the 27 tracks spanning six record labels on the latest Kansas compilation, Sail On, the two-CD/one-DVD set is worth the investment for the accompanying 16 videos alone.

While the music here offers little room for argument about Kansas' standing in American progressive-rock history, the band has already been the subject of two other double-disc sets during the past decade (1994's Box Set and 2002's The Ultimate Kansas). When you consider that both of those sets focused primarily on material from the first seven Kansas studio albums, this collection is a little skimpy on the last seven albums – some that arguably had moments that were nearly as good as the earlier stuff. Only one track each from Vinyl Confessions, Drastic Measures, Power, In the Spirit of Things, Freaks of Nature and Somewhere to Elsewhere? Surely, this could easily have been a three-CD set …

But instead of a third CD, we get something even better in the 90-minute-plus, 5.1 surround sound DVD, which boasts vintage television appearances from Don Kirshner's Rock Concert in 1974 and 1975 – unseen for decades – as well as early promo videos and three live selections from 2002's Device Voice Drum DVD recorded in Atlanta. Some of the footage is slightly grainy (and understandably so) but the overall content and quality is astonishingly consistent. The early live performances reveal Kansas to be dead-serious players who, quite frankly, may have been members of the ugliest rock band in history – a point guitarist Rich Williams makes in new interview segments between clips. He jokes about the way the band dressed, and indeed, Williams and singer Steve Walsh were the worst offenders. Williams wore a straw hat during the 1975 Rock Concert performances (the subject of another jab at himself) and Walsh was partial to tight shorts – usually white or red ones.

The promo videos reflect their eras, as the band and its various video producers strived to find creative ways to visually present the music – using psychedelic imagery on "Point of No Return," filming "Reason to Be" in a cave, turning "Fight Fire With Fire" into a ridiculous concept film and transforming Walsh from roller-derby wannabe to blow-dried pretty boy in "All I Wanted."

The interview segments are not only witty, but also informative, with Williams, Walsh and violinist/singer Robby Steinhardt providing the most insight into the band, the songs and the videos. Original guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgen and bassist Dave Hope (wearing the collar of an ordained Anglican minister) also make appearances, as does current bassist Billy Greer. Notably absent are original and current drummer Phil Ehart and Walsh's mid-Eighties replacement John Elefante.

Still, if you were to purchase only one Kansas compilation, Sail On should be it. It's not definitive, but its nostalgia value passes the point of no return…

Track Listing
CD 1
1) Can I Tell You (3:32)
2) Journey From Mariabronn (7:57)
3) Song For America (10:01)
4) Lamplight Symphony (8:14)
5) Icarus (Borne on Wings of Steel) (6:04)
6) The Pinnacle (9:34)
7) Child of Innocence (4:31)
8) Carry On Wayward Son (5:22)
9) Cheyenne Anthem (6:53)
10) Miracles Out of Nowhere (6:26)
11) What's On My Mind (3:28)
CD 1 Total Time: 72:12

CD 2
1) Point of Know Return (3:10
2) Portrait (He Knew) (4:33)
3) Dust in the Wind (3:24)
4) Lightning's Hand (4:22)
5) Sparks of the Tempest (4:15)
6) Paradox (Live) (4:08)
7) People of the South Wind (3:37)
8) Hold On (3:49)
9) Got To Rock On (3:20)
10) Play the Game Tonight (3:25)
11) Fight Fire With Fire (3:39)
12) All I Wanted (3:21)
13) Rainmaker (6:45)
14) Desperate Times (5:24)
15) Eleanor Rigby (3:21)
16) Icarus II (7:15)
CD 2 Total Time: 68:23

1) Can I Tell You (Rock Concert)
2) Journey From Mariabronn (Rock Concert)
3) Death of Mother Nature Suite (Rock Concert)
4) Icarus (Borne on Wings of Steel) (Rock Concert)
5) The Pinnacle (Rock Concert)
6) Point of Know Return (video)
7) Dust in the Wind (video)
8) On the Other Side (video)
9) People of the South Wind (video)
10) Reason to Be (video)
11) Away From You (video)
12) Fight Fire With Fire (video)
13) All I Wanted (video)
14) The Preacher (Device Voice Drum)
15) Miracles Out of Nowhere (Device Voice Drum)
16) Carry On Wayward Son (Device Voice Drum)

Added: October 4th 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Kansas Web Site
Hits: 6577
Language: english

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Kansas: Sail On-The 30th Anniversary Collection (2CD/1DVD)
Posted by Jedd Beaudoin, SoT Senior, SoT Staff Writer on 2004-11-29 23:05:00
My Score:

This collection manages to capture the true essence of Kansas, spanning the band's entire career, checking in on the lads from Topeka in the live and studio arenas and the visual as well as audio realm. While some might sound displeasure at the inclusion of the standard hits (you're not going to get away from "Dust In The Wind") in favor of more unreleased material, tracks such as "People Of The South Wind," a live version of "Paradox" and "Icarus II" do much more to entice casual fans into more serious listening. Same goes for the DVD included here, featuring rare live footage and early videos. While there's no escaping the fact that the concept for the Monolith-era pieces comes across as dated, you can't deny that these clips are a lot of fun to watch. Interviews with Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope make the visual disc a must-have as much as anything else. So, uh, there are archival recordings somewhere, right guys?

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