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Kansas: The Prelude Implicit

Sixteen years is definitely a long time, and that's how long it's been since the world was graced with an album of all new material from US prog rock legends Kansas. 2000s Somewhere to Elsewhere was a strong effort, and featured the entire original line-up, but until 2016 it remained the last piece of new material as the band continued to trek across the world playing their greatest hits set. Back in 2014, lead vocalist & keyboard player Steve Walsh retired from the band, and in came singer Ronnie Platt, keyboardist David Manion, and more recently, guitarist/songwriter/producer Zak Rizvi, joining founding members Phil Ehart, Rich Williams, and longtime bandmates Billy Greer & David Ragsdale for the fully revamped line-up of Kansas. The result of all of this new blood is the brand new album for InsideOut Records, titled The Prelude Implicit, signaling a new beginning for the band.

It's quickly apparent after the initial listen to The Prelude Implicit that all the elements that we've loved about this band over the years are here in full force. Those gorgeous violin melodies, the sumptuous keyboards, a mix of majestic as well as hard rocking guitars, challenging arrangements, and soaring vocal harmonies, all are present. With repeated spins, these songs quickly stick in your head, and it's easy to declare that many of these will become future Kansas classics. "Rhythm in the Spirit" blends crunchy guitars with grandiose keyboard orchestrations, plus a can't miss Platt chorus and Ragsdale's enchanting violin, while "With This Heart" and "The Unsung Heroes" have those special melodies that have always made the bands output so memorable. "Refugee" is vintage sounding Kansas, as Platt's soaring vocals glide over tranquil violin and gentle acoustic guitars, while the 8+ minute epic "The Voyage of Eight Eighteen" will take you back to the great albums Leftoverture and Point of Know Return with its daring, complex arrangements and sweeping melodies. If you love the pairing of hard rock guitars and Hammond organ, check out the driving "Camouflage" or the upbeat "Summer", the latter seeing Ragsdale throwing his violin into the fray for a wild hard prog party. "Crowded Isolation" is another heavy prog number, again with some great Hammond work courtesy of Manion, and the instrumental "Section 60" is just, well, beautiful, complete with heartfelt violin and symphonic keyboards. If you pick up the special edition of the CD from the band, there are two bonus tracks, the traditional piece "Home on the Range", which is given a fun Kansas spin, featuring lush acoustic guitars, violin, and Hammond, as well as their take on "Oh Shenandoah", which is quite majestic, and given the complete Kansas stamp.

You have to give plenty of kudos to the entire band, as this is just a fantastic, well rounded effort on all levels. Ronnie Platt brings his own individual style to the group, and in no way is a Steve Walsh soundalike, which is very refreshing. He's the perfect fit for this band, and if you've seen them live recently you can see just what he brings to the bands classic material. With not a weak track to be found, The Prelude Implicit is a welcome return from one of the most beloved progressive rock acts to ever come out of the US, and it shows they have plenty of mileage left in the tank. This is easily one of 2016's highlights folks, and a must hear for anyone who loves the bands classic albums from the '70s and '80s.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing

  1. With This Heart
  2. Visibility Zero
  3. The Unsung Heroes
  4. Rhythm in the Spirit
  5. Refugee
  6. The Voyage of Eight Eighteen
  7. Camouflage
  8. Summer
  9. Crowded Isolation
  10. Section 60
  11. Home On the Range-bonus track
  12. Oh Shenandoah-bonus track

Added: November 1st 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 3517
Language: english

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Kansas: The Prelude Implicit
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-11-01 23:36:15
My Score:

A new Kansas album in 2016. Who would have thought? This has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year for me as I have been a huge fan of the band since their glory days in the mid '70s. I thought Somewhere to Elsewhere was a strong effort but that was sixteen years. A lot has happened since, most notably the retirement of Steve Walsh three years ago. Enter vocalist Ronnie Platt, who happens to be a veteran of the music scene and a big fan of the band since their early days.

If you are not already familiar with the band members here they are:

Phil Ehart (drums)
Billy Greer (bass, vocals, lead vocals on "Summer")
David Manion (piano , keyboards, organ, sound designer)
Ronnie Platt (lead vocals, piano on "The Voyage of Eight Eighteen")
David Ragsdale (violin, vocals)
Zak Rizvi (electric guitar, vocals)
Richard Williams (electric and acoustic guitar)

So what can you expect with this Kansas album? Well a bit of everything I suppose. The first two tracks "With This Heart" and "Visibility Zero" have that classic Kansas hard rock melodic sound without being too adventurous but still very good and a great beginning to the album. Kansas has always been able to write some great ballads and continue that here with the moving "The Unsung Heroes" beginning with a wonderful violin melody and continuing with thoughtful lyrics and nice piano throughout. One of the heaviest tracks is the powerful "Rhythm In The Spirit" where excellent guitar riffs and background organ lighten up before an ear catching chorus unfolds. I love how the soundscape is interjected with heavy rhythms before the song ends with moody bass and textural keyboards. Beautiful acoustics highlight "Refugee" while the most progressive track is "The Voyage of Eight Eighteen" where dynamic rhythms of violin and guitar amp up the intensity before slowing down focusing on vocals and piano. This pendulum motion of back and forth plays out until a dynamic break where odd meters and scorching guitar and organ demonstrate the true progressive force of the band. The heavy rock returns with more of that classic Kansas sound with "Camouflage" featuring some great riffs followed by the addictive "Summer", as catchy as anything on the disc with fine lead vocals from Billy Greer. "Crowded Isolation" is another progressive piece where the riffs, keyboards and violin all make musical statements. The ending bonus tracks "Home On the Range" and "Oh Shenandoah" add more acoustic moments that this band does so well. I thought both arrangements work very well.

While The Prelude Implicit is not quite on par with their classic '70s material like Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return, in 2016 I really could not have asked for anything more from a band that will always hold a special place in my heart. What a strong comeback and the best thing is there is already talk of another album in the future. Also, congratulations to the band for hooking up with Inside Out Music who will certainly help spread the good word. Now, if you will excuse me I am going to give this another spin.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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