At the ripe old age of fifty three I must admit to hearing only a handful of tracks by Kansas over the years but this has been rectified by being given the opportunity to review their comeback album The Prelude Implicit since the departure of front man Steve Walsh in August 2014. I expect a lot of diehard fans may have thought he was irreplaceable but Ronnie Platt has a fine voice to say the least.
Currently available via Inside Out Records, their fifteenth studio album and the first in sixteen years since forming in Topeka, Kansas in 1970 kicks off with the punchy ‘With This Heart’ as prominent keyboards herald the first of many impressive vocals from Ronnie. Its gripping AOR grooves are almost Medieval tinged at times with a heavy backbone of drumming from Phil Ehart, one of two original members left. The other being Rich Williams on guitars.
Other highlights are ‘Visiblity Zero’ with its swathes of keys that back a heavy Deep Purple like intro as sweeping power chords provide muscle for driving heavy rock. ‘The Unsung Hero’ is an intense power ballad with a show stopping lead vocal. ‘The Voyage Of Eight Eighteen’ is a heavier ballad as its funk metal intro leads into a fiery keys and guitar midsection. ‘Camouflage’ is grandiose pomp rock that ticks all the boxes, including an almost Opeth like heavy passage. The aptly titled ‘Summer’ breezes along on a journey of upbeat melodic rock but my album highlight is the gentile balladry of ‘Refugee’, containing Ronnie’s most dramatic lead vocal, he pours his heart out backed by an acoustic guitar and violin as the song fades out to a whisper.
Kansas are currently undertaking a headline US tour.
Album track listing :-
With This Heart.
The Unsung Heroes.
Rhythm In The Split.
The Voyage Of Eight Eighteen.
Kansas band line up :-
Phil Ehart – Drums, percussion.
Billy Greer – Bass, vocals (lead vocals on ‘Summer’).
David Manion – Piano, ketboards, organ.
Ronnie Platt – Lead vocals, piano on ‘The Voyage Of The Eight Eighteen’.
David Ragsdale – Violin, vocals.
Rich Williams – Electric and acoustic guitars.
Zak Rivi – Electric guitar, vocals.