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Prime Mover (Redux)

Kerry Livgren

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Album Review

Recorded in 1988 primarily to pay off the debts incurred by AD over the previous years, Prime Mover is decidedly among the "more with less" army in terms of production. Cheaply made and hastily recorded, this record utilizes sampled basslines and drum machines leaving guitar, sax, and harmonica as the only real live instruments. That said, Livgren's songwriting and Warren Ham's vocal delivery are among the best work each has ever done. And for all the shortcuts on this record, the Livgren/Ham team make it work with some considerable finesse — take a listen to the metrically off-center instrumental section of "Don't Pass Me By" for a good example. Songs contain all of the complexity and melodic playfulness that Livgren fans had been craving since Audio-Visions, with the yearning lyrics that so categorized the early Kansas recordings. Of particular note is "Wandering Spirit," which thematically sounds as though it could have come straight off of Point of Know Return. Another song actually did come straight off of Point of Know Return, "Portrait II" — with lyrics changed to portray a portrait of Jesus rather than Albert Einstein. On its own merits, this is a very solid album. The final track, "T.G.B." — which apparently stands for "Texas Gospel Blues," finds Livgren in a spooky blues mode — something that's scarcely been seen from him. Ham's vocals on this song are spectacular — with a blues-inflected vocal slide into the each phrase — this track alone is worth the cost admission here. This record was largely re-recorded in 1998 with additional tracks and released as Prime Mover, Vol. 2. ~ Mark W. B. Allender, Rovi

Biography

Born: September 18, 1949 in Topeka, KS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Kerry Livgren was one of the founding members and primary writers for the '70s supergroup Kansas. Having grown up listening to the works of classical composers (notably the Romantics such as Liszt and Wagner), Livgren's songwriting technique has always tended toward orchestration — with an ear for the majestic or the symphonic. Playing with numerous bands throughout the late '60s and early '70s — including early incarnations of Kansas that included Dave Hope and Phil Ehart — Livgren...
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Prime Mover (Redux), Kerry Livgren
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