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Somewhere to Elsewhere

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Album Review

Kansas' 2000 album Somewhere to Elsewhere is notable because it's the first recording by the original six members in almost 20 years. Joining vocalist Steve Walsh, guitarist Richard Williams, vocalist/violinist Robby Steinhardt, longtime bassist Billy Greer, and drummer Phil Ehart are original guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren and original bassist Dave Hope. Livgren wrote all ten songs. Somewhere to Elsewhere features the innovative dynamics, and long songs, of Kansas' early work while maintaining a crisply modern production sound. "Icarus II" is a marvelously intricate epic about bomber pilots; the bright piano and violin lines give way to blistering heavy metal guitar symbolizing a bombing attack. "When the World Was Young" is a groovy rocker with Walsh contributing a broad range of vocal tones. The richly moving "The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)" alternates between subdued and bombastic passages with Steinhardt's violin leading the way. The complex, nine-minute "Myriad" is arguably the most "progressive rock" moment on the album. Greer gets his first ever Kansas lead vocal on the easygoing "Look at the Time." Steinhardt sings on "Disappearing Skin Tight Blues," an unusual song with clever but uncharacteristic rhyming lyrics and '50s-like vocal group harmonies. "Distant Vision," another nine-minute piece, features Livgren's trademark: spiritual lyrics. "Not Man Big" has an oddly powerful, loose tempo and bitter lyrics about human folly. A short, goofy singalong acoustic studio jam is included as a hidden bonus track. Technology directly affected the recording of Somewhere to Elsewhere in a rather unsettling way. Walsh wasn't in the studio with the rest of the band. He was also working on a solo album at the time so he burned his vocals on CDs and traded them back and forth with Livgren. Portions of the album's profits will be donated to the World War II Memorial Fund.

Customer Reviews

A solid reunion record

When I first listened to "Somewhere to Elsewhere" I instantly recognized the familiar stylings of the earlier days of Kansas. The first track is an amazing trip in the cockpit of a World War 2 plane in the middle of combat and it somehow makes you feel like you are there yourself experiencing the action and danger! Most of the tunes I find very enjoyable and worth repeated listenings; definately worth buying the whole disc imho;)

A Somewhat Hollow Album

This album is what the worst reviewers have accused Kansas of being for years. Steve Walsh contributed vocals; but no instrumentation, no songs, and no soul to the effort. This album was a letdown when I first heard it. Why was Steve just going through the motions? The one song that did capture my imagination was "Byzantium". It has a haunting feel and lyrics that give thought to where the U.S.A. is in the balance of nations. We delivered the world ("Icarus II") in WW2, but are we on the brink of failure ("Byzantium")? Songs 1, 5, 8, & 9 are worth downloading. Skip the rest.

Simply incredible

How does a band record an hour's worth of music with abolutely no filler? First off, make sure your songs are written by Kerry Livgren. Livgren's signature prog-rock style is timeless; as always, he does his own thing and ignores trends, although he isn't afraid of incorporating something he likes, such as the semi-heavy metal guitar breakdown in the middle of "Icarus II." That's the great thing about prog-rock; it's epic nature allows it to incorporate the best of everything. In clumsy hands, it can take in the worst, too, but Livgren is at his most focused here. Every song tells a story not only with words but with music and there's never anything that doesn't serve the song (even the aforementioned guitar solo; don't worry -- it fits, trust me). Walsh's voice is not the demigod-like instrument it once was, but it's still a powerful and expressive tool that is put to good use (and puts "singers" 30 years his junior to shame). There are two types of people who should buy this album: those that wrote Kansas off sometime after 1980 (either during the Elefante era or during the Walsh-returns-post-Livgren era) and those that long for something more substantial than what Top 40 radio gives you. This is an incredible album; speaking as a fan of Kansas in general (regardless of the lead singer), it's quite possibly my favorite.


Formed: 1970 in Topeka, KS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Fusing the complexity of British prog rock with an American heartland sound representative of their name, Kansas were among the most popular bands of the late '70s; though typically dismissed by critics, many of the group's hits remain staples of AOR radio playlists to this day. Formed in Topeka in 1970, the founding members of the group -- guitarist Kerry Livgren, bassist Dave Hope, and drummer Phil Ehart -- first played together while in high school; with the 1971 addition of classically trained...
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