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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

Customer Reviews

Another superb effort from Livgren

The All Music Guide review above is essentially correct about the stellar performances by Kerry Livgren and Warren Ham, but is referring to the original 1988 version when describing the production as barebones. This is the brand new, completely redone 2008 version, and it has a few more songs than the original as well. The production on this one is absolutely top-notch and all of the "programmed" bits have been replaced with live players. The result reveals what a grand record this truly is. The only reason I gave it 4 and not 5 stars is my own personal dislike of a couple of the songs. I think One More Song seems a bit uninspired and I didn't really enjoy the bluesy numbers, TGB and New Kind of Love. They are executed well, but its just not my thing. Also, I always wished Kerry could have tracked down Michael Gleason, the other singer from his band, A.D., to sing the wondrous and lilting song, "Incantos." Michael's more traditional, yet still soaring delivery would have been perfectly suited to that Kemper Crabbe-like number.

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...
Full Bio
Prime Mover (Redux), Kerry Livgren
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