Members: Steve Walsh - vocals, Kerry Livgren - keyboards & guitars, Phil Ehart - drums
Billy Greer - bass, Dave Hope - bass, Robby Steinhardt - violins, Richard Williams - guitars
"I don't think we fit anywhere, and I'm very proud of that. Meaning that the band, to me, defies easy categorization, and that's something I personally hold very highly. I like that fact. I'd just call us an American progressive rock band, which I guess is different from the British approach because of the blues influence." A plaintive basis for discussion from guitarist and keyboardist Kerry Livgren on this crucial rock event that finds Kansas reconvening for a full-on reunion album for 2000.
And the man's words ring true. Kansas, with 30 million albums sold over 30 years, prove that their unique brand of heartland art rock can, and indeed does, live on. Somewhere To Elsewhere, recorded at Grandy Zine Studios on Livgren's farm in Berryton, Kansas, underscores and emphasizes that fact in fine fashion, the band creating dynamic progressive rock that indeed takes the listener elsewhere, back to the multi-platinum strings and strains of 'Carry On My Wayward Son' and 'Dust In The Wind', and forward to the front edge of creative music-making this collective has produced since 1970.
Kansas has indeed kept nearly continuously busy for the past 30 years, challenging audiences with sights and sounds with only a two year break between 1983 and 1985; and since 1991, playing a minimum of 100 dates a year. But Somewhere To Elsewhere is a big event in the long history of this esteemed progressive collective, bringing back each and all recent contributors and original members, including lead singer Steve Walsh, frontman and violinist Robbie Steinhardt (essentially the band has had a unique two frontman configuration), and chief writer of the album Kerry Livgren, back after a 17-year absence.
The result is a record that flames and flares with Kansas chemistries. Seven alumni are involved, including two very different guitar minds, three lead vocalists (Steve Walsh takes most of the leads, although original frontman Robbie Steinhardt takes two, while Billy Greer takes one), rounded out with two different bassists, a drummer, and the band's signature violin, the aforementioned Robbie Steinhardt being the original at this unique post.
Drummer Phil Ehart explains how the project got its start. "Kerry and I discussed over the number of months leading up to this that he was writing material that sounded very much like early Kansas. So he was just as surprised as we were. The stuff was coming out of him and getting demoed and he was like 'This sounds like classic Kansas.' So that's when we took a good listen, and when we heard it we said, 'we really want to do this. This is powerful material.'"
The band then convened at Kerry's rural studio. Kerry speaks fondly of the sessions that ensued. "Probably the most significant thing was the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere minus all the normal stresses of recording. And I think that really contributed greatly to the album's vibe. I think that's one of the reasons I like this album so much. For one thing it is a reunion. It's a bunch of guys with an incredible past that haven't worked together in a long time. I guess we got together to see if we could still do it, and not only could we still do it, but maybe in a lot of ways, we found that we could do it better than we ever did."
And the finished product is rife with good wishes and vitality, while at the same time, constructed firmly with the band's '70s accomplishments in mind. Kerry quantifies this fine balance. "I guess that in the nature of things writing seems to be cyclical. We got to a point where we no longer cared about trying to fit neatly into any of the format niches. I came to the resolution myself that 'why not write what I do best and not worry about the consequences?' Be true to your school (laughs). And what seems to be interesting, with the buzz about the band, is that people are generally very glad we did that rather than try to fit in."
Vocal dramatist Steve Walsh sees 'mood' in the final result: "I think every song on this album has sections that vacillate between extremes. It is incredibly moody. And I think things people identify with us in terms of the past, are also here in the present. And moody means a variety of moods, not just purples and browns and blacks. It's uplifting as well."
Somewhere To Elsewhere gives listeners a prog rock trip heavy on dynamics – each tight, hard rock arrangement countered with moments as touching as 'The Coming Dawn'; calming exotica like 'Byzantium' countered by signature grand arrangements like 'Distant Vision'. The key is that Kansas can only be seen in the summation of its many stylistic forays. It is a tall order, but this is a band that has never patronized their audience's intelligence, ever optimistic that the caravan to elsewhere can be a productive collective experience.
Steve Walsh adds, "I would say Somewhere To Elsewhere is a branch of the tree that got us to wherever we are now. There's still experimentation going on, as there always will be. But there's a certain element where you go 'oh, I see now. I hear this and I recognize who this is.' There's definite identity in this material."
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Release Date: July 11, 2000
Buy Directly from Magna Carta $15.98 [shipping/handling included within USA]
Download "Somewhere To Elsewhere"
Catalog #MA-9050-2 Release Date: July 11, 2000
1. Icarus II
2. When the World Was Young
3. Grand Fun Alley
4. The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)
6. Look at the Time
7. Disappearing Skin Tight Blues
8. Distant Vision
10. Not Man Bag
Steve Walsh - Glossolalia
Catalog # MA-9043-2
Buy Directly from Magna Carta $15.98 [shipping/handling included] Download The Album Now Release Date: September 12, 2000
1. Glossolalia 5:30
2. Serious Wreckage 6:03
3. Heart Attack 4:15
4. Kansas 8:54
5. Nothing 3:09
6. Haunted Man 5:38
7. Smackin' the Clowns 10:04
8. That's What Love's All About 5:13
9. Mascara Tears 5:42
10. Rebecca 5:15
Steve Morse - Major Impacts
Catalog # MA-9042-2
Buy Directly from Magna Carta $15.98 [shipping/handling included] Download The Album Now Release Date: July 11, 2000
1. Derailleur Gears 4:39
2. Well I Have 4:13
3. Truth Ola 5:33
4. Migration 3:55
5. Led On 5:58
6. The White Light 3:21
7. How Does It Feel? 4:10
8. Bring It To Me 4:03
9. Something Gently Weeps 4:38
10. Free In the Park 4:36
11. Prognosis 6:03