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(60:28, InsideOut Music)
In my opinion, KANSAS is America’s most important progressive rock band, and some of their releases are among my all-time favorites, “Somewhere to Elsewhere” from 2000 included. Of course, after a 16-year wait, I was eager to listen to the combo’s new album, "The Prelude Implicit", even though I knew that neither Kerry Livgren nor Steve Walsh participated in its creation. What I can tell you from the outset is that I liked the recording, albeit not as much as its predecessor, which, to my mind, is perfect in every respect. About one third of the songs on "The Prelude Implicit" have a more modern sound than the others, and while the instrumental arrangements are interesting everywhere on the album, on some of the tracks (such as the first two, for instance) those are rather short, unlike the vocals-based ones, which, in their turn, are rather straightforward there, the overall picture reminding me of a cross between “Power” and “Freaks of Nature”, though with the latter outing mainly due to the presence of violin. Almost all of the other tracks have a classic Kansas sound, referring to the band’s work in the second half of the ‘70s. Ronnie Plant is a very good vocalist, besides which his voice is very similar to Steve’s, as also is his way of singing in particular. Most of the time I had the impression that I was listening to a logical continuation of the style presented on “Point of Know Return”, as if "The Prelude Implicit”, with its (mostly) grandiose musical palette, equally rich in elements of classic symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, is a follow-up to the band’s 1977 masterpiece. Only within the movements, that are driven by the Hammond, the music sounds slightly different than classic Kansas. I don’t know, whether it’s Ronnie Plant or (another newcomer, keyboardist) David Manion, who plays it, but all the organ solos on the album are quite strongly reminiscent of those in Deep Purple. The acoustic ballad Refugee isn’t as strikingly impressive as ‘Dust in the Wind’, but it doesn’t matter much, because it has a lot of its own merits (and there is no contradiction in what I said). All in all, I’m happy to say that the band didn’t let my expectations down with this – their third – ‘comeback’ album. Recommended!
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