The Best of Kansas is the first compilation album and 11th album overall from the American rock band Kansas. It was originally released in 1984, and featured one new track, "Perfect Lover," written and performed by then-lead vocalist John Elefante. The compilation was re-released in 1999 in a version supervised by the original band members, so "Perfect Lover" was dropped in favor of three additional tracks: from Song for America, Masque, and a track deleted from Two for the Show to make it fit on a single CD. The album has sold over 4 million copies in the US, and was certified quadruple platinum in 2001.
Kansas' third album, Masque, is a lyrically dark effort courtesy of guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren's brooding songwriting. Musically, Masque foreshadows the tight melodies and instrumental interplay on the next two albums, Leftoverture and Point of Know Return, which together serve as the peak of Kansas' vision. The band deserves more respect than it gets for incorporating British hard rock and progressive rock to become the only U.S. progressive rock band of note during the genre's 1970s heyday. Robbie Steinhardt's violin work certainly helped give Kansas a distinctive sound. The liner notes indicate Masque is a "concept album" thanks to the title's definition: "A disguise of reality created through a theatrical or musical performance." Vocalist/keyboardist Steve Walsh's "It Takes a Woman's Love (To Make a Man)" is the leadoff track, and it's atypical of the rest of the album. The song is a fairly basic yet groovy pop/rock tune about musicians' loneliness on the road, but it is spiced up with some saxophone lines.
As the story goes, Brigid Polk was a longtime friend of the band and one night decided to bring a cassette recorder with her to record their set. This is the result. It's lo-fi, it's mono, but it still sounds like a decent bootleg (even though it is an official release). By the time this was released, Lou Reed had left the band and Velvet Underground was nothing like they were in the days of the peeling banana and locking yourself in a box as a gift. A Deluxe Edition was released by Rhino a few years ago, but this is the original album on Cotillion/Atlantic, as is.
Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, composed in 2000 and transcribed for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz in 2004, is a significant addition to the repertoire of large-scale works for timpani. The work is rhythmically galvanizing, sonically alluring, and features virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists. Symphony No 4 ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’ is Mohammed Fairouz’s first major work for wind ensemble, and its inspiration is the provocative comic book by Art Spiegelman, written shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Spiegelman himself has commented: “I’m moved by [this] scary, somber, and seriously silly symphony…I’m honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9/11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of high-brow cartoon music.”
Bobby Kimball is an iconic pop/rock vocalist best known as the original lead singer of the band Toto. It was Kimball’s soaring tenor lead vocals on those legendary hits including Rosanna, Hold the line, Africa, and I'll Supply the Love that made him so recognizable. He won six Grammy awards from the album Toto IV.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
There is an interesting divide in the reviews here…some think masterpiece, some fairly unenthused. I think this is Procol Harum’s best album. Every song is a winner, although the presence of three vocalists does provide a scattered feeling.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)