Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Friday: Toto, I don't believe we're in Kansas anymore

It's Friday, and the 2nd Platinum Vinyl Awards are finished. That means it is time for another edition of flashback Friday. For those new to The Night Beat, Flashback Friday is where we go back in the time machine, and bring a new generation up to speed on some of the bands of the past. While for the most part we feature Christian Bands, this week we step into crossover territory.

In the 1970's in the Heartland of America a Progressive Rock band was formed by Dave Hope (Bass), Phil Ehart (Drums) and Kerry Livgren (Guitars, Keys, Synths). It was called Kansas. From the beginning the album was gold (or actually Platinum). One album in particular, Leftoverture (1976), was certified 5x Platinum in 2001. While that is a pretty good record, pardon the pun, by way of reference Evanescence debut Fallen is over 7x Platinum with only about half the time needed. Success is relative. The biggest single on Leftoverture was Carry On Wayward Son.

A Funny thing happened on the way to success. A few of Kansas "wayward sons", specifically Hope and Livgren, got saved. Beginning with Audio-Visions, Kansas entered a sort of Christian Phase. By the time Vinyl Confessions was being written things came to a head, and vocalist Steve Walsh quit after refusing to sing Crossfire.

Kansas had to quickly find a new vocalist and they hired John Elefante, who, in a bit of a surprise coincidence, also happened to be a Christian. Vinyl Confessions got a lot of airplay on WENC, but my favorite wasn't crossfire but instead Play the Game Tonight.

The Christian era of Kansas soon ended, and Livgren and Hope left the band and founded what was one of the most innovative Christian Rock bands of the era. AD. Officially they put out Three albums: Timeline, Art of The State, and Prime Mover. To most fans the second is the best. AD wasn't afraid to take on the issues of the day, but unlike most bands, they married the message to top notch production and music. In the Christian Music world this was as far apart as Kansas was from Oz.

This is Slow Motion Suicide from Timeline

And finally, this is Progress from Art of the State.

There aren't many bands like AD today, willing to take creative risks, on either side of the music aisle. Perhaps they were right. Progress is marching backward. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.