Kansas – Song For America


Artist: Kansas
Artist Genere: Progressive Rock
Title: Song For America
Released: 1975
Label: Kirshner
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Phil Ehart-drums & percussion, Steve Walsh-organ, piano, vibes, lead & backing vocals, synth, Kerry Livgren-Guitar, piano, clavinet, Moog, Oberheim & ARP synths, Rich Williams-acoustic & electric guitar, Robby Steinhardt-violin, viola, lead & backing vocals, Dave Hope-bass
Producer: Jeff Glixman & Wally Gold
Mastering Engineer: Tom Rabstenek

Kansas is an American rock band (I’d call them Progressive Rock as they have all the required elements), that became popular in the 1970s initially on album-oriented rock charts and later with hit singles such as “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind”.
In 1969, Lynn Meredith, Don Montre, Dan Wright and Kerry Livgren (guitars, keyboards, synthesizers) were performing in a band called The Reasons Why in their hometown of Topeka, Kansas. After changing the band’s name to Saratoga, they started playing Livgren’s original material with Scott Kessler playing bass and Zeke Lowe on drums.
In 1970, they changed the band’s name to Kansas and merged with members of rival Topeka progressive rock group Continue reading

U.K. – In The Dead Of Night

Artist: U.K.
Genre: Progressive Rock
Title: In The Dead Of Night
Label: Polydor
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Allan Holdsworth – guitar, Eddie Jobson – keyboards, electric violin, electronics, John Wetton – bass, lead and backing vocals, Bill Bruford – drums, percussion
Engineer: Stephen W Tayler
Mixing Engineer:Stephen W Tayler

U.K. were a British progressive rock supergroup originally active from 1977 until 1980. The band was composed of singer/bassist John Wetton (formerly of King Crimson, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry’s band and Uriah Heep), keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (formerly of Curved Air, Roxy Music and Frank Zappa’s band), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (formerly of Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime and Gong) and drummer Bill Bruford (formerly a full member of Yes and King Crimson, and a tour drummer for Genesis), who was later replaced by drummer Terry Bozzio (formerly of Frank Zappa’s band). UK reformed with John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio for a world tour in 2012.

Throughout their brief existence, U.K.’s music was characterised by skilled musicianship, jazzy harmonies, close harmony vocals, odd-numbered time signatures, mixed meters, electric violin solos, and unusually varied synthesiser (Yamaha CS-80) sonorities. Relative to specific styles, the band spans various genres ranging from progressive rock to jazz fusion.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.K._(band) *Editor’s  note: In my opinion, what is off to me is the claim of close vocal harmonies of which there was none and the claimed “various genre range of Prog Rock to Jazz Fuzion”. This was a Prog Rock band with Classical based styling, there was no “range”. What is also surprising to me is that I thought this LP would be better than it turned out to be in a musical sense in my opinion.

U.K. is the self-titled debut album by the progressive rock supergroup U.K., released in May 1978 through E.G. Records and Polydor Records.

Side 1
1. “In The Dead of Night” – This is the title track. This song introduces terrible lead vocals that stay throughout the LP. This song is somewhat avant-garde Prog Rock. It fades with synth into track 2.
2. “By The Light of Day” – This song not only has uninspired lyrics, but the song on the whole sounds uninspired, like it is just there to take up space.
3. “Presto Vivace and Reprise” – This sounds like a continuation of track 2 and is really awful except for the drums.
4. “Thirty Years” – Here is where we get into “prog rock length tunes” clocking in around 8 minutes. This song starts out with keyboards and acoustic guitar in classical form, but after the first four measures it is ruined by bad vocals. I question what made this guy think he could sing. About a quarter way into the song the drums kick in, but don’t improve things much. There are some interesting time signature changes going into more of a Jazz influence.

Side 2
1. “Alaska” Jobson – This track starts with a synth solo and at about the half-way mark the band kicks in. This song has a jazz influenced prog sound. It is mostly an instrumental and got me thinking “good, something I can listen to”, but towards the end the lead singer comes in and ruins it.
2. “Time To Kill” Jobson, Wetton, Bruford – This comes in as a segue from the first track on this side. This song has good instrumentation and an interesting bridge to it too.
3. “Nevermore” Allan Holdsworth, Jobson, Wetton – This song starts with a solo acoustic jazz guitar as keyboards come in and then drums a few measures later, but once again it is ruined by terrible vocals.
4. “Mental Medication” – The title of this track says how I feel. The vocals sound like a really bad lounge singer.

The sonics on this LP are quite good and I give them 
However, the music is another story earning  and that includes credit for instrumentation. This LP was a disappointment for me.

Renaissance – Self Titled

Artist: Renaissance
Genre:Progressive Rock
Released: 1969
Label: Elektra
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Jane Relf – vocals, percussion, Keith Relf – electric guitar, vocals, harmonica, John Hawken – piano, harpsichord, Louis Cennamo – electric bass guitar
Jim McCarty – drums, vocals
Producer:Paul Samwell-Smith
Engineer:Andy Johns

Renaissance is the self-titled debut album by British progressive rock band Renaissance. Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit “Northern Lights” and progressive rock classics like “Carpet of the Sun”, “Mother Russia”, and “Ashes Are Burning”. They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences. Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam’s wide vocal range (who would join after this LP), prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer, and versatile drum work.
The nucleus of the first line-up was composed of former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, who intended to put “something together with more of a classical influence”. Renaissance was born, and the band released this studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.
Subsequently, there was a period of high turnover of musicians until the “classic line-up” of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established, although none of them were in the original band. They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger. From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic. (Not bad for a Prog rock band, yeah?)
The 80s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however they disbanded again the next year.
2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour. They were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dunford in November 2012. Later, Haslam stated that the band would continue touring. The current line-up is not as English as the band’s early period with five U.S. born members, and one English born member who lives in the U.S. In April 2014 Renaissance released the studio album Symphony of Light, which I have yet to pick up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_(band)
Official website: http://renaissancetouring.com/band/

The only anomaly I find on this album is that the piano sounds like it may have been recorded a little hot. Other wise what we have here is a most enjoyable progressive rock debut LP with all the elements that make up Prog rock.

Side One:
Kings & Queens – This is a progressive rock LP so let’s start it off right with a near eleven minute song. This tune starts off with classical piano and then the drums come in giving the tune an almost Spanish sound. In fact, it is reminiscent of The Doors “Spanish Caravan”. The percussion is fantastic and the song melds into a more 60’s pop/rock sound. The bass playing is great as well in this tune. Then the tune goes back into a more classical style with mostly bass, piano and vocals and then back to solo piano with a “Spanish Caravan” vibe. As for lyrics, well,…..it happens to be themed in the period of The Renaissance, the name of the band is Renaissance after all, so why not?

Innocence – This song has interesting lyrics and a very slight Kansas (another prog rock band) feel. The bridge is interesting as it is basically just classical piano.
Yup, this is all there is on side one.

Side Two:
Island – This is a nice song, but the female vocals sound off to me for some reason. The tune changes to a baroque style with drums for the bridge and ends the same way, rather interesting.

Wanderer – This is the shortest song on the LP at 4 minutes. This tune is kind of in the style of Mannheim Steamroller in it use of a harpsichord and orchestration. The vocals are ok and the song seems to be about getting to know ones goals and success by relaxing in one’s knowledge of one’s self instead of constant chasing.

Bullet – Might as well end the way it began with this 11+ minute tune. The tune starts with kind of a doom feeling soundtrack, a minute later it goes into a funk style with great bass work. A few minutes later, harmonica is added (although judging by the sound, they may have used the wrong type of mic for it). About 3/4 of the way, it goes back to the soundtrack sound, then finishes with a bass solo in the upper register with strange bells.