MUSIC REVIEW: Kansas - Boxed Set by Dave Bealer Welcome to part two in a series of reviews of CDs by bands named

after North American geographical features. This time we take a look at (alright, listen to) the latest release by Kansas. I'm not much for "boxed sets" since they typically contain little in the way of new material. About the only time they make sense, for anyone but the record company, is in the case of artists whose early work is hard to find in CD format. The other problem with many boxed sets is sheer size: you need a good sized truck to take the box home. Might as well make it an armored truck, since you'll need one to guard the money required to purchase the set in first place. The two discs (or cassettes) in the _Kansas Boxed Set_ contain 26 songs, most of which are from the band's first eight albums. Most of the songs are studio cuts from the original albums, ranging from their self-titled 1974 debut album to 1980's _Audio-Visions_. A trio of previously unreleased live performances ("Death of Mother Nature Suite," "Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman," and "On The Other Side") are included, as is the original demo version of "Can I Tell You" that caused Don Kirschner to consider signing the band (then known as White Clover) to his new record label in 1973. Kansas is an album band with a cult following. "Dust In The Wind" is the only Kansas single ever to chart in the top ten (#6, March 1978). One reason for their limited commercial success is the dark nature of most of their lyrics. "Dust In The Wind" itself is about the very temporary nature of man's existence on Earth. Wonderfully moving lyrics for those willing to listen, the message is definitely not a sappy, happy, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" one. Kansas is NOT just a studio band, however. I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. in late 1980 during the _Audio-Visions_ tour. We had sixth row-center seats for an excellent performance which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I couldn't hear anything for a couple of days afterwards. The only rock concert I've ever attended (my hearing is bad enough already, thank you very much), it was worth it to see the six original band members in action together. About a year later Steve Walsh left the band, so that was the last Kansas tour with the original cast. Two things make this boxed set as must-have for Kansas fans. One is the 32 page book which tells the story, in words and pictures, of the band called Kansas, from it's roots as White Clover (circa 1969) to the breakup of the original lineup in late 1981. The other feature is a brand new Kansas song, "Wheels." Written by Kerry Livgren for a solo project, "Wheels" features Steve Walsh's vocals, Kerry Livgren on guitar and keyboards, Phil Ehart on drums, and newcomer David Ragsdale on violin. With the information contained in the book, this boxed set leaves only one real remaining problem for true Kansas fans: when are those brain dead record company executives going to bring _Audio-Visions_,

_Drastic Measures_, and _Vinyl Confessions_ out on CD? # # #

Copyright 1994 Dave Bealer. All Rights Reserved. -------------------------------------------------------------------Dave Bealer is a thirty-something mainframe systems programmer. His musical ability extends to playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on the piano using only five keys. This makes him as qualified to review music as most of those who do it for a living. When not listening to music, Dave writes for and publishes his own e-mag, Random Access Humor. He can be reached at: or at The Puffin's Nest, 1:261/1129, (410)437-3463. =====================================================================