Kansas - Always Never The Same album review

Kansas meet the LSO at Abbey Road.

Kansas Always Never The Same album cover

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The decision by Kansas – never ones to knowingly undersell anything – to hire the London Symphony Orchestra and rework their catalogue (and record a handful of new songs) at Abbey Road Studios was meant as a marker in the sand for a band looking to revitalise themselves in the early 90s.

As sweeping gestures go, it was a grand one; if one rock band was designed to work with an orchestra in mind (ELO not withstanding) it was Kansas. Overblown, and inhabiting a world somewhere between pomp and prog, they were built to have a mass of strings, brass and the rest working away determinedly behind them.

For the most part it worked, too, even on what could have been a risky take on The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby (or Elenor Rigby as the sleeve insists it’s spelled). And strings were never going to sound too out of place on songs like Prelude & Introduction and Cheyenne Anthem.

The slew of new tunes written for the record – The Sky Is Falling, In Your Eyes, Need To Know – are quasi-Kansas, a welter of time changes, stacked harmonies and melody all designed to fit neatly into their catalogue.

Philip Wilding

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.