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Kansas - The Prelude Implicit album review

First album in 16 years from multimillion-selling American prog rockers

“People know the songs, they don’t know who sang it,” drummer Phil Hart has said of the ever-changing line-up of Kansas. “They don’t know that Kerry Livgren wrote it [or] Robby Steinhardt played violin on it. They don’t even care.”

Hart and guitarist Rich Williams are the only current members who played with Kansas in their 70s heyday, but Hart understands that the strength of a brand is greater than the strength of a band. So the band on this latest recording, which includes David Ragsdale, not Steinhardt, on violin, and Ronnie Platt rather than Steve Walsh on keyboards and vocals, will serve fine on the Caribbean rock-cruise circuit. Newcomer Platt sings capably, rocking without rocking the boat.

The Prelude Implicit is cut from typically soft but well-woven Kansas cloth, its most distinctive feature being Ragsdale’s violin wandering across a Byzantine but occasionally boring terrain of guitars and synths on Refugee. Belters such as The Unsung Heroes stand out, while Crowded Isolation begins in pastoral mode before developing into an instrumental tussle. An album for that plentiful constituency, Kansas fans only.