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Kerry Livgren / Kerry Livgren A. D. (USA)
Overall View

Prologue. Kerry Livgren was the former, leader, and primary mastermind behind Kansas from 1970 to 1983. With the exception of 2000, when Kerry was back with Kansas to release the "Somewhere To Elsewhere" album, since 1984 and up to now he forged a solo path. To learn more, read the interview with Kerry Livgren. Apart from this Overall View, there is another Kerry Livgren-related review on ProgressoR.


Discography (the compilation and remake albums aren't included):

1980 - "Seeds of Change"
("Kirshner" / "CBS")
****+

1984 - "Time Line"
("CBS")
****

1985 - "Art of the State" /AD/
('Kerygma')
***

1986/1996 - "Reconstructions-II" /AD/
('Kerygma')
****+

1988 - "Prime Mover" /AD/
("Sparrow")
*****

1989 - "One of Several Possible Musiks"
("Sparrow" / "One Way", 1996)
******

1995 - "When Things Get Electric"
('Numavox')
****+

1997 - "Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye" /soundtrack/
('Numavox')
******

2000 - "Collector's Sedition"
('Numavox')


1980 - "Seeds of Change"
("Kirshner" / "CBS")
****+

Tracklist:
1. Just One Way 5:46
2. Mask of the Great Deceiver 7:36
3. How Can You Live 4:13
4. Whiskey Seed 5:33
5. To Live For The King 4:53
6. Down To the Core 5:18
7. Ground Zero 8:36

All tracks: written & produced by Kerry Livgren. 

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars;
keyboards; percussion (+ vocals on 4)

Guest musicians:

Phil Ehart (of Kansas) - drums (on three tracks)
Barriemore Barlow (of J-Tull & Robert Plant) - drums (on four tracks)
Paul Goddard - bass guitar (on three tracks)
Bobby Campo - trumpet (on 1 & 6)
Ronnie James Dio (of Black Sabbath & Solo) - vocals (on 2 & 5)
David Pack (of Ambrosia & The Alan Parsons Project) - vocals (on 7)
Jeff Pollard - vocals (on 1)
Davey Moire - vocals (on 6)
Steve Walsh (of Kansas) - vocals (on 3)
Robbie Steinhardt (of Kansas) - violin (on 7)

With: a dozen of back vocalists

The Album. With the exception of How Can You Live (track 3), which was sung by Kansas's Steve Walsh and reminds me of Kansas both instrumentally and vocally, all of the other tracks that are featured on the album are original. So, on the whole, the music of "Seeds of Change" can't be compared with anything that exists under the sun of the world of Progressive and all of the other musical genres, etc. Unlike most of the artists, whose solo careers are linked with the names of the famous bands (not to mention the 'wannabe' performers), Kerry had chosen such a solo way that is free even of his own (Kansas-related) influences. While the majority of songs from the debut Kerry Livgren solo album are original, they however, are different among themselves by a few stylistic aspects. There are five excellent songs on the album in all. Three of them, the aforementioned, How Can You Live and Ground Zero (7), are the songs of a pure Classic Symphonic Progressive. How Can You Live is marked with the frequent changes of tempo and mood and complex arrangements in general. Walsh sings as great as always, while the instrumental parts consist of diverse and, often, contrasting interplay between passages of piano and acoustic guitar, and solos of organ, synthesizer, and electric guitar. Ground Zero is a grandiose, epic and bombastic, song, which is very rich in colors of both of the instrumental and vocal musical palettes. The brass-like and other solos and chords of synthesizers, passages of piano and violin, excellent vocals by David Pack, the alternation of (wonderful) female and male choirs: all these are the main features of the closing track on the album. Mask of the Great Deceiver (2), which was wonderfully sung by Dio, represents a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. As well as both of the tracks that were described previously, it is also filled with the essential progressive ingredients. Furthermore, IMHO, Mask of the Great Deceiver is the best song on the album (and there are no instrumentals on it). The best definition of Just One Way (1) would probably be a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Progressive Hard Rock. Interplay between solos and riffs of electric guitar and solos of organ and synthesizer dominate in the arrangements of the opening track on the album. Also, there is a long and excellent instrumental part closer to the end of this song. To Live For The King (5), also sung by Dio, is a brilliant Progressive Hard Rock ballad. The contrasting interplay between the soft passages of acoustic guitar and heavy riffs of electric guitar that are featured on it sound simply amazing. Whiskey Seed and Down To the Core are for the most part based on the vocals. While the first of them, by the way, was excellently sung by Kerry himself. However, it must be mentioned that the instrumental arrangements are intensive not only on those five Classic Progressive songs, but also on both of these ones. In fact, the instrumental arrangements flow 'classically' throughout the album regardless whether there are the vocals or not. The work of both of the bosses of rhythm-section, as well as the performing skills of all of the other musicians on the album, is truly top-notch. Finally, the average statistical level of complexity of the music that is featured on "Seeds of Change" is quite comparable to that on Kansas's "Audio-Visions" album of the same year.

VM. April 25, 2002
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1984 - "Time Line"
("CBS")
****

Tracklist:
1. Time Line 4:04
2. Tonight 4:53
3. Make Or Break It 3:49
4. Take Us To the Water 4:28
5. Beyond the Pale 3:33
6. New Age Blues 3:54
7. Slow Motion Suicide 4:46
8. High On a Hill 3:52
9. Life Undercover 3:27
10. Welcome To the War 4:11

All tracks: by K. Livgren,
except 3, 5, & 6 (by Livgren, M. Gleason). 
Produced by Kerry Livgren.

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - guitars, keyboards, electronic percussion
Michael Gleason - lead & backing vocals, keyboards, percussion
Warren Ham - lead & backing vocals, woodwinds
Dennis Holt - drums & percussion
Dave Hope (also ex-Kansas) - bass guitar

The Album. It's clear to me why this album has on the whole more a commercial sound than the debut Kerry Livgren album "Seeds of Change". It was a hard time to live for any progressive bands and especially those that were contracted with major labels, like in this very case. The other shades of "Time Line" are concerned to Warren Ham's vocals. Warren's voice and his way of singing are not unlike those of Steve Walsh, which made the overall stylistics of this album in many ways similar to that of Kansas (circa "Audio-Visions"). In that way, while listening to the album and summarizing all of the said details, including 'commercial' ones, I thought that "Time Line" could've been on a right place, being the next Kansas album after "Drastic Measures" of 1983. (Well, these are just my imaginations.) However, only the first three songs on the album sound distinctly commercial. Musically, they represent just a slightly Prog-tinged, truly modern and stylish, AOR / Hard Rock, which, as you know, was a typical phenomenon in those 'dark years'. Fortunately, each of the remaining seven songs features a rather long instrumental part. On the other hand, only four of these songs can be called the works of Classic Progressive: New Age Blues, High On a Hill, Welcome To the War, and Slow Motion Suicide (tracks 6, 8, 10, & 7 respectively). For some reason, the latter of them doesn't feature any parts of guitar, which, though, doesn't diminish a value of this song. The instrumental arrangements that are featured on these four songs are truly hard-edged. What's central however, they flow nonstop throughout each of these songs regardless whether there are the vocals. Take Us To the Water and Life Undercover (tracks 4 & 9) represent Progressive Hard Rock, while their instrumental parts were done in the vein of a typical Neo Progressive. Finally, Beyond the Pale is a wonderful Classic Art-Rock ballad. Yes, it sounds by no means bombastic, etc. However, all of the instrumental arrangements that are featured on it are very diverse and tasteful, especially those by Kerry on an acoustic piano. So, there are five excellent and two good songs on the second solo album by Kerry Livgren (which, in fact, is the first album by the band Kerry Livgren A. D.)

VM. May 3, 2002
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1985 - "Art of the State" /AD/
('Kerysma')
***

Tracklist:
1. All Creation Sings 4:24 (Livgren)
2. We are the Men 4:45 (Livgren)
3. Lead Me To Reason 4:00 (Gleason)
4. The Only Way To Have a Friend 4:18 (Livgren)
5. Games of Chance & Circumstance 4:19 (Gleason)
6. The Fury 5:38 (Livgren)
7. Progress 4:43 (Livgren)
8. Heartland 3:45 (Gleason)
9. Zion 3:26 (Ham, Livgren)
10. Up From the Wasteland 4:26 (Livgren, Gleason)

Line-up:
same as on the previous album
(see "Time Line" album)

Produced, recorded, & mixed by Kerry Livgren
at "Camp" studio, Dun-Woody, GA.

The Album. This album is dedicated to the memory of James H. Hope, who was probably a close relative of bassist Dave Hope. Here, as you see, Kerry shares an authorship with another band member, as well as it was in Kansas. And the duties of Steve Walsh take Mike Gleason, who is also the keyboardist and one of the two lead vocalists of the band. I have to say that instrumentally, the music that is featured on this album is original, as well as on all the other Kansas and Kerry Livgren albums that I've heard. However, I didn't expect that the first album that Kerry released on his own label "Kerysma" (I guess, this is a combination of words Kerry & Charisma), would be more poppy than "Time Line", released by "CBS". In fact, "Art of the State" has a very commercial feel to it. There aren't songs on the album that would've been created differently than by a "couplet-refrain" scheme. Half of them, namely All Creation Sings, We are the Men, Progress, Zion, and Up From the Wasteland (tracks 1, 2, 7, 9, & 10), are nothing else but the songs of just a slightly Prog-tinged, up-to-date AOR, which was very fashionable in those years. Each of the following four songs: Lead Me To Reason, The Only Way To Have a Friend, Games of Chance & Circumstance, and Heartland (3, 4, 5, & 8), contains more or less a decent instrumental part. So all of them can be united under a 'banner' of the most accessible manifestation of Neo Progressive. The only song on the album that I really like is The Fury (6). Overall, this is just a ballad. However, all the arrangements that are featured on it are diverse and very tasteful. Certainly, Warren Ham sings here not unlike Steve Walsh, as usual. While Mike Gleason, however, sings in a more original way. By the way, he takes the lead vocal parts on this album more often than he did it on "Time Line". However, I like equally the vocals of both of these singers. In the beginning of this material, I said that "Prime Mover" was the only Kerry Livgren album that I've heard until now. As far as I remember, this is really an interesting album, despite the fact that it features a drum machine instead of a real drummer. So I can assume that the middle and late periods of the creation of Kerry Livgren are stronger than the early one. In my view, it just cannot be quite the wrong way.

VM. May 10, 2002
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1986 - "Reconstructions-II" /AD/
(52 min, AD)

Tracklist:

1. One Golden Thread 5:08
2. Walking the Wire 3:58
3. We Draw the Line 3:48
4. No Standing 4:02
5. All In Time* 3:47
6. Exiles 4:20
7. Life of Crime 4:25
8. You Are the Distance 4:10
9. All Fall Down 4:51
10. Highway To the Heart 3:46
11. Free Fire Zone* 4:46
12. Bright Star* 5:41

Note: the original "Reconstructions" album
does not contain the tracks that are marked with *.

All tracks by Kerry Livgren,
except 5 by Michael Gleason.

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - guitars; keyboards
Michael Gleason - keyboards; lead & backing vocals
Dennis Holt - drums & percussion
Dave Hope - bass guitar

Produced by Kerry Livgren.
Recorded & mixed by Kerry Livgren
at "Camp" studio, Dun-Woody, GA.

The Album. At last, I received the 'reconstructed' version of the second AD album, "Reconstructions", so here is the review of it. As you can see above, the flautist and one of the two lead vocalists of AD, Warren Ham, did not participate in the creation of this album at all (he was back on "Prime Mover": see review below). So, "Reconstructions" is the only album in the discography of Kerry Livgren where the palette of lead vocals is uniform, which is by no means bad, in my view. Especially since Michael Gleason's singing, unlike Warren's, does not resemble that of Steve Walsh at all. I would rate "Reconstructed Reconstructions" with five stars if only All In Time and Highway To the Heart (tracks 5 & 10) were not included in it. These two are just the AOR songs with a 'modern' sound that was typical for many of the famous bands at the 'dark' decade of the 1980s. Each of them was composed by a simple couplet-refrain 'scheme' and does not contain any decent instrumental arrangements, not to mention separate instrumental parts. The following songs: One Golden Thread, Walking the Wire, Life of Crime, You Are the Distance, and All Fall Down (1, 2, 7, 8, & 9) are about a blend of Neo Art-Rock and progressive Hard Rock of a good quality. All of them feature separate instrumental parts, consisting of interesting interplay between solos and riffs of electric and bass guitars and passages of synthesizers, though Walking the Wire, in addition, contains the effective brass-like flashes. The instrumental arrangements that are present on Exiles (6) are, overall, in the vein of those five songs that I've just described, despite the fact that they are often accompanied by various vibe-like solos, some of which are clearly of an African 'nature'. No Standing (4) is a classic Art-Rock ballad, which is filled with diverse interplay between solos of bass guitar and very beautiful, soft, and truly symphonic passages of acoustic guitar and cello, along with the heartfelt vocals. This song is as touching as the unfading Dust In the Wind. The next two songs, We Draw the Line and Free Fire Zone (3 & 11), are the 'official' representatives of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock genre: they feature all the essential progressive ingredients that are typical for this genre. Finally, Bright Star, - the last and the longest track on the album, - is a true masterpiece. (Which, by the way, is a characteristic feature of many albums by Kerry Livgren.) Stylistically, this song represents a hard-edged Classic Art-Rock with elements of Classical Academic Music. Diverse and contrasting interplay between the delicate passages of piano and string ensemble and harsh solos of guitar are the highlights of this wonderful composition. In my view, "Reconstructions" is not only much better than "Art of the State", but also the most original among those albums by Kerry Livgren that were released from 1980 to 1988. Musically, it's almost as excellent as "Prime Mover", which I find the best album within the framework of AD.

VM. July 26, 2002
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1988 - "Prime Mover" /AD/
("Sparrow")
*****

Tracklist:
1. Out of Opus*
2. Portrait-2
3. Don't Pass Me By
4. Fathers & Sons
5. Incantos*
6. I'll Follow You
7. Fair Exchange*
8. New Kind of Love
9. Brave Hearts*
10. Wandering Spirit
11. One More Song
12. Item 89*
13. Children of the Shadows
14. TGB

All tracks by K. Livgren,
except 6 by Michael Gleason. 
Note: * - new songs were composed at the time
of re-recording the original "Prime Mover" tracks.

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - guitars; bass; keyboards;
                drum-programming; backing vocals
Warren Ham - lead vocals; flute & sax; harp

Produced & engineered by Kerry Livgren.

The Album. I think that I was right when I decided to review the new version of "Prime Mover". It contains not only all the tracks from the original "Prime Mover" album, but also five new ones. Taken together, they last 23 minutes. In any case, though, it would be unforgivable to pass them by. Well, let's begin with the new songs, after which it will be easier for me to describe properly the "Prime Mover" album. These are Out of Opus, Incantos, Fair Exchange, Brave Hearts, and Item 89 (tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, & 12). Out of Opus is the only instrumental piece on the album. It consists of wonderful, diverse and complex, interplay between the 'synthetic' solos of various violins and oboe, all of which sound pretty realistic. Most of all, these arrangements remind me of Classical Academic Music. Apart from the traditional 'Rock' instruments, Brave Hearts (9) is also full of 'synthetic' solos and passages of Church organ, harp, and various brass instruments, all of which sound rather natural as well. All the vocal and instrumental parts that are present on Brave Hearts are very original, intriguing, and... just brilliant by all means (including 'progressive' ones, of course). This song, filled with all the essential progressive ingredients of Classic Symphonic Progressive, is, IMHO, the best track on the CD. All the parts of vocal and acoustic guitar, that are featured on the Classic Art-Rock ballad Incantos, are, for some reason, much in the vein of Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson. Fortunately, all the basic instrumental arrangements of this song, consisting of interplay between passages of cello and harp and solos of oboe, flute, and bass guitar, are original and have a slight medieval feel to them. Both Fair Exchange and Item 89 (7 & 12) were created within the framework of the same stylistics, which, overall, is uniform and typical for the "Prime Mover" album. Only two tracks of this album are slightly differ from the others: New Kind of Love and TGB (8 & 14). Both of them are marked with the alternation of Bluesy structures and those that, on the whole, are typical for Kansas's model of Symphonic Rock. While the latter are the only structures that all seven of the remaining tracks of "Prime Mover" and both of the said new songs are based on. So, these are Portrait-2, Don't Pass Me By, Fathers & Sons, I'll Follow You, Fair Exchange, Wandering Spirit, One More Song, Item 89, Children of the Shadows (2 to 4, 6 & 7, 10 to 13). The set of these nine songs, all of which are of a unified stylistic concept, is kind of an album within an album. Stylistically, all of these songs represent a true, diverse and tasteful, Classic Symphonic Progressive, which, on the whole, is in the vein of Kansas circa "Song For America", though there are enough of new and original ideas as well. Each of them contains the large-scaled, diverse and intriguing, instrumental arrangements. What is central, however, these arrangements remain intensive regardless whether there are the vocals. In all, "Prime Mover" is, on the whole, an excellent album (so, memory is still OK), while its renewed version is even better (which should be logical, though). I find this album stronger than "Masque" (1975/1), not to mention the last three albums by Kansas's Mark-I (of 1980, 1982, & 1983).

VM. May 17, 2002
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1989 - "One of Several Possible Musiks"
(42 min, "Sparrow" / "One Way", 1996)
******

Tracklist:
1. Ancient Wing 4:12
2. And I Saw, As It Were Konelrad 4:53
3. Colonnade Gardens 4:07
4. In the Sides of the North 4:22
5. Alenna In the Sun 4:16
6. Tannin Dance 3:34
7. The Far Country 3:43
8. Diaspora 3:32
9. A Fistful of Drachma 4:05
10. Tenth of Nisan 4:45

Composed, arranged, performed,
& produced by Kerry Livgren.

Recorded & mixed by KL
at "The Peach" studio, Covington, GA.

Mastered by Glen Meadows
at "Masterfonics, Inc.", Nashville, TN.

One of the first Solo Pilots of Prog:

Kerry Livgren - electric, acoustic,
& bass guitars, mandolin;
keyboards; drum-programming

The Album. Originality and innovation - these are the key words for "One of the Possible Musiks", which was the first Kerry Livgren solo album after the break-up of AD. (In fact, though, it was already the third solo album by Kerry.) In my honest opinion, "One of the Possible Musiks" is the most original and innovative album among those ones that have ever been created by Solo Pilots of Symphonic Rock. Also, this album clearly shows that Kerry Livgren is not only a very talented composer and arranger, but also a really remarkable multi-instrumentalist. Stylistically, the compositions that are presented on this all-instrumental album can be divided into four parts. Then such pieces as And I Saw, As It Were Konelrad, Colonnade Gardens, Alenna In the Sun, Tannin Dance, and A Fistful of Drachma (tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 9), will form the first and the largest part. Overall, the music that is featured on all five of these compositions represents a pure Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. The arrangements that are present on them consist of diverse and, often, contrasting interplay between solos and passages of traditional Rock instruments and those virtual ones that Kerry masterfully 'elicited' from his synthesizers. In other words, variegated interplay between solos of a real piano, real electric and bass guitars, and solos and passages of synthetic yet realistically sounding chamber and string instruments are typical for all five of the said pieces. Thanks to the active use of virtual (or synthetic, if you will) chamber instruments, such as the oboe, bassoon, flute, harp, etc, a few compositions on the album, but especially As It Were Konelrad and Colonnade Gardens (2 & 3), have a distinct medieval feel to them. On Alenna In the Sun, Tannin Dance, and A Fistful of Drachma (5, 6, & 9), Kerry played such exotic instruments as the Japanese Koto and Shakahuchi (not sure that I wrote this word correctly), and also marimba, apart from the other instruments. So all three of the said compositions are just filled with the wonderful flavors of music of East. In the Sides of the North, The Far Country, and Tenth of Nisan (tracks 4, 7, & 10), will form the second 'stylistic' part of this album. The arrangements that a featured on each of these three pieces develop constantly and there aren't repeats in them. In other words, these are the pieces of Classical Academic Music that were performed with the use of Rock instruments and samplers of chamber and string instruments. In the Sides of the North, though, doesn't feature the Rock instruments at all. Here, the solos of oboe, accompanied by the lush passages of strings, recreate the spirit of medieval atmosphere as well. The Far Country could've been subtitled as "Piece For a Rock Band & Virtual Orchestra", as the parts of Rock, chamber, and string instruments are here balanced very well. Structurally (not compositionally!), Tenth of Nisan, with its march character, military drumming, fanfares, beats of kettle-drums, etc, reminds me of Mars - The Bringer of War by Gustav Holst. This is probably the most impressive composition on the album. Both the remaining stylistic parts of the album are presented on Ancient Wing (1) and Diaspora (8). Ancient Wing, which is the only 'heavy' composition on the album, features only the Rock instruments. Stylistically, it represents nothing else but a blend of Classic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal. Diaspora, in its turn, is the only track on the album, on which the parts of brass instruments dominate everywhere. A blend of Classic Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion would probably be the best definition of music that is featured here. Though it doesn't contain any of the real improvisations. Well, it's time to summarize my thoughts on this and all the previous albums by Kerry Livgren. In my view, "Prime Mover" (1988 / 1998) was his first album, all the concepts of which are truly excellent. As for this album, "One of Several Possible Musiks" is, IMHO, not only a real masterpiece, but also one of the best Symphonic Art-Rock albums that were released in the second half of the 1980s. Be sure to che

VM. June 7, 2002
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1995 - "When Things Get Electric"
(60 min, 'Numavox')
****+

Tracklist:
1. When Things Get Electric 6:09 
a) Prelude
b) When Things Get Electric 
2. Turn On the Lights 4:25
3. Two Thousand Down 4:47
4. Smoke Is Rising 4:55
5. Throw Me Down 5:04
6. One Dark World 5:20
7. No Holds Barred 4:33
8. Sweet Child 4:40
9. A Hero's Canticle 4:44
10. Racing Away 4:22
11. Like a Whisper 4:48
12. Xylon (The Three) 5:54

All music & lyrics: by Kerry Livgren.

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - electric & acoustic guitars;
synthesizers, organ, & piano; backing vocals
Craig Kew - bass guitar
Chris Kearney - drums
Darren Rogers - lead & backing vocals
Jason Beddon - lead & backing vocals

Guest musicians:

David Ragsdale - violin (on tracks 1 & 11)
Roxanne Livgren - backing vocals (on 5 & 11)

With: Choir (on several tracks)

Produced & engineered by Kerry Livgren
at "GrandyZine Recording Co, Berryton, KS.

The Album. Overall, the contents of this album mark the return to the style that was typical for the early creation of Kerry Livgren (from 1980 to 1986), though structurally, "When Things Get Electric" is one of the most motley albums in his discography. So to describe this album, I have to divide its contents into five parts. Then the first and the largest category of songs will include Turn On the Lights, Two Thousand Down, Smoke Is Rising, No Holds Barred, and A Hero's Canticle (tracks 2, 3, 4, 7, & 9). Generally speaking, Hard Rock is what all five of these songs are about. Although all the vocal parts that are featured on them are quite simple, there is, however, an excellent instrumental part in the middle of each of these songs. Also, it needs to be mentioned that on a few of them, the instrumental arrangements flow nonstop regardless whether there are the vocals. Nevertheless, on all of the said songs, there are too little of the sophisticated interplay that characterized so much of the previous Kerry Livgren album "One of Several Possible Musiks". Now, I have to note that interplay between solos of guitar and organ, all of which were performed by Kerry truly masterfully, play a prominent role in the arrangements of all the songs that are present on the album. The 'guest' violin solos by David Ragsdale are noticeable only on the album's title-track and Like a Whisper (11). Both the lead singers on "When Things Get Electric" are very good. As usual, the way of singing of one of them is not unlike that of Warren Ham of AD and, thus and so, Kansas's Steve Walsh as well. As for the work of both the 'bosses' of rhythm section, it is really strong and effective only on those tracks that are marked with the signs of diversity. By the way, it's just the time to describe these very tracks. Both the opening and closing tracks of the album, When Things Get Electric and Xylon, are excellent by all means. Racing Away and Like a Whisper (10 & 11) are close to them almost in every respect. Stylistically, these four songs present a rather original blend of Classic Symphonic Progressive and Hard Rock. Both the vocal and instrumental arrangements that are featured them are rich, diverse, and bombastic. Throw Me Down (5) is, however, the most complex and, at the same time, interesting track on the album. This is a real Symphonic Art-Rock killer, filled with various progressive 'ingredients'. In other words, Throw Me Down is the only song on the album, the contents of which completely conform to the status of masterpiece. One Dark World (6) is kind of a Classic Art-Rock ballad, - nothing more and nothing less. Finally, Sweet Child (8) is just a sugary AOR song. In my view, it should not have been included in this album, which, otherwise, I would have rated with five stars. Nevertheless, in my view, "When Things Get Electric" surpasses any of the earlier albums by Kerry Livgren except "Prime Mover" and, of course, "One of Several Possible Musiks".

VM. June 21, 2002
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1997 - "Odyssey Into Mind's Eye"
(65 min, 'Numavox')
******

Tracklist:
1. Oceanic Celebration 4:30
2. Unstoppable 3:59
3. Out of Step 4:29
4. The Traveler - 2 4:18
5. Volatile Planet 3:04
6. The Empowering - 2 3:26
7. Utopian Dreams 4:42
8. Credence Lent 7:25
9. One Dark World* 5:21
10. The Empowering 3:32
11. Aspen Moon 3:41
12. Liquidity 3:57
13. Intelligent Life 6:12
14. The Traveler 6:32

All tracks by Kerry Livgren,
except: 4 & 14 (by Mike Adams & K. Livgren), 
& 7 (by K. Livgren & D. Rogers),
& 11 (by Bellen & K. Livgren).

Note: track 9* was taken from the previous
Kerry Livgren album  "When Things Get Electric".

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - electric, acoustic,
& bass guitars; synthesizers, organ, & piano
Chris Kearney - drums & percussion

With:

Kreg Hoover - vocals & backing vocals (on 4)
Darren Rogers - vocals & backing vocals (on 9)
Jacob Livgren - vocals & backing vocals (on 11)

Produced by: Kerry Livgren.
Recorded & mixed by K. Livgren
at "GrandyZine" Recording Co.

The Album. To be honest, I did never expect to hear a really good soundtrack - at least during my 'current' life :). However, it turned out to be that Kerry Livgren's "Odyssey Into Mind's Eye" is not even an excellent soundtrack, but a real masterpiece. What a wonderful surprise! In my honest opinion, ten out of the fourteen tracks on this album are real progressive killers: 1 to 8, 13, & 14. Two of the other four tracks, 9 & 10, are excellent, at least. Finally, both of the remaining two tracks, 11 & 12, are very good. Roughly, the stylistics of this album can be defined as a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal (or progressive Hard Rock, which would probably be more precise). However, it would be hard for anyone to squeeze into the framework of this definition the following eight tracks: Oceanic Celebration, Unstoppable, Volatile Planet, The Empowering-2, Utopian Dreams, Credence Lent, Intelligent Life, and The Traveler (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, & 14). The arrangements that are featured on these are completely unpredictable. There are too few repeats (all of which, moreover, are completely insignificant) on each of these eight compositions. So stylistically, they represent Classical Music with elements of Symphonic Rock and Prog-Metal rather than a blend of these three genres. The longest of these instrumental pieces, Credence Lent, is an absolute winner. The contents of The Empowering (10) are also about Classical Music performed with the 'Rock' instruments. However, The Empowering-2, which is the alternative version of The Empowering, is undoubtedly better than the original. Quite the contrary, while the vocal version of The Traveler, The Traveler-2 (4), is by all means an excellent song of a heavy Symphonic Rock, its original instrumental version (14) is more intricate and, thus and so, interesting - at least for this reviewer. (It's probably not too late to mention that in all, the album contains only three songs.) One Dark World (9) is another excellent song. There are a few of the powerful refrains on it, but for the most part, it consists of the structures that are typical for a Classic Art-Rock ballad. Here and there, this ballad is as beautiful as Kansas's (Kerry Livgren's, in fact) unforgettable Dust In the Wind. On the whole, Out of Steps (3) is much in the vein of the eight compositions that I described at first. There are a few of the repeated themes on this composition, but all of them are essential. In my view, Out of Steps is the most impressive and bright composition that was created by Kerry Livgren during his solo career. (I didn't say "the best", though.) Also, this is the only piece on the album, the stylistics of which represents a blend of Art-Rock and Prog-Metal with elements of Jazz-Fusion. The song Aspen Moon (11) and the instrumental piece Liquidity (12) are the only tracks on the album, the compositional and performing textures of which conform to the 'laws' of Neo Progressive. Nevertheless, as I said above, both of these works are very good, original, and tasteful. The vocal talents of Jason Livgren, who sings on Aspen Moon using his real voice and an excellent falsetto, are obvious. Back to the album as a whole, I liked "Odyssey Into Mind's Eye" even more than "One of Several Possible Musiks", though until now, I regarded it as the best solo album by Kerry. And it's by no means only because of I hear the work of a real and excellent drummer on this album instead of a drum machine. Above all, "Odyssey Into Mind's Eye" shines compositionally. Also, I find it the most original and unique album in the discography of Kerry Livgren & K.L.A.D. Furthermore, it's already clear for me that the albums that Kerry composed alone (or almost alone) are way better than those with AD (except "Prime Mover", which was also penned by Kerry). Without any doubts, I consider "Odyssey Into Mind's Eye" one of the best Symphonic Rock albums of 1997 and it gets my highest recommendations. IMHO, it should please any of those who're into Classic Symphonic Rock and not only...

VM. July 12, 2002
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2000 - "Collector's Sedition"
(69 min, 'Numavox')
*****+

Tracklist:
1. Am Juengsten Toge 2:28
2. On the Air 4:44
3. The Sentinel 7:33
4. The Navigator 5:11
5. No More Time For Love 4:40
6. Song du Jour 5:39
7. Red Money 4:32
8. Handsight 6:13
9. The Man With an Iron Heart 5:11
10. As It Should Be 4:56
11. At Every Turn 3:26 
12. Safe Alone 4:52
13. Cold Grey Morning 4:45
14. The Dragon 5:42

All tracks by Kerry Livgren,
except: 6 - by K. & J. Livgren, 
& 14 - by Adams, K. Livgren.

Line-up:

Kerry Livgren - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars;
keyboards
Yetsper Danteetsper - drums & percussion
Jake Livgren - vocals
(on all songs, except 2, 7, 9, 13, & 14)

Guest vocalists: 

Kreg Hoover (on 9 & 13) 
Don & Sam Billen (2)
Darren Rogers (7)
Jason Beddoe (14)

Recorded, mixed, & produced
by Kerry Livgren at "GrandyZine 
Recording Co.", Berryton, KS.

The Album. While before I really liked only both of the instrumental-based albums by Kerry, "One of Several Possible Musiks" and "Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye", "Collector's Sedition" has become the only vocal-based album by him that I really like as well. I would rate it as an absolute masterpiece, as well as both of the aforementioned albums, if only Red Money and Safe Alone (tracks 7 & 12), both of which are just merely good Hard Rock songs, would not have been included here. Above all, it's because of all the other compositions that are presented on "Collector's Sedition" are definitely progressive. (So, I will listen to the 60-minute 'version' of this 70-minute album.) As well as the solo creation of Kerry Livgren in general, stylistically, "Collector Sedition" is quite a motley album. Though of course, the choice of stylistics can never hinder a true artist from creating a masterpiece, regardless of whether a chosen stylistics would be of a unified or miscellaneous character. The presence of rather dark arrangements on a few of the tracks here, along with Jake's dramatic singing, is probably the only major difference between this and all of the other vocal-based albums by Kerry Livgren. Song du Jour and The Man With an Iron Heart (tracks 6 & 9) are excellent songs. The music that is featured on both of them represents an original and effective blend of Classic Hard- and Art-Rock. While all ten of the remaining tracks on the album (1 to 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, & 14) are, in my honest opinion, real masterworks. The Navigator (4) is an outstanding Classic Art-Rock ballad, which, in some ways, reminds me of a really undying Dust In the Wind. (By the way, the lyrical concept of the everlasting flight of that Dust In the Wind is close to my Weltanschauung, though officially, I am an Orthodox Christian.) On The Navigator however, the passages of acoustic guitar interplay with solos of bass guitar and, closer to the end of the song, with the fluid solos of electric guitar. Here, Jake Livgren's singing has a slight folksy feel to it. In my view, Jake is undoubtedly the best vocalist on this album. I really like his voice and his way of singing, both of which are original, unlike those of most (if not all) of the other Kerry Livgren / AD vocalists. At Every Turn (11) is another Classic Art-Rock ballad on the album, though it is of a different character than that which I depicted previously. At Every Turn contains also elements of Classical Music. The arrangements here consist of diverse and, at the same time, beautiful interplay between the violin-like passages of synthesizer and those of acoustic guitar. Also, apart from Jake's lead vocals, it features a female choir. This is one of the two tracks on the album that were performed without the rhythm section. No More Time For Love and Cold Grey Morning (5 & 13) are both about Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with a healthy dose of elements of a strong, diverse, and progressive Hard Rock. The kaleidoscopic changes of musical dimensions are hallmarks of both of these songs. Apart from the solos and riffs of electric and bass guitars, solos and passages of synthesizers, Hammond organ, and piano, and the parts of drums, all of which are present almost everywhere on the album, the first of them features also the solos of harmonica. The following five compositions: Am Juengsten Toge, On the Air, Handsight, As It Should Be, and The Dragon (1, 2, 8, 10, & 14), are brilliant by all means. Structurally, one of the two instrumental pieces on the album, As It Should Be (10), is in many ways close to tracks 5 & 13, depicted above, though the arrangements are here certainly more diverse than those on No More Time For Love and Cold Grey Morning. Furthermore, this piece contains, in addition, elements of Classical Music created with the fanfare-, brass-, and vibraphone-like solos of synthesizers. Also, a few of the flute-like solos and those of acoustic guitar are here in the vein of the music of East. Another instrumental piece, Am Juengsten Toge (1), is about a pure Classical Music. It consists of continuously listening to Jake's singing here, I had the impression that I was hearing some wandering minstrel-knight. The Sentinel is a Progressive Rock pearl of rare originality.

Summary. Well, all the albums by Kerry Livgren (of course, not counting remakes, compilations, and live albums) are finally reviewed on these pages. A great man, a great composer and musician, and a great creation, indeed. (Apart from interviewing Kerry, I also read his book titled "Seeds of Change" - same as his first solo album.) The contribution that Kerry made to the Progressive Rock movement (counting his work with Kansas, of course) is really invaluable. Many of his songs are real classics for the future, though some of them, such as still the same Dust In the Wind, became a classic immediately after they were released. However, I regret that Kerry quit Kansas once again. In my honest opinion, he should never forget the band that his best works were created within the precincts of (whatever one may say). By the way, most of the best ten compositions of "Collector's Sedition" have episodes that remind me of Kansas both vocally and instrumentally. Taken together, these songs last about 50 minutes. If Kerry would have released them along with his old friends and band-mates (as it was in the case of "Somewhere To Elsewhere"), I would've been a bit happier.

VM. September 20, 2002
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Related Links:

Kerry Livgren web-site & online store: http://www.numavox.com/


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