Vinyl Confessions

Kansas

Epic/Legacy, 1982

http://www.kansasband.com

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/14/2008

Today on Daily Vault One-Word Reviews: Kansas’ 1982 release Vinyl Confessions.  Ahem. Our one word:

Enh.

Okay, so that’s technically an ejaculation, not a word. But it summarizes the first post-Steve Walsh CD for Kansas neatly. While there are occasional moments worth taking notice of on VC, the fact remains that this is mostly an olive-drab pile of mediocrity with some serious handicaps from the get-go.

Handicap #1: no Steve Walsh. There are a number of theories as to why the split developed between vocalist Steve Walsh and composer/songwriter/arranger Kerry Livgren, and I suspect no one really knows why, save them. The fact remains, however, that Walsh had left in October of 1981 to form a short-lived rock band Streets, and Livgren had replaced him as lead singer with fellow born-again Christian John Elefante. Matters of faith aside, Elefante just wasn’t the singer or the songwriter Walsh was. (He has, interestingly enough, become an extremely successful CCM producer.) The songs are weaker, the delivery weaker, and because of that, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Vinyl Confessions suffers.

Handicap #2: The production. Ken Scott manned the board on VC, and frankly, if this is representative of his work he shouldn’t be allowed to produce a random biological function, much less a CD. The sound on the album is as flat and fuzzy as a roadkilled Tribble. Vinyl Confessions was remastered in a 1996 release, but I don’t have that copy (and indeed, it seems to be extremely hard to find). As it stands, though -- awful. Dull as ditchwater. This hammers the stake into tracks like “Diamonds And Pearls” and “Face It,” which might under different circumstances been decent.

Handicap #3 (and this is where I stick my neck out): Religion. It’s no mistake that CCM Magazine chose VC as its #1 CCM album of 1982. Take the Kansas name off and this might not be a problem -- but like many CCM artists, the heaviness of the message undermines its very content and possible appeal. There is a difference between being witnessed to and being preached at -- and this is definitely an ‘at’ album. This left little space for long-time Kansas fans -- and it’s no mistake that this is Kansas’ worst-selling CD of their widespread popularity phase.

There are good songs on Vinyl Confessions. For once, the best song was the biggest hit: “Play The Game Tonight” remains a powerful, string-driven tribute to getting what you want and then finding out it may not be worth it. “Chasing Shadows” is delicate and haunting, and for all its “Left Behind” overtones, “Fair Exchange” boogies along quite nicely.

But in the end, the game really isn’t worth the candle. Vinyl Confessions was a huge step backwards for Kansas, an interruption of forward motion that wouldn’t really change until much later in the decade.

Rating: C-

User Rating: C


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© 2008 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.