Kansas

Somewhere to Elsewhere

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Kansas' 2000 album Somewhere to Elsewhere is notable because it's the first recording by the original six members in almost 20 years. Joining vocalist Steve Walsh, guitarist Richard Williams, vocalist/violinist Robby Steinhardt, longtime bassist Billy Greer, and drummer Phil Ehart are original guitarist/keyboardist Kerry Livgren and original bassist Dave Hope. Livgren wrote all ten songs. Somewhere to Elsewhere features the innovative dynamics, and long songs, of Kansas' early work while maintaining a crisply modern production sound. "Icarus II" is a marvelously intricate epic about bomber pilots; the bright piano and violin lines give way to blistering heavy metal guitar symbolizing a bombing attack. "When the World Was Young" is a groovy rocker with Walsh contributing a broad range of vocal tones. The richly moving "The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)" alternates between subdued and bombastic passages with Steinhardt's violin leading the way. The complex, nine-minute "Myriad" is arguably the most "progressive rock" moment on the album. Greer gets his first ever Kansas lead vocal on the easygoing "Look at the Time." Steinhardt sings on "Disappearing Skin Tight Blues," an unusual song with clever but uncharacteristic rhyming lyrics and '50s-like vocal group harmonies. "Distant Vision," another nine-minute piece, features Livgren's trademark: spiritual lyrics. "Not Man Big" has an oddly powerful, loose tempo and bitter lyrics about human folly. A short, goofy singalong acoustic studio jam is included as a hidden bonus track. Technology directly affected the recording of Somewhere to Elsewhere in a rather unsettling way. Walsh wasn't in the studio with the rest of the band. He was also working on a solo album at the time so he burned his vocals on CDs and traded them back and forth with Livgren. Portions of the album's profits will be donated to the World War II Memorial Fund.

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