“Leftoverture” by Kansas: Still A Classic Today
Many years and musicians have passed since the ’70s. The era of classic rock will be remembered as a revolutionary time in music and one band stands out among the rest as one of my favorites.
There is an expression that says, “It’s an oldie but a goodie.”
This phrase can be used to describe many different things: cars, clothing, movies, but most of all, music.
When I was 13 years old, my dad gave me my first taste of classic rock.
I put the REO Speedwagon: Greatest Hits CD in my stereo and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of music.
Ever since then, I’ve passed up Miley Cyrus and Pharrell in favor of Journey, AC/DC and ZZ Top.
However, my favorite of all time is Kansas.
In 1969, four guys from Topeka, Kan. came together to form, in my opinion, one of the best bands of that time.
Over the next several years, the band members were interchangeable as they found their sound and their place in the music business, but in 1976 Kansas found themselves in the industry with a phenomenal album.
“Leftoverture” was released in October of 1976 and ended up being one of the most popular and memorable albums the band released.
The album begins with the still-popular, “Carry On Wayward Son.”
This song kicks off the album with some killer harmony and profound lyrics.
“Carry on my wayward son. There’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more.”
This track blends skillful guitar solos with flawless piano runs in the background and has deep meaning for those who truly listen to the words.
It has stood the test of time with many listeners and is even played during the intro of every season finale on the hit television series, “Supernatural.”
In 1977, the song peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their first Top 40 hit.
The rest of the songs on this album follow suit with their sound quality and musicianship.
“The Wall” hits the listener with weighty lyrics and an eerie harpsichord melody.
The third track on the album, “What’s on My Mind” is a more mainstream, pop sound than Kansas is known for, and some say that it is the weakest song on the album. I think that may be true, but it’s still a wonderful song that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Miracles out of Nowhere” is a great rainy-day track as the acoustic guitar played during the verses makes a very relaxing melody with rich instrumentation.
The second half of the album starts out with “Opus Insert,” a brilliant piece of music that can only be described as entertaining, baffling and majestic with interesting musical tones and lyrics that are very insightful.
“Questions of My Childhood” is more upbeat and poses more philosophical questions about childhood and the impossibility of finding all the answers while growing up.
“Cheyenne Anthem” is a folksy tune and some even think its lyrics are laden with religious undertones.
The album concludes with “Magnum Opus” a song that could nearly be classified as an instrumental piece, except for a couple lyrics in the middle. It is more exotic sounding for a full 8 ½ minutes and includes some tribal-like drumming.
All of the songs by Kansas are filled with reflective lyrics that make the listener really think about life.
Most of their melodies are whimsical and unusual by today’s standards.
I believe this is what kept Kansas’ music thriving throughout the years.
A year later, Kansas cut the album “Point of Know Return” and continued their success.
While some musicians today do know how to create thought-provoking lyrics and intricate melodies, I believe the classic rock era carried the torch in those aspects.
Kansas will always be one of my favorite bands and all the rest are just “Dust in the Wind.