|The Ultimate Kansas|
|Compilation produced by Jeff Glixman and Jeff Magid|
|Released on July 2, 2002|
|no chart information|
|Find it at GEMM|
|E2K 86452 cover
[high resolution scan]
K ansas will ultimately be remembered for two albums: Leftoverture and Point of Know Return. That pair constitutes nearly half of The Ultimate Kansas, allowing classic album tracks like “Cheyenne Anthem,” “The Wall” and “Closet Chronicles” to take their rightful place alongside the band’s popular works. The rest of this double-disc compilation follows the story from their eponymous, adventurous debut through to the early Elefante albums (Vinyl Confessions, Drastic Measures). As Kansas fans know, the story didn’t end there; licensing issues with MCA may have been the cause for the missing chapters, since a track each from Power and Spirit seems warranted. Fortunately for us, the oversight allows The Ultimate Kansas to linger on the band’s interesting early albums (Kansas, Song for America, Masques) and respectable, post-platinum product (Monolith, Audio-Visions). Hearing these songs out of their original context and in full digital splendor has again shed new light on old wonders. I began to catalog an imaginary list of songs that had been originally wronged as clumsy or derivative: “Child of Innocence,” “The Pinnacle,” “Song for America,” “Sparks of the Tempest.” The Ultimate Kansas makes a compelling case for Kansas as the greatest American prog band from that original era. (I’d give them the nod over Styx most days.) Surely if we’re to heap praises at the feet of Fly By Night and Styx II, we need to accord the same honors to Song For America and Masques. Given the dearth of truly top-rate prog (relative to my insatiable demand for it), the early career of Kansas deserves a pedestal of its own. However, even I might pile it no higher than Point, leaving Monolith and later in boxes lest their inferior inspiration obscure the true craftsmanship of Kansas. Releasing “Fight Fire With Fire” in such rarefied air proves particularly problematic. That jarring moment aside, The Ultimate Kansas does a respectable job of picking and choosing, noting that I always stumble over the hard rock entries (“Lonely Street,” “Down The Road”). The packaging is regrettably light (despite a promotional sticker’s exhortation otherwise), though the trifold tray is an interesting solution to a perennial problem. In 2008, the Legacy label added a third disc to Ultimate and re-released it as The Essential Kansas, essentially presenting all of Leftoverture and Point in piecemeal across three discs.
|E2K 86452 gatefold sleeve|
Phil Ehart -- watchful eye
John Jackson -- project direction
Howard Fritzson -- art direction
Ron Kellum/Kellum McClain Inc. -- design
Andy Lackow -- front cover illustration
Don Hunstein -- photography
Mark Unterberger -- packaging manager
return to KANSAS discography
|REGION||RELEASE DATE||LABEL||MEDIA||ID NUMBER||FEATURES|
|US||July 2, 2002||Epic/Legacy||2CD||E2K 86452|
|US||August 26, 2008||Sony/Legacy||3CD||28951||repackaged as THE ESSENTIAL KANSAS:
LIMITED EDITION 3.0
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