KANSAS – Masque [Japan Blu-spec CD remastered +2] HQ

KANSAS - Masque [Japan Blu-spec CD remastered +2] HQ full

We started posting KANSAS early albums as these are essential to understand how this great band and overall contemporary Rock music has evolved over its history. And how better than this Japanese reissue cardboard sleeve series pressed on high quality Blu-spec CD format, fully remastered and including bonus tracks.
Early KANSAS albums needed a proper remastering to update / clean the sound but also preserve the original harmonics and analog tapes warm nature. These Blu-spec CD are amazing, believe me.
Third effort ”Masque”, their second album of 1975 (yes, two albums the same year!) found Kansas stumbling upon their identity in real time, building from featherweight rockers to majestic instrumental progressive workouts. The sextet would seamlessly bridge those two paths by 1976’s ‘Leftoverture’, but ”Masque” laid a crucial foundation.

Kansas recorded the LP with producer Jeff Glixman, relocating from the urban distractions of Los Angeles to the solitude of Louisiana’s Studio in the Country. “From a production standpoint that was probably the greatest decision, or event, that happened for the band Kansas,” Glixman told Classic Rock Revisited. “It was immensely important for the development of the band, the music and me […] We were the single most important thing that was happening there. More importantly, it allowed us to maintain our ‘us against the world’ attitude. Everyone was much more focused.”

Much of the material was fleshed out during a six-week rehearsal period before hitting the studio (a surprising brevity, given the density of the LP’s second half). That between-tour rush even extended to the album’s brooding artwork and design, which originated from crunch-time decision-making.
And the band faced added pressure from label head/publisher Don Kirshner, who’d been on them to churn out a hit. He wasn’t gifted with a smash single, despite opener “It Takes a Woman’s Love (To Make a Man)” being a catchy organ-soaked boogie-rock, and “Two Cents Worth” is a pleasant funk rocker with its wah-wah keyboards and congas.

But ”Masque” builds momentum the longer it plays, with guitarist-keyboardist Livgren dominating several expansive tunes on side two – including the metallic, doomy attack of “Child of Innocence” and the classical-rock barrage of closer “The Pinnacle.”
The epic centerpiece “Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel,” is defined by the dizzying interplay of Robby Steinhardt’s violin, Dave Hope’s Chris Squire-esque bass and Livgren’s sci-fi synths. For Glixman, the track marked a new chapter in the band’s development.
“The prototype for what was to come was on ”Masque”, and that was the song ‘Icarus: Borne on Wings of Steel,'” the producer said. “Kerry took one of his great adventure songs and got the rock element in, too. The song goes through the band filter and comes out with all the ‘rock’ and all the ‘art’ in a concise easily accessible package. That song delivers in five and half, or six, minutes what Kerry had been taking forever to deliver in previous songs.”

Kansas finally earned their international breakthrough with the following year’s ”Leftoverture”, delighting Kirshner with the FM radio staple “Carry On Wayward Son.”
However, ”Masque” is a fan favorite for many, especially the most complex songs on the album, which, by the way, sounds amazing in this remaster on Blu-spec CD.
Highly Recommended



01 – It Takes A Women’s Love (To Make A Man)
02 – Two Cents Worth
03 – Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel)
04 – All The World
05 – Child Of Innocence
06 – It’s You
07 – Mysteries And Mayhem
08 – The Pinnacle
09 – Child Of Innocence (Rehearsal Recording)
10 – It’s You (Demo Early Version)

Steve Walsh – vocals, organ, piano, clavinet, Moog
Kerry Livgren – guitars, piano, clavinet, Moog and ARP synths
Robby Steinhardt – violin, lead and backing vocals
Rich Williams – guitars
Dave Hope – bass
Phil Ehart – drums, percussion


Out of print

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