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Monolith

4.3 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 4, 2008
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 4, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: February 4, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SBME SPECIAL MKTS.
  • Run Time: 41 minutes
  • ASIN: B0012GMYKU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,605 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
After the unexpected commercial success of 1977's Point of Know Return, Kansas was faced with the daunting task of following up their hit album. A fine live effort in Two For the Show bridged the gap to Monolith, #6 in what I like to call the "Lucky Seven" (seven consecutive quality albums in a row). This self-produced effort, however, is a portent of major change & eventual schism. A collection of eight 4-6 minute tracks, Monolith's rich packaging suggests a concept album, but the Native American theme so intriguingly presented on the cover is merely hinted at in the lyrics to just one song. This seemingly aborted concept, along with the exclusion of Kerry Livgren's mini-epic "No One Together" from the final LP (shelved for later inclusion on Audio Visions), and the lack of musical cohesion suggests that Monolith was an ambitious project that never came to fruition. Monolith and it's 1980 successor offer Kansas at it's most bi-polar: Livgren's full emergence as a born again Christian contrasted with Steve Walsh's more primal leanings into decidedly secular, straight-ahead rock. However, the mix makes for some fine moments: Livgren's oddly cryptic balladry of "The Other Side," the quality synth-pop of "People of the South Wind," Walsh's beautifully psychotic masterpiece, "Angels Have Fallen," and the blistering hard rock bloozer, "Stay Out of Trouble." The "Icarus" riff is resurrected amongst the ambitious prog of Livgren's "A Glimpse of Home," while Walsh's "Away From You" serves up some hook-laden, harmony infused prog/pop that Mozart would've loved if he were alive 20 years ago.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Like a lot of progressive rock bands in the late 1970's there was pressure to adopt mainstream styles and Kansas was certainly not immune to this. Although the epic prog works of the 1974-1975 timeframe were well behind them, Kansas still managed to forge onwards with a good album that exhibited well-thought out compositions and a high standard of playing. Clearly, although the times were changing, Monolith (1979) is certainly more musically interesting than albums that were being released by the English prog giants at the time and even the sci-fi/fantasy influenced cover art suggested that the band may not have been willing to completely let go of the proggier material. Well, let us just say that they loosened their grip a bit on Monolith.

The lineup included Phil Ehart (drums, percussion); Dave Hope (electric bass guitar, Autogyro); Kerry Livgren (electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizers); Robby Steinhardt (lead vocals, viola, violin); Steve Walsh (lead vocals, synthesizers, organ, and piano); and Rich Williams (acoustic & electric guitars). The guys all turned in the typical high level of musicianship, although the keyboards seemed buried in the mix on this album - especially in contrast with albums like Song for America (1975) and the excellent Leftoverture (1976). As usual, Phil and Dave blast away and do a great job.

On Monolith, although the general sound is still that of the trademark progressive hard rock sound that characterized their output, the proggier aspects of the typical Kansas composition had been pushed to the background somewhat and more mainstream styles (e.g. disco) started to turn up here and there - the "breezy" tune People of the South Wind is a good example of this tendency.
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If you compare this with their previous studio effort "Point Of Know Return", this one isn't nearly as good, but if you let this album stand alone on it's own this is a very good album. Some people wanted to hear a Point of know return part two, but I think they wanted too put out something different this time around. I just love the first track "On the other side", but I think it would sound better if it were remastered. Equally as good is "People of the Southwind", which is one of the great classic rock songs. "Glimpse of home" and "Away from you" are the other two songs that really stand out. I think that "Stay out of trouble" is an alright tune, but could you imagine that song fitting on the album "Point of know return". It would stick out like a sore thumb. It's not the kind of song that I like to hear from this great American progressive band. The final track "Reason to be" is a nice close to the album, but it's one of my least favorite KANSAS songs. I think when this album was being written Kerry Livgren was a new Christian and it show's in a handful of his compositions on this album. I know a few people have downgraded this album a bit but pay no attention, this is fine recording that I think that most people would enjoy. God Bless!!!!
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Format: Audio CD
I believe that Kansas hit their commercial and artistic stride with three albums: "Leftoverture", "Point of Know Return", and this one. As other reviewers have noted, "Monolith" is somewhat uneven and not as good as the other two albums in what I refer to as "The Kansas Trilogy"; nevertheless, it is still a good LP with several enjoyable tracks, particularly "On the Other Side", "People of the South Wind" (a personal favorite of my wife), and "A Glimpse of Home".
Please ignore the rather stupid remarks of one previous reviewer who said that this album would appeal only to dedicated "can hear no wrong" fans. Although I'm a fan of Kansas, I'm also objective enough to dismiss Kansas albums that I thought were less than satisfactory (for example, "Audio-Visions" and "Power", both of which I believe to be no longer available).
If you have heard "Leftoverture" and "Point of Know Return", you'll probably like "Monolith", but to a slightly lesser degree.
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