Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kansas - Drastic Measures

Following their 1982 album Vinyl Confessions (click here for that review), Kansas returned to the studios to work on their ninth album. Drastic Measures, released in July of 1983, peaked at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

The band went through changes prior to this album. Violinist Robby Steinhardt left at the end of the 1982 tour, and John Elefante stepped up as the new lead singer and composer of two-thirds of the tracks as well.

Side one begins with “Fight Fire with Fire”. As the first single, it reached number 58 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 3 on the Mainstream Rock charts. I have always liked the guitar/percussion opening rhythm which is soon joined by the synthesizers; it instantly begs you to turn up the volume.

The second single, “Everybody’s My Friend”, charted at number 34 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. Its lyrics reflect upon how people try to latch themselves on to someone who has achieved some success or fame.

“Mainstream”, one of only three tracks written by Kerry Livgren, is a criticism of both the music industry at the time and the new direction that the band had been taking during the early 80’s. The six-and-a-half minute length gives the guys room to really rock out on this one, including an extended instrumental interlude halfway through.

“Andi” tells of a lonely pre-teen girl who is longing for the day to reach puberty and to become a young woman. The opening music mirrors growing up, by starting with a whimsical innocence theme before building upon it with more complex layers.

Side two opens with “Going Through the Motions”, a song about being stuck in the daily grind and not doing something more fulfilling and meaningful in your life.

“Get Rich” gives a little history lesson about expansion in the name of wealth and riches. It warned modern leaders not to fall into the same historical traps. This song very much fits the 80’s for it was a time when so many people were focusing on money (making it and spending it).

The message of “Don’t Take Your Love Away” is a simple one: material things do not matter for it is love that truly feeds our souls and our lives. I like how starts out one way musically and then does a complete three-sixty. It is easily my favorite of the non-single tracks on the album.

“End of the Age” was selected as the B-side for the second single. With its more overt Christian theme, it focuses on the Day of Judgment.

The closing track “Incident on a Bridge”, a song that underscores the notion that everything happens for a reason, was also the B-side to the first single.

Except for the singles, I really had not heard too much of Drastic Measures prior to doing this review. I definitely was a Kansas fan from the 70's and found this one enjoyable to listen to as well. Due to differences, the band took a few years apart after this album. That could account for the lack of major promotion for the record. Still, better late than never to discover a good rock record.

No comments: