My Favorite Albums – Leftoverture – Kansas

Once I rose above the noise and confusion, Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion, I was soaring ever higher, But I flew too high

Leftoverture is the fourth studio album by the American rock band Kansas, released on October 1976. It is widely regarded as their breakthrough album and remains one of their most successful and iconic works. The album features a fusion of progressive rock, art rock, and hard rock elements, showcasing the band’s instrumental virtuosity and intricate compositions.

“Carry On Wayward Son”: This track is undoubtedly the most recognizable and enduring song from the album. It became a massive hit for Kansas, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single version is edited to 3:26. Its memorable guitar riffs, catchy melody, and epic arrangement have made it an iconic rock anthem. The b-side is one of my all-time favorites “Questions of My Childhood”.

Leftoverture, on Kirshner Records in the US (34224), explores various conceptual themes throughout its tracks. The album touches on existential introspection, journeys, philosophical questions, and musings. Kansas’ musicianship is showcased throughout the album, with complex instrumental arrangements and virtuosic performances. Songs like “The Wall,” “Miracles Out of Nowhere,” and “Cheyenne Anthem” feature complex arrangements, shifting time signatures, and dynamic instrumentation.

Track Listing
Side one
  1. “Carry On Wayward Son” (Kerry Livgren) – 5:23
  2. “The Wall” (Steve Walsh, Kerry Livgren) – 4:51
  3. “What’s on My Mind” (Kerry Livgren, Steve Walsh) – 3:28
  4. “Miracles Out of Nowhere” (Kerry Livgren) – 6:28
Side two
  1. “Opus Insert” (Kerry Livgren) – 4:30
  2. “Questions of My Childhood” (Kerry Livgren, Steve Walsh) – 3:40
  3. “Cheyenne Anthem” (Kerry Livgren) – 6:55
  4. “Magnus Opus”
    • “Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat” (Livgren) – 0:00-2:43
      This opening section begins with a soft keyboard intro and gradually builds with the addition of drums, bass, and guitar. It features intricate instrumental interplay and showcases Livgren’s compositional skills.
    • “Howling at the Moon” (Hope, Livgren, Walsh) – 2:44-3:47
      This section features a more upbeat and energetic musical passage. Walsh’s vocals come in with passionate lyrics, accompanied by driving guitar riffs and powerful drumming.
    • “Man Overboard” (Hope, Walsh) – 3:48-6:22
      In this section, the tempo slows down, and the mood becomes more introspective. Walsh delivers introspective and emotive vocals, while Livgren’s keyboard and guitar work create a melodic atmosphere.
    • “Industry on Parade” (Hope, Walsh) – 6:23-7:36
      This part has a dynamic shift, transitioning to a more lively and upbeat section. It features energetic keyboard and guitar solos, showcasing the technical prowess of Livgren and Walsh.
    • “Release the Beavers” (Hope, Livgren, Walsh) – 7:37-8:25
      The final section of “Magnum Opus” serves as a climactic conclusion to the song. It features a frenetic instrumental passage with intricate guitar and keyboard interplay, building up to an intense and powerful finale.
    • “Gnat Attack” (Livgren, Walsh) – 8:25-8:33
    • This is a brief instrumental section that follows the main body of “Magnum Opus” and serves as a closing coda. It features a lively and fast-paced musical passage, showcasing the band’s instrumental prowess and providing a final energetic flourish to the song before its conclusion.

The band’s intricate interplay between guitar, synthesizers (Kerry Livgren), violin (Robbie Steinhardt), guitar (Rich Williams) and vocals, piano (Steve Walsh) sets them apart from many of their contemporaries. The compositions are characterized by shifting time signatures, dynamic contrasts, and meticulous attention to detail.

  • Steve Walsh – organ, piano, additional synthesizers, vibraphone, lead, and backing vocals
  • Kerry Livgren – electric guitar, piano, clavinet, Moog, Oberheim, and ARP synthesizers
  • Robby Steinhardt – violin, viola, lead vocals on “Miracles Out of Nowhere” and “Cheyenne Anthem”, backing vocals
  • Rich Williams – electric and acoustic guitars
  • Dave Hope – bass guitar
  • Phil Ehart – drums, percussion
  • Toye LaRocca, Cheryl Norman – children’s voices on “Cheyenne Anthem”
  • Jeff Glixman – producer, assistant engineer, remastered edition producer
  • Bill Evans – engineer
  • Edwin Hobgood, Ray Black – additional studio assistance
  • George Marino – mastering at Sterling Sound, New York City, New York
  • Jeff Magid – remastered edition producer

The second single released was “What’s on My Mind/Lonely Street” another rocker, released in May 1977. “Lonely Street” is a great song from their second studio album Song for America written by Steve Walsh, Dave Hope, Rich Williams, and Phil Ehart.

The cover artwork for Leftoverture features a classical-style oil painting depicting a mystical landscape. Artist Peter Lloyd created it and includes elements representing the album’s themes and songs. Leftoverture was a commercial breakthrough for Kansas, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. It has been certified quadruple platinum in the United States and has sold millions of copies worldwide. The album’s success was driven by the popularity of “Carry On Wayward Son” and received widespread critical acclaim.

This album solidified Kansas’ reputation as one of the leading progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Its success propelled the band to international fame and opened doors for subsequent albums like “Point of Know Return.” The album’s songs remain staples of classic rock radio and are beloved by progressive and hard rock fans alike.

In summary, Leftoverture is a landmark album by Kansas, showcasing their distinctive blend of progressive, art, and hard rock. With its memorable tracks and complex musical arrangements, the album established the band as a major force in the rock music landscape of the 1970s and remains a beloved classic to this day.

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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