Burn Tested..........: Yes
Album................: The Best of Kansas
Genre................: Classic Rock
Number of Songs......: 10
Audio Format.........: Windows Media
Source...............: Other (Specify) DL'd
Kansas is an American progressive rock band which became a popular arena rock group in the 1970s, with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind". They have remained a classic rock radio staple and a popular touring act in North America and Europe.
The debut album, Kansas (#174), which was released in March 1974, showcased Kansas' signature mix of guitars, keyboards, vocals, and Steinhardt's violin style, which merged American-style boogie-rock with complex, symphonic arrangements and changing time signatures. Their sound bore the marks of late-1960s, early 1970s progressive rock, such as Genesis and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Promotion by Kirshner and touring behind the debut album and its two follow ups, Song for America (#57) and Masque (#70), increased awareness of Kansas.
On the strength of their 1977 hit single "Carry On Wayward Son" (#11) the band's fourth album, Leftoverture (#5), released in October 1976, on which Steinhardt added viola and Walsh added vibraphone to their work, was a hit which garnered a lot of airplay on the burgeoning AOR radio format. The follow up Point of Know Return (#4), released in October 1977, featured the title track (#28) and "Dust in the Wind" (#6), both hit singles.
Both albums had unique album covers, with Leftoverture featuring a DaVinci-like old man on the cover, and Point of Know Return depicting a ship teetering over the edge of the world. Both albums have sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone. Both "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind" were certified Gold singles, selling over one million units each.
During this period, Kansas became a major headlining act for several years, selling out the largest venues available to rock bands at the time (e.g., New York City's Madison Square Garden). The band documented this era with its first live recording, 1978's double live album Two For The Show, a snapshot of various performances from the 1977 and 1978 tours supporting Point Of Know Return.
Kansas self-produced their follow-up to Point Of Know Return. The 1979 album Monolith (#10) featured lyrics influenced by The Urantia Book and Native American themes. "Kansas" itself is a toponym derived from the Kansa tribe, whose name is widely believed to mean "People of the South Wind." The starkly expressive album cover depicts Plains Indians in traditional dress and space suit helmets living in a settlement under the ruins of highway overpasses. While the album produced a Top 40 single in "People of the South Wind" (#23), both the band and the label were disappointed in Monolith's failure to produce sales or radio airplay close to its two predecessors. Nevertheless, the album went Platinum and the Platinum record hangs in the Kansas State Historical Society.
With classic rock continuing to be a strong genre of music, Kansas's influence has continued to inspire bands. "Carry On Wayward Son" has been covered by bands such as Rachel Rachel, Critical Mass, Dream Theater, The Showdown, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and even country superstars The Oak Ridge Boys. The song has appeared on album soundtracks for the movies Heroes and Anchorman, and being played during a scene in the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore. (where it is featured as the ending credits song). "Carry On Wayward Son" is also featured in Guitar Hero II and Rock Band 2. Most recently the song was featured in an episode of the popular animated TV series South Park. It has also been played on the hit tv series Supernatural (TV series). Kansas is mentioned as one of Dean Winchester's favorites; as well as a "major influence" in the liner notes of an early album of the top-selling Country artist of all time, Garth Brooks.
Progressive metal band Vanden Plas has covered Kansas, making a somewhat heavier cover of "Point of Know Return." The band's biggest single, "Dust in the Wind," was used in a Subaru commercial, and in the film Old School. It was also prominently featured in several episodes of the television series Highlander, and was referenced in the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
The single was certified Gold as a digital download by the RIAA in 2005, almost 30 years after it sold 1 million copies as a single. "Dust in the Wind" has been covered by Sarah Brightman, the German rock band Scorpions (during their 2001 acoustic album Acoustica), Christian artists Billy Smiley and Acappella and by former New York Yankees center fielder and aspiring jazz guitarist Bernie Williams on his 2004 debut album The Journey Within. In 2006, ex-Kansas lead singer John Elefante also covered "Dust in the Wind" as a single.