Kansas – Leftoverture

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  • Just the second Triple Triple (A+++) Shootout Winning copy to hit the site since 2011 – this copy is a KNOCKOUT
  • Both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) with real Prog Rock Energy and a huge punchy bottom end
  • Carry On My Wayward Son on this Triple Plus side one is guaranteed to blow your mind – the spaciousness and the amount of bass on this side are off the charts
  • “Undoubtedly their finest album, Leftoverture warrants Kansas a spot right alongside Boston and Styx as one of the fresh new American bands who combine hard-driving group instrumentation with short, tight melody lines…” Rolling Stone

Clearly Kansas’s most consistent and engaging album, their true masterpiece by our lights, a copy as good as this will show you the awesome ENERGY the band brought to their music.

On the hottest of our Hot Stampers the recording is a glorious example of the Big Rock Sound we love here at Better Records. Wall to wall and floor to ceiling barely begins to do it justice. Like so many of the great rock recordings we offer, when you play one of our Hot Stampers the sound commands your attention.

What do the best Hot Stampers pressings give you?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Most copies, like so many rock records from the era, are veiled and smeary. Often they lack extension at one or both ends of the frequency spectrum, usually up top, which results in harshness and shrillness — not the sound you want on a Kansas record!

Another tough test: the vocals on the first track. They can sound strained right from the get go. In fact it’s the rare copy that doesn’t show some strain on those first four lines. Sometimes the sound is so strained it’s game over after the first thirty seconds. Who can listen to that kind of sound? Hot Stampers are all about finding the copies that don’t have that problem, along with a host of others.

The higher the grade, the fewer the sonic problems.

Watch Yer Guitars

The better copies get rid of a problem that quickly becomes irritating as you play track after track: a certain squawky, pinched sound to the guitars. Bad copies of the album have that sound through and through, along with excessive amounts of grain and grunge. The guitars are very prominent in the mix on practically every song here, so when the guitars sound sour, the track as a whole does too.

The mastering and pressing problems of the average copy make the overall sound unmusical. The way we found that out was simple enough — we cleaned and played lots of copies, and every once in a while we heard one that allowed the music to breathe, open up, sound balanced, make sense and become much more enjoyable.

Those copies showed us a Leftoverture we had never heard and gave us a goal to shoot for with all the other copies we played.

Size = Power

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Carry On Wayward Son
The Wall
What’s on My Mind
Miracles Out of Nowhere

Side Two

Opus Insert
Questions of My Childhood
Cheyenne Anthem
Magnum Opus: Father Padilla Meets the Perfect Gnat, etc.

Rolling Stone Rave Review

Undoubtedly their finest album, Leftoverture warrants Kansas a spot right alongside Boston and Styx as one of the fresh new American bands who combine hard-driving group instrumentation (with a dearth of flashy solos) with short, tight melody lines and pleasant singing. Each song on side one of Leftoverture is strong, especially the opener, “Carry On Wayward Son,” which is blessed with a tough melody line and strong vocals by Steve Walsh.