The Prelude Implicit
The Prelude Implicit, the 15th studio album by Kansas, is a first in many ways. It is the first studio album from the band since vocalist and keyboardist Steve Walsh retired in 2014. This, in turn, makes it the first album to feature vocalist and keyboardist Ronnie Platt, keyboardist David Manion, and guitarist Zak Rizvi. Coming 16 years after Somewhere To Elsewhere, which reunited the classic 70s lineup, The Prelude Implicit marks a new chapter in the band’s storied career, yet retains many of the elements essential to the Kansas sound.
Opening with the piano arpeggio drive of “With This Heart,” the mix of vocals and big dramatic spikes are ley to what many Kansas fans love. "The Unsung Heroes" is blues-based track that puts Platt in the driver’s seat. His vocals are clear and strong, though guitarist Rich Williams and violinist David Ragsdale handle those interwoven lead lines with surefire precision. .
Williams and Ragsdale stand out through much of the album. Ragsdale slices over the top with Williams on "Rhythm In The Spirit." The two spar and wail on “Summer,” and take off with drummer Phil Ehart on the middle of “Camouflage,” the heaviest tune on the album. The eight-minute plus opus “The Voyage Of Eight Eighteen” is a sweeping, multi-movement piece with Ehart snapping up front in the mix as the violin, organ and synth fall into the kinetic instrumental passages, enhancing all those heavy Kansas touchstones.
Two covers end The Prelude Implicit. There’s Rich Williams’ expert acoustic playing on “Home On The Range.” The guitarist also has one of his best turns on the main melody line of "Oh Shenandoah." All the parts are right and the players are in top form; overall, they take the wild flights of instrumental fury to show that they like to stretch out.
Platt can really sing, Billy Greer’s bass and backing vocals are magnificently subtle, Rizvi is as present in his playing as he as a songwriter and co-producer, Manion mans the keys serviceably throughout, and Ehart proves once again he is one of the best drummers in rock. While I am left flat by many of the songs, The Prelude Implicit is a valiant effort that is, if anything else, keeping the Kansas train running.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.