Reviewed by MJBrady on 02 Dec 2003
This release would prove to be somewhat of a comeback for Kansas, they had all but disappeared from the forefront of the American artrock/arena rock scene alltogether, maintaining their namesake by gigging just about everywhere in small auditoriums, bars, clubs and festivals. It had been seven years since the band recorded their last studio cd - In the Spirit of Things, which sold miserably, compared to the sale of prior albums. This cd would feature the band in it's new incarnation, with Steve Walsh at the helm, Rich Williams handling the guitars, and Phil Ehart as the bands mainstay on the drums, these would be the last of the original members of the band that made progressive rock an American ideal. The band had employed some talented members to fill in the voids left by Livgren, Steinhardts, and Hope's departures, and while all these musicians are excellent players, the chemistry that existed in the bands best era, was seemingly impossible to recapture.
I remember playing this cd over and over, wanting it to have the same magic Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Masque, and Song For America had, while it had it's moments (every Kansas album does have some redeeming feature songs), the quality and conviction of their past had all but gone. It seemed the loss of Livgrens multi-instrumental talents, his visionary lyricism, and his mystical ideas were the missing ingredients, as well as Steinhardts countermelodies to Walsh's voice, and his trademark violin playing. Kansas was a band that sounded like a family affair, now sounding like an imitation of itself.
Freaks.. has it's shining moments, and as a whole, I do like it, but I could never recommend it over at least 5 or 6 other Kansas recordings to those who are either discovering the band, or want to continue to hear the bands very best material.
Reviewed by Eric on 24 Mar 2004
Everyday on my way to work, I drive by the old ‘Iron Horse’ bar here in Minneapolis
where Kansas played a couple times, as well as Blue Oyster Cult and numerous
classic rock bands and where Jessie (‘The Body’) Ventura worked as a bouncer (when the
club was called ‘The Rusty Nail’) in the days before stardom and mis-guided political
drive made him a celebrity - deserved or not. It’s now a showroom for Boats and
Canoes- seriously. As I sit at the stop light at the intersection the building sits on, I
sometimes wonder ‘if those walls could talk.....’ Kansas played the ‘Ironhorse’ supporting
Freaks Of Nature and although I couldn’t see the show, I actually drove by the
club that late afternoon with the hope of spotting a band member or a talkative roadie but
it didn’t happen.
I think this is a good album, yet agreeing with the review below, it’s not Kansas in their
prime. I never got into 80’s Kansas, but on Freaks Of Nature, the bands first
studio album several years later, something happened and the band attempted to return to
their roots, or at least - the old Kansas sound. Songs like I Can Fly and Home
Once Again are as good as anything Kansas did in their glory days, yet after several listens
the album tends to wear thin. Time had moved on in 1995, and the fact Kansas were playing clubs
and County fairs on this tour says a lot. Maybe seeing Kansas at the old ‘Ironhorse’ would
have been a dissapointment? I wonder.....