Album Review: Much of Kansas' music dealt with grandeur, myth, and the struggle to find oneself, but these boys also knew how to combine such lofty themes with more down-to-earth topics and music. Most of their best songs are collected here on this two-disc set, The Kansas Boxed Set. There are a number of what might be called "monster tracks" on the album, led by the two songs that propelled Kansas into the world's consciousness—"Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind." Both were huge hits that received copious
amounts of radio play in their time (and still do today). There are also many equally great tracks here—songs that did not receive as much attention but are just as good, if not better. Top on this list is the introspective Steve Walsh track "The Wall," which magnificently frames one's spiritual challenges as a mysterious physical barrier. There are
also grand portrayals of mythological tales and heroic themes, including the soaring, amazing "Icarus - Borne On Wings Of Steel" and the hard-rocking "Mysteries And Mayhem," wisely positioned back-to-back with the majestic sequel to it, "The Pinnacle." Kansas penned and performed a number of excellent songs about the tragic loss of Native Americans' way of life; included here are "Incomudro - Hymn To The Atman," "Song
For America" and "People Of The South Wind." Of course, the album includes the somewhat cheesy hit "Point Of Know Return," as well as a couple other lesser hits—unfortunately at the expense of a few much better songs like "Miracles Out of Nowhere," "Cheyenne Anthem" and "All the World." But that sort of tradeoff is inevitable when a
record company takes on the hard task of providing an overview of a band's career, especially when nearly all the songs from great albums like Leftoverture or Masque are candidates for inclusion on a best-of album. The first five original studio albums that
Kansas did—Leftoverture, Masque, Song For America, Point Of Know Return, Kansas—are all excellent and all worth
owning (in the order listed); and if you have those, there isn't much more here to warrant a purchase. But if you're looking for an overview of this great band's career, The Kansas Boxed Set does an excellent job of presenting you with a couple dozen of Kansas' essential songs.