Drastic Measures


Epic/Legacy, 1983


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Panic makes people do the silliest things.

You’re Kansas. Your last album, Vinyl Confessions, has been your worst-selling album ever. You eked out one reasonably lame chart hit. Your new lead singer, John Elefante, just isn’t cutting it when compared to Steve Walsh. You’ve lost violinist Robby Steinhardt, whose strings made “Dust In The Wind” the brilliance it was, because he didn’t sign up to be in a CCM band. Do you get back to basics? Go back to the music that made Point Of Know Return what it was?

Um, apparently not. Instead, you panic and put out a disc that sounds like Loverboy Lite. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Drastic Measures, indeed; so drastic, in fact, it put the band on hiatus for the next three years. At its best, Drastic Measures is listenable. At its worst, well… there aren’t too many albums that you can claim ended a band’s career, even temporarily.

Once again, Kansas changed producers, this time signing up Neil Kernon, whose resume bears an astonishing resemblance to a late-‘80s showing of MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (Dokken, Autograph, and the ever-popular Britny Fox). Once again, the production sucks rocks. It’s flat, it’s monotone, it sounds like Kernon shoved the treble knob all the way out and stepped out for a corn dog. Kernon’s ham-handed engineering makes songs like “Fight Fire With Fire” and “Don’t Take Your Love Away” sound like bad power-pop as played on a decrepit roller-rink sound system.  Factor in the amazing lyrical subtlety of John Elefante and his brother Dino (“And you know I’ll fight fire with fire / I’m burnin’ inside, and my heart is a-cryin’”) and you’d swear that compared to this, the Tubes’ “She’s A Beauty” is a Shakespearean sonnet. Like Vinyl Confessions, Drastic Measures was remastered in a 1996 version which is very difficult to find.

The only two reasons to listen to Drastic Measures, frankly, are two of the three tracks that Kerry Livgren contributed. “Mainstream” is a viciously funny and astonishingly bitter look at the music business and how Kansas had fit in -- or not fit in -- in it, and “Incident On A Bridge,” a melodic album-closer that could be either love song or hymn.  Given the amount of dross, there is very little gold to be found here.

Drastic Measures is only recommended -- and that guardedly -- for the Kansas completist. It would be three years and an almost-complete lineup change before Kansas returned with anything resembling decent work.

Rating: D+

User Rating: D



© 2008 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.