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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kansas: "Leftoverture" 35th Anniversary; Phil Ehart Interview

Kansas returned to Topeka in 1975 and began work on what would become "Leftoverture". The album was released in October 1976, 35 years ago. Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited recently spoke to Phil Ehart on the 35th anniversary. Read excerpts below.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the band, Kerry Livgren was about to go on a creative surge that would keep Kansas on the road for the next 35 plus years. It seems the "Rock Gods" opened up the clouds and gave the blonde haired muse the inspiration to create the best songs he had ever written. The band watched enthusiastically as Kerry Livgren topped his best song ever written on a daily basis.

In the interview that follows, Kansas drummer, Phil Ehart, takes us back to Topeka and discusses the songs, the songwriting and the success of "Leftoverture".

Jeb: It has been 35 years since "Leftoverture" was released. Does it seem like it has been that long?

Phil: It just hit me a couple of months ago, that it has been that long. You know, that is a really good question, as I am not sure what 35 years is supposed to feel like. Albums are a snapshot of what was going on at that time. When we think of "Leftoverture", we can tell you where we were, what we were doing, where we worked up the songs, and when we went down to Bogalusa, Louisiana to record it, but we really can’t tell you much about anything else from that time period. It is pretty to cool to have things like that.

Jeb: The story of "Leftoverture" really begins with the album, and tour, that came before it, "Masque". As legend holds, Don Kirshner was pressuring the band for a hit song.

Phil: It is a pretty well known fact that "Leftoverture", being our fourth album, had Don wanting us to have a hit. He had had enough of the FM radio play, and of having us be an opening band for seven thousands bands across the country. It wasn’t really pressure. He would just say, “Guys, let’s try to get something on the radio.” As it turned out “Carry on Wayward Son” was that song.

Jeb: That almost didn’t happen.

Phil: It almost didn’t make it on the record. We had already worked up, chosen, and rehearsed all of the songs that were going on the record. We were packing up all of our gear and Kerry (Livgren) said, “I have another song that I wasn’t to play for you when we get down to the studio.” If he hadn’t have been persistent, and not believed in the song himself, then it might not have happened. Of course, as soon as we all heard it, we worked it up immediately.

Read the entire interview on Classic Rock Revisited.

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