Two for the Show is a double-live album by American progressive rock band Kansas, released in 1978 and was recorded over the course of the band’s three previous tours in 1977 and 1978.
Now, other than Carry On My Wayward Son, Dust In The Wind and Point of Know Return, I knew little to nothing else about prog-rock band Kansas when I was growing up. Sure, they had a violin player and big bushy hair kinda similar to ELO, so I just dismissed them as an American ELO and went on with my day: how foolish I was to dismiss them like that.
Unlike the previous prog entrant in this series (Camel with their snooze-fest A Live Record) Kansas have the prog chops to excite, write tunes that rock and are bloody kilometres better than ELO (not a diss on ELO, I just Kansas are musically better, prog-wise). This was a delightful listening experience for me; lots of keyboards, guitars and time-changes to keep me hooked. I could see why the, short-lived in the UK, prog revival of the early 80’s mentioned Kansas as an influence. I can hear early Marillion, Pallas and IQ in the songs on here.
There’s only one song here over 10 minutes (the rather grandiosely titled Magnum Opus), the band have a knack for writing short-ish (for prog!) catchy, rocking tunes. I’ve not been this happily surprised about a band since the Gentle Giant live album. It’s not all fun and games though. Whilst the first two sides rock and prog with thd best of them, side 3 opens with the execrable Dust In The Wind (complete with acoustic guitar solo) and then wobbles and lurches and starts listing all over side 3 before, thankfully, Closet Chronicles opens side 4 and rightens the uptempo prog ship and the band sails on unskirmished.
I gave Gentle Giant a 7.5/10 (points knocked off for drum solos and hey-nonny-ness) and Two For The Show gets an 8.5/10. There’s no drum solos but the wobble on side three stops it from getting full marks. If you only know a couple of Kansas songs then I would totally recommend you listen to this live album if good and catchy prog-rock is your bag (it is mine).
Next time I listen to yet more prog-rock! Will it be good? Will it be bad? Will it be a bag of shit tied up with chicken wire? Tune in to find out but until then, TTFN.