Thirty years later, TWO FOR THE SHOW: 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION will arrive in stores July 1st on Kirshner/Epic/Legacy, a division of SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.
The double-CD package will be housed in a beautifully designed, environmentally friendly, plastic-free soft pack, containing a 24-page full-color booklet with many unseen photographs, and a new liner notes essay written by Jeb Wright. “Looking back,” Wright reflects, “it is hard to believe that these six long-haired, rough and tumble Midwesterners took only a few years to go from playing local bars to selling out Madison Square Garden but that is exactly what happened.” Wright, a native of Topeka, Kansas – the band’s hometown – is the owner/editor of Classic Rock Revisited online music magazine, which can be found at www.classicrockrevisited.com.
Wright also points out the story behind the album cover graphic – the familiar rendering of the two cleaning ladies seated in the empty red velvet orchestra seats after a show, their mops in view, perusing the Kansas playbill. It was based on a Norman Rockwell painting titled “The Charwomen” that originally appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post of April 6, 1946. The 1978 version went on to win an award from the Norman Rockwell Foundation. Today it serves as the homepage of the band’s website, with the red curtained stage serving as the backdrop for the site views. After five RIAA gold, platinum and multi-platinum LPs, the original release of Two For the Show was welcomed in November 1978 by fans of Kansas, a band whose career has always been based on their reputation as live performers. The double-album chronicled their mammoth tours of 1977-78, which built on the breakthrough success of their consecutive Top 5 LPs Leftoverture (1976, with “Carry On Wayward Son”) and Point Of Know Return (1977, with “Point Of Know Return” and “Dust In the Wind”).
To the delight of Kansas completists around the world, TWO FOR THE SHOW will finally restore the live version of “Closet Chronicles” to the playlist (on disc two). This rarity was first heard on the Point Of Know Return album, and as the B-side of the “Point Of Know Return” single. When the first-generation CD of Two For the Show was issued in 1989, “Closet Chronicles” (which preceded “Magnum Opus” as the next-to-last track on the double-LP) was cut for length reasons. The live version of “Closet Chronicles” anchors CD two on the new package, whose 10 other live tracks gathered from the 1977-78 tours are previously unreleased. Among them is the closing track, the cover of J.J. Cale’s “Bring It Back,” which Kansas picked up from Cale’s debut LP of 1971, Naturally. The band recorded it (as “Bringing It Back”) on their own self-titled debut album of 1974, Kansas, on the Kirshner label, distributed by Epic Associated Labels. It remained their only non-Kansas composition recorded during their entire first decade 1974-83, and their nine studio LPs on Kirshner (before moving to MCA in 1986, when they began to record ‘outside’ material). The original classic lineup of Kansas – lead singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh, guitarist Kerry Livgren, guitarist Rich Williams, violinist and singer Robby Steinhardt, bassist Dave Hope, and drummer Phil Ehart – remained intact for that first decade, before taking a well-earned three year sabbatical from October 1983 to late-1986.
By the time they regrouped in ’86, Livgren had gone on to a solo career as a Christian music artist (with Hope), Steinhardt had left, and the core of Walsh, Williams, and Ehart brought in guitarist (and occasional violinist) Steve Morse from Dixie Dregs, and bassist Billy Greer. On occasion, Livgren (who is now a farmer) and Steinhardt have rejoined, and Morse was replaced by David Ragsdale on violin and guitar. The current touring lineup stars Ehart, Greer, Ragsdale, Walsh, and Williams. Expanded editions of Leftoverture (and 1975’s Masque), both with bonus tracks and liner notes written by David Wild, were issued by Legacy in May 2001. The next year, an expanded edition of Point Of Know Return (with two bonus tracks, and liner notes again written by David Wild) was issued by Legacy in February 2002. Most recently, expanded editions of 1974’s Kansas and Song For America (both with bonus tracks and new liner notes) were issued in June 2004. In July 2004, the two-CD box set Sail On was issued.
The deluxe three-disc package contains two CDs and a full-length bonus DVD – the first box set ever to expand upon their seminal megaplatinum hitmaking decade at Epic Records with nearly two decades’ more material from five of the band’s subsequent record labels, covering the years 1986-2000.2009 will officially mark the 35th anniversary of Kansas and the release of their debut album in 1974. The album, Wright concludes, “is a testament to a great band at the top of their game. A large majority of the track listing is still found in the band’s set list today, proving their music remains both majestic and timeless.
This album is a true testament to their abilities. So, the time has come for me to Welcome you to Kansas and invite you to sit back, crank up the volume, and enjoy TWO FOR THE SHOW.”