(All Album Reviews by BrianG)
Back in the 1980's Kerry Livgren would have been called a "Renaissance Man", when men were dabbling in new interests of music, poetry, woodworking and taking care of the kids. A summary of his long resume and is many pursuits is on his website, and worth reading to understand this influential and creative artist.
On Prime Mover, Livgren re-releases and re-records an album previously released by his former band, AD. The gruesome details are available in the liner notes. The songs are mostly big band blues numbers, although the symphonic touches on "Out of Opus" and "Portrait II" still makes it feel like a Kansas album. "Don't Pass Me By" is a real R&B killer, with Hall and Oates style vocals and arrangements to delight any fan of great 70's rock. Livgren's vocals are clear and forceful throughout. He has a diversity of voices he uses including a gospelly scat singer, a blues belter hitting the incredible high notes,a big band crooner, and a rock impresario.
On some parts of the album, the older songs do not hold up as well. "I'll Follow You" and "Fair Exchange" are not as sure footed and pull the album down. He uses a reggae beat to a 70's anthem with blues in "New Kind of Love" but returns to add some Kansas symphonic touches in "Brave Hearts" Then toward the end of the album, Livgren cranks up the blues again and sends it off with some memorable music.
Even though the music on this album has been around for a long time, Livgren shows how to update it and make it relevant again.