Samstag, Oktober 02, 2010 / Eingestellt von peter /

Streets were formed in late 1982 or early 1983 by then former Kansas vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter Steve Walsh, who left that band partly or mainly because he couldn't relate to Kerry Lofgren’s increasingly more religious lyrics. Walsh's lyrics about more street level things, like love and lust and 'lonely streets' were a nice contrast to Lofgren’s more serious, philosophical and religious lyrics, and musically his songs were in a more straight forward and less progressive rock vein than Lofgren’s.

It was (is?) no surprise then that Walsh's songs on Street/1st were both a continuation and an update of what he wrote in Kansas, yet the sound is noticeably different, with much more emphasis on guitars and with less adventurous and more straight forward 4/4 drumming and bright, colorful and very 80's sounding keyboards and synthesizers. And the more simple, down to earth lyrics and music may also account for the band's name. Even though you have Steve Walsh's distinctive high tenor singing voice, this sounds almost nothing like Kansas...which is not necessarily a bad thing. The change in sound also had to do with the fact that Walsh was now writing music for a quartet, where in Kansas he had to write songs for a sextet and for much more instruments. For those who were disappointed at how different this sounded than Kansas, it should be noted that even Kansas weren't sounding like their old selves around this time. It may also be worth pointing out that both Streets/1st and Kansas/Drastic Measures, released the same year, were produced and engineered by Neil Kernon.

Joining Steve Walsh in Streets was/were drummer Tim Gehrt( who played on Walsh's Schemer Dreamer album), ex-City Boy guitarist Mike Slamer and bassist Billy Greer, who would join Steve when he re-formed Kansas a few years later.

The songs are:
If Love Should Go (4:07) Walsh-Slamer
Move On (3:48) Walsh
One Way Street (4:48) Walsh
Lonely Woman's Cry (5:35) Walsh
Everything Is Changing (3:09) Walsh
Cold Hearted Woman (3:20) Conn
So Far Away (3:53) Walsh
Blue Town (3:29) Walsh-Slamer-Gehrt-Greer
Fire (5:08) Walsh-Slamer-Gehrt
Do I like this as much as Kansas? No, not really. Walsh could still hit them impossibly high notes, though with not as much ease as he used to and his voice was starting to take on a tougher and more gravely edge. The songs don't have as much depth and variety as Kansas songs acoustic guitar and/or piano led ballad would have sounded out of place here, but would have given the album some much needed variety....and the production, while very heavy on guitars, is noticeably thin, due to the bass guitar being buried in the mix. And, take away Walsh's distinctive singing voice and this could have been any other generic, 80's hard rock/pop group (Loverboy and Kiss during their hair pop/metal years in the late 80's comes to mind).

Still, you can't have everything (where would you put it?) and the album does have it's share of likable songs on it. And if this is a commercial and radio friendly sounding album, it is so in good ways. If Love Should Go, One Way Street, Everything is Changing and Cold Hearted Woman all have catchy, sing-alongable choruses and verses, memorable, catchy and tough guitar riffs and some very well played guitar solos (by Mike Slamer, who really plays his wump off on the entire album) and incredible singing, as do a few of the lesser songs like Blue Town, Move On (maybe too much synthesizer on this one) and So Far Away, though not as much obviously. I also like the vocal harmonies by Billy Greer on the chorus for If Love Should Go. Everything is Changing has my favorite lyric on the album, with the opening line " My world is changing I won't put up a fight, my microwaves are making love in the night...".
The most complex pieces are the two longest, Lonely Woman's Cry and Fire. The latter is also the most progressive piece and has the longest instrumental section, during which Greer and Walsh get a chance to show off on their respective musical instruments. While I think Fire may be the most interesting song musically, it unfortunately has the worst vocal performance on the album, with Walsh really overdoing it on the higher notes and trying too hard to sound neat...a trend that unfortunately would continue and get even worse in the future as his voice would gradually deteriorate.
I'm glad that the name Kansas was not chosen for this band, not just because it was still being used at the time, but also because I don't think I would accept this as a Kansas album. Taken on it's own terms, though, I find this to be a rather enjoyable, if lightweight, album. I would say it may be my favorite thing that Steve Walsh did outside of Kansas, and I prefer it to the rather forgettable second and last album by Streets, Crimes In Mind and almost everything by the re-formed Kansas of 1986 and beyond (the exception is 2000's wonderful Somewhere To Elsewhere, which Walsh sang on, but was written exclusively by Kerry Livgren).

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