300. Art of the State – AD

ART OF THE STATE (1985)

AD

Though often referred to as “Kerry Livgren and AD,” this album is actually just an AD album, more having to do with contractual obligations that with any artistic persuasion. Kerry Livgren was still under contract both CBS Records and to his band, Kansas, and using his name outside of the CBS family would be a breach of that contract. The first “AD” was released by CBS and he was given permission to use his name on that album.

After Livgren’s conversion to Christianity there was rift formed in the band Kansas between Livgren’s Christian emphasis and lead vocalist Steve Walsh’s real non-Christian worldview and lifestyle. Walsh left the band to pursue a solo career using the moniker “Streets.” Livgren stayed with Kansas and held auditions to replace Walsh. Though John Elefante would eventually get the gig, vocalists Warren Ham and Michael Gleason caught Livgren’s eye and both would become members of AD as vocalists and instrumentalist. Both would also tour at one time or another with Kansas in support positions.

Livgren was writing more prominently Christian material and was finding that working with other phenomenal Christian musicians was both artistically and personally satisfying. Bassist Dave Hope was feeling the same way and they joined forces to create the side-project AD, along with Ham, Gleason and Kansas drummer Phil Ehart.

the first album will be discussed later, but here AD bows in with Art of the State. The comparisons to Kansas are obvious, but there are marked differences as well with much more of a worship emphasis in the classical influences (All Creation Sings) and some more experimental underpinnings that would also be found on Kansas’ “Drastic Measures album (We Are the Men).

The heavier influence of brass instruments is also noticeable given Ham’s strength in this area. Being able to use two different primary vocalist also helped the diversity of the project as can be attested by Games of Chance and Circumstance and The Fury.

The progressive combination of rock and classical that made Kansas a mega-group are found here throughout as well. But one may note a sense of freedom lyrically to be more direct and that freedom is a positive influence. Songs like Heartland and Zion take on a combination of political and spiritual themes. The album’s closer “Up From the Wasteland” remains a personal favorite of one of Livgren’s finer and most interesting songs.

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  1. Lee Pfahler
    November 13, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Ah, Kerry Livgren, where does one start? If it hadn’t been for his contractual obligations, AD could have been a huge hit in the mainstream like Kansas had been. I saw AD once just before this album was released. Through connections of a friend of a friend we got to meet the band before and after the concert and I got autographs of the entire band in my copy of Kerry’s autobiography Seeds of Change. The Art of the State album is my favorite AD album, but they are all good. I have kept up with his career since and I enjoy all of his music both past and present. If you haven’t heard his band Proto-Kaw then you are in for an ear-ful. Look them up online.

  2. Brian
    November 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I cannot fail to mention how important this album was to young Christians early in their walk with CHRIST. It was immense. I always considered Kerry a friend who came along with me in the journey of my CHRISTian walk.

    All Creation Sings is world class IMO and crosses the treacherous seas of genre crossing by the combination of Rock, (what would be known of as) Worship & Progressive Music in a smooth sailing effort.

    But the grand piece is The Fury….Dark, Powerful, Purposeful, Scary and enlightening. It inspired me to do a video for this song. (You can find it on YouTube). BUt is was an Instant Classic, good enough to complete with any Kansas epic.

    So many good points on this album although We Are The Men could have been left off.
    The good points beside what was mentioned already were Games of Chance (And Circumstance) and Up From The Wasteland. Each of these songs were hauntingly wonderful. It transitioned one from the hard rock sound of Kansas (with enough of the progressive feel) to initiate one to the new world which would become Kerry’s second career.

    This is my vote for the MUST OWN album.

  3. Jerrid
    November 17, 2010 at 4:14 am

    While I think Time Line was their best, AOTS was and is outstanding. An album that still sounds fresh every time I hear it. All Creation Sings may be my all-time favorite rock worship song.

  4. Jon
    March 10, 2011 at 5:37 am

    One side note, wasn’t Dennis Holt playing drums for AD, at least when this one came out? He played for them when I saw them live. I later saw him as a member of Steve Taylor’s band…. talk about one musical extreme to the other!

    • Mike
      February 17, 2014 at 3:32 am

      Yes Dennis Holt was the drummer for AD, not Phil Ehert from Kansas.

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