Home > CCM, Christian Music, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 107. Time Line – Kerry Livgren AD

107. Time Line – Kerry Livgren AD

TIME LINE (1984)

Kerry Livgren AD

It was quite apparent with the release of Kansas’ “Drastic measures” that the bands founding member, Kerry Livgren, was done with the band. Drastic Measures featured more and more of Jon Elefante and significantly less Kerry Livgren, both in the songwriting and in direction. Livgren’s attention had shifted to a side project that would become his primary focus over the next decade or so.

Livgren birthed “AD” with a member of Kansas and two vocalists that had once toured with Kansas as backing vocalist and multi-instrumentalists, Warren ham and Michael Gleason. Joining Livgren from Kansas was bassist David Hope. The group was rounded out by drummer Dennis Holt.  Though initially a second solo album for Livgren, the band worked so well together through the recording process that they became a real band, choosing the name AD. CBS record executives demanded Livgren keep his name attached to hopefully help sales with Livgren’s Kansas fan base. The band would be known as AD on following releases.

The freedom to write exactly what he wanted lyrically seemed to free Livgren artistically and the results show. Though the album lacks many of the progressive trademarks of Kansas with only one song breaking the five minute mark, it also contains some of Livgren’s finest straight ahead rock songwriting. The use to two primarily vocalists also allowed a diversity of styles and sounds throughout. Vocalist Warren ham also added his amazing saxophone touches for a unique twist.

There are several great songs here and nearly all are worthy of discussion. The title track opening vocals and funky rhythms and brass section sound is completely foreign to the sound of Kansas. Like much of the album, Livgren’s interest in eschatological matters are revealed in the song. High on a Hill and Welcome to the war would continue the theme.

Gleason would write one song (Make or Break It) and co-write two others (New Age Blues and Beyond the Pale). Gleason would also create several very good solo releases in his career. Oddly enough “Make or Break It” may be the most “Kansas” sounding song on the album and is the only one Livgren did not have a hand in writing. The ballad “Beyond the pale” received some nominal airplay, though quite a bit in Southern California and made the album a huge hit in that area. It is really a beautiful song that answer the questions and doubts found in Dust in the Wind.

The keyboard and modern sounds found in “Slow Motion Suicide” really set the song apart from the vast majority of Livgren’s songs. Great haunting harmonies and mood progressions really create a stand out song, completely different in many respects.

The epic (if it can be considered that at just over 5 minutes) is the album’s closer, Welcome to the War. More “epic” musically. The song remains one of Livgren’s best progressive works as a member of AD. There are an amazing number of musical changes and progressions in just a five minute song.

In a rare instance, there are really no weak songs on the album. It would also be the best work Livgren would do with the band that created some very good music in a very short period of time.

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  1. John
    March 24, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Livgren is absolutley brilliant! Whether he is playing with Kansas or AD there are very few who can compare to the talent of this musician. The musical hooks and lyrics leave you begging for more from every album this man is involved with. Don’t hesitate, give this man your ear and you will be enthralled.

  2. Brian
    April 7, 2011 at 12:07 am

    As a Kerry Livgren life long fan, I find that there is littel he does which I can listen ot over and over. But what really began to make him a standout composer is when CHRIST became his central focus. This was the golden era of launching out in a new direction. With Seeds of Change proclaiming his new found faith, Livgren began to broaden this musical direction. Progressive Rock in Christianity.

    My favorite music in the world (can you tell I really like it?)

    I thank the LORD for this gift.

    Thanks for ranking it in the top 100

  3. Don
    April 8, 2011 at 4:22 am

    My favorite album the summer it came out – listened to it non stop

  4. Shawn McLaughlin
    May 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    As much as I appreciate Livgren, The AD albums were never more than pleasant diversions for me. I think he lacks hook-smarts as a songwriter. His best work with Kansas was either in tandem with Steve Walsh or The Elefante Brothers. As interesting and musical as Timeline is, the tunes just don’t grab me.

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