Leftoverture Album Review

By the time Kansas released it’s breakthrough album, Leftoverture, in 1976, progressive rock music was hitting it’s popularity stride. Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes were blazing the trail of stylistic experimentation and exploration that came to define ‘prog rock’. Fusing together elements of jazz, folk, blues, classical and rock music, the prog rock movement utilized complex arrangements, time signature changes, song length and fantasy subject matters to captivate its listeners. 


Kerry Livgren, the guitarist and keyboard player for Kansas, grew up in a musical family and had an affinity for all sorts of music, but was especially enraptured by the classical genre. He learned to play guitar as a teenager in Topeka, where he assembled a band consisting mainly of friends from school, a couple of which remained, making the core of the rock group Kansas. 

Leftoverture came at a time when Kansas was struggling to produce a hit song. Having already released three albums without much acclaim, the band was in a do-or-die situation as producers and executives were growing impatient. The pressure mounted, paralyzing the band with writer’s block as they entered the recording studio. In a recent interview with Livgren, he recalled that their creativity had dried up. With their backs against the wall, they would write a song, practice it and then record it the next day. Some of the music that had been unused from other projects was pieced together in desperation to make complete songs. The second arrangement on the album, The Wall, contains an ascending chord progression toward the end of the piece, which was one of these previously unused pieces. The leftovers from the earlier ideas is exactly how the album Leftoverture got its name.

As scattered as the writing and recording experience was, the outcome was brilliant. These were masters at their respective crafts who refused to let a dry spell stop them from creating great music. Their resolve was a testimony to the abilities of six band members who quickly rediscovered their creative genius to transform a hurried project into a tapestry of artwork that ushers the listening mind into a musical daydream.

Steve Walsh – lead and background vocals, organ, piano, vibes, synthesizer. 
Robby Steinhardt – lead and background vocals, violin, viola. 
Kerry Livgren – electric guitar, piano, clavinet synthesizer. 
Rich Williams – acoustic and electric guitar. 
Dave Hope – bass guitar. 
Phil Ehart – drums and percussion. 


A very receptive audience helped to catapult the album to #5 on Billboard’s pop album chart, thanks to the first song on the record, Carry On Wayward Son. This rock anthem peaked at #11 on Billboard’s top 40 hit list and continues to get widespread airplay on every Rock station in every city in America. It is often included in conversations about the greatest rock songs ever produced. Kerry Livgren wrote the song as a sequel to the last song on their previous album, Masque. Wayward Son almost never made it onto the album, as it was written just as the band was about ready to record the material they already had prepared. One can only speculate about the impression Kansas would have left on the music world had this song not been included. 

Livgren claimed that Wayward Son was a song about himself as he sought to provide himself some encouragement to press on. “Carry on my wayward son, for there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Now don’t you cry no more”. Livgren’s introspection and personal search for purpose and meaning is evident throughout many of his early songs as he often pressed for answers to the questions of life and the hereafter. As such, Leftoverture is a deep well of intellectually stimulating lyrics. It asks some probing questions, many of which abruptly stop us in our tracks because we have the same questions. 

Miracles out of Nowhere 
On a crystal morning, I can see the dewdrops falling
Down from gleaming heaven. I can hear the voices call
When you coming home now, son? the world is not for you
Tell me, what’s your point of view? 

The Wall 
The promised land is waiting like a maiden that is soon to be a bride
The moment is a masterpiece, the weight of indecision’s in the air
It’s standing there, the symbol and the sum of all that’s me
It’s just a travesty, towering, blocking out the light and blinding me
I want to see 

Questions of My Childhood 
Well I walk the road of life among the strong, among the weak
And I ask them for the shortcut to the answers that I seek
But it seems nobody understands what is and what will be
Oh, the questions of my childhood weave a web of mystery 

Several events in Kerry Livgren’s life caused him to develop an acute awareness of the brevity of life and the finality of death. He expressed these themes in his lyrics. He eventually found answers to many of his pressing questions when he became a Christian while on the Monolith tour in 1979. 

Even though Kansas had their roots in Topeka, they credit the Western Pennsylvania area for thrusting them into the spotlight. The bill for a 1975 show at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh featured Kansas, Styx and Queen. Freddie Mercury became sick and unable to perform that night and so the promoter asked Kansas to extend their set, essentially making them co-headline the concert. The fans were thrilled. Though the band was not well known nationally at the time, the Western Pennsylvanians knew every lyric from the songs because early Kansas had been well received in the concerts they had done in some smaller the local venues like Slippery Rock and Johnstown. Very soon, Kansas was playing in every large arena all over the country. Guitarist Rich Williams commented that, “Pittsburgh will always be the holy grail for us. When nobody else supported us, Pittsburgh and the rest of Pennsylvania did.” 

The drummer, Phil Ehart was essentially the art director for the band while artist Dave McMacken actually created the album cover art for Leftoverture. McMacken was known for his work with such musical icons as Journey, AC/DC, Frank Zappa and the Beatles. In retrospect, the cover seems to convey the timeless nature of the music. The old man, surrounded by cut stone, deep in thought, presses the quill into the scroll as he writes his Magnum Opus is set against the backdrop of futuristic-looking planetary constellation. The modern-style ‘Kansas’ font is a stark contrast to the handwritten ‘Leftoverture’ calligraphy, an artistic form of writing first employed thousands of years ago using a reed. The electric guitar made popular in the last 75 years and the white baby grand piano are like bookends around a violin, an instrument dating back to the 16th Century. The smouldering wood in the fireplace, the empty inkwell, the melted candle wax and the crumpled up papers may have been symbolic of the hardship of the writing and recording process. Even one of the books on the writer’s desk is entitled ‘Music Thru the Ages’, which seems to be more than a subtle prophetic clue to the album’s eventual timeless status. The back cover shows that the writing desk has been tipped over, possibly an indication of the completed masterpiece, but we only speculate on these things. It’s a beautiful piece of artwork to complement the amazing music on the album. 

Any music collection that doesn’t have Leftoverture is an incomplete collection. Download it now, or better yet, search through a local vinyl record shop and treat your turntable to a magnificent symphony of classic seventies Rock. 

Saturday Night Special – January Edition

On January 25, Trevolta returns to the Butler Art Center for the second of four shows through the winter. We will headline the Saturday Night Special at the Butler Art Center with three other bands joining us for an awesome night of Rock ‘n Roll! If you missed the first show, make sure you get yourself and some friends to this one!

The guests will include Commissioner, The Cryptids and Better Think Twice. Trevolta will hit the stage to finish out the night with their hard-edged Rock ‘n Roll sound! You will never get this much great entertainment for such a small price: $3.00 cover charge, pay at the door.

Trevolta T-shirts will also be available for $15. You need one of these if you want to impress your friends with our killer logo.

Doors open up at 5pm with the first band starting at 6pm sharp. Show up at the Butler Art Center, 344 South Main St., Butler PA. See you there!


Boston Debut Album Review

Boston’s spaceship guitars flew boldly onto the Rock & Roll music scene with their debut album selling almost a half million copies in just a few weeks after its release in August of 1976. In the forty-plus years since then, the album has sold over 17 million copies, a remarkable testimony to the staying power of the classic rock sound that defined the Seventies. It had to be a musical masterpiece, given the number of amazing albums that were adorning the rock and roll landscape at the time. There was no room on the national airwaves or household turntables for anything mediocre. Artists were producing legendary albums like Hotel California, Leftoverture, Fly Like an Eagle and Destroyer. If a band’s music was less than awesome, it was going to be shot down in flames immediately. Boston’s debut album, however, soared to the heights. 


The album cover instantly propels your mind into an other-wordly existence, matching the musical themes emanating from those deep vinyl grooves. Great album art should kick start the musical emotions and listening expectations. Before the needle ever touches the surface of the record, the listener has already begun his journey of imagination as the record slides out of the sleeve. Album art does that! Digital downloading is convenient, but it has robbed the listener of the musical foreplay necessary to fully enjoy the entire experience of the album. The visual and the auditory combine in the perfect measure with this Boston album, taking us to another place. Where are you going in your mind when you see this album cover?  What place will you visit as you hear the message in the songs? Tom Scholz, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, in his own words about the song, More Than a Feeling: “It’s a piece of music that really takes me to someplace else when I listen to it. Which is my criteria for whether a recording I come up with is worthy of going on a Boston album. I shut my eyes and I play it at the end of a long day in the studio. If I still enjoy it, and it takes me some place else, and I forget about all that I had to go through that day, then it’s a winner. “More than a Feeling” did that for me.” 


The cover was designed by prolific graphic artist Paula Scher and illustrated by Roger Huyssen. Scholz  wanted a guitar on the cover, but Scher thought a guitar would be ‘too cliche’. She and the Epic Records product manager compromised with a guitar-shaped space ship. “The first space ship cover idea we showed Scholz had a Boston invasion of the planet, but Scholz said that space ships should be saving the planet, not attacking. So we came up with the Earth-blowing-up idea“, she said. 

The opening lines of the first song, More Than a Feeling, set the tone for the whole album. 

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away

The exploding earth on the cover suggests we’re living in a shattered world. But the IMG_5037music tells us there is a somewhere we can go to slip away. The crisp guitar of Tom Scholz combined with the unmistakable voice of lead singer Brad Delp takes the imagination on a contemplative journey. Who is Marianne? Yes, indeed we all know her and she’s different to all of us. Did she love us? Why did she leave? Where is she now? Our minds slip into the past as we ‘hear that old song they used to play’. 

The key to unlocking the meaning of a story lies in discerning the author’s original intent. Music is often very difficult to interpret because we usually don’t know the writer’s thoughts unless they have told us. One main purpose of music is to provoke emotions in the listener, be it anger, sadness, joy, love, or peace. If we interpret a musical piece the same way as someone else (even the writer), then the piece isn’t emotive enough in its presentation. My Marianne is not Brad Delp’s Marianne or Tom Scholz’s Marianne or your Marianne. 

Foreplay/Longtime are two songs meant to be played together. The instrumental interlude bursts into a rock and roll anthem that pleased every listening ear. It climbed the charts and peaked at #22 in February 1977. This has been one of Boston’s most popular songs, along with Rock and Roll Band, Smokin’ and Peace of Mind, which are still played on radio stations and streaming music services everywhere. Hitch a Ride and Something About You also made it to the airwaves, and even though they are lesser known, that doesn’t mean they were ‘filler’ songs. There is no filler on this record. If anything, the album is way too short with only eight songs totaling under 40 minutes.

Everything about Boston’s debut album is the epitome of the classic rock era: the mustaches, the hair, the wide lapels, the massive guitar sound, the catchy lyrics. The songs never get old no matter how many times they’re played. Every poetic verse releases more of our imagination. Every drum beat makes our heart pound. And every note of the guitar gives us chills. It is all part of journey that takes us to that other place. Even Marianne had to slip away. This album entices us to climb aboard and fly away from the cares of this world, even if it’s just for a few moments.

January Jam 2020 Announcement

We are pleased to announce that Trevolta will be participating in the January Jam 2020 benefit event hosted by Fostering Music. This will be held on Saturday, January 18, starting at 3:00pm at the Inn at Lenape Heights.

A bunch of great bands will be there for a fantastic afternoon and evening of amazing entertainment to help provide musical instruments and lessons for kids in the foster care system.  It’s only $10.00 per person, or $75.00 for a table of 8.

Come on out to Ford City to hear all the bands, knowing that you’re helping a worthy cause! Check out our Events page for address/directions.

Tickets/donations here: https://donorbox.org/fostering-music-s-january-jam


Top Five from 2019

We had a very busy year in 2019! Here’s a list of five of our favorite events:

1). Studio recording with Matt Muckle and Matty Vaughan
2). Jergel’s Rhythm Grill, opening for E5C4P3 Journey Tribute Band
3). Deutschtown Music Festival on Pittsburgh’s North Side
4). Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square in Pittsburgh
5). Dry Bones Street Festival in Tarentum

2019 top 5

High School Rock Off Announcement

We’re extremely happy to announce that Trevolta has been selected to perform in the 24th Annual Tri-C High School Rock Off at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio!

The competition is scheduled for several rounds which take place every Saturday in February 2020. Our slot is in the first round on February 1.

The winner will receive $1000 along with whole bunch of other great prizes, including studio time, discounted/free music distribution, T-Shirts, etc. The winner’s school music program gets another $250.

Advanced tickets are $10.  Contact Sean to get yours now!

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Saturday Night Special

We are super excited to announce a series of shows that we will host in Butler through the winter! Trevolta will headline the Saturday Night Special at the Butler Art Center on the last Saturday of December, January, February and March. Three other bands will join us for some awesome nights of Rock ‘n Roll music! You do NOT want to miss any of these shows.

The guests on opening night on December 28th include The Shed Band, End of Thought and Better Think Twice. Trevolta will storm the stage to finish out the night with their ear-splitting Rock sound! You will never get this much great entertainment for such a small price: $3.00 cover charge on the 28th, pay at the door.

Doors open up at 5pm each night with the first band pounding out their music at 6pm. Show up at the Butler Art Center, 344 South Main St., Butler PA. See you there!