Friday, 26 February 2010

Why Kansas City?

Good news on the new music front. The beard-loving, black pudding-hating troubadour Otis Gibbs has a new album out. Called "Joe Hill's Ashes", it won't be available in shops until May but you can download it now from his website. I strongly recommend that you do.

On the basis of a quick first listen this morning I reckon it will prove to be a worthy successor to past triumphs such as "One Day Our Whispers" and "Grandpa Walked A Picketline". I will try to do a proper review after a couple more listens - you lucky things! - but for now I'm going to veer off at a tangent.

One of the tracks on Otis's new album is called "Kansas City". This got me thinking about how many songs I know with Kansas City in the title, starting with "Oklahoma!" and endless versions of the Leiber & Stoller song, then picking up "Kansas City Southern" by Dillard & Clark and so on and so on. What is it about this city of less than 500,000 people that has inspired such a disproportionate number of songs?

Here is Otis's contribution to the canon, along with a couple of old favourites:

"Kansas City" - Otis Gibbs (from "Joe Hill's Ashes", 2010)

"The Eternal Kansas City" - Van Morrison (from "A Period Of Transition", 1977)

"Kansas City Morning" - Katy Moffatt (from "Kissin' In The California Sun", 1978)

And then of course there is the band Kansas. Normally I treat all that prog and AOR naffness with the disdain it deserves, but I do have a soft spot for "Leftoverture" and "Point Of Know Return". I used to listen to them a lot when I was about 14, and at that age it is easy to mistake the incomprehensible for the intellectual. Here are the lads in their pomp:

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