Unplugged & Totally Uncut

Seventh Key Billy Greer

February 20, 201413 min
There was something about the music of the 1970's that continues to pour volumes of influence onto our modern oversaturation of IPods, Microsoft tablets and other digital devices. Rather than stacking spools of black vinyl in the corner of your teenage bedroom. Today's fan of music took a two decade time out during a generation of creative release called the compact disc. They were expensive. Awkward for the front seat of the car. And being the former Montana champion of using 45's and albums as the next best thing to a Frisbee. CD's looked bright and beautiful like a peacock but soared through the air like a monkey with jet pack attached to its back. I'm not shocked when I hear fans of music are discovering the art work and layout of a 1970's act. It was a simmering stew of every nation and style. The harmonies were genuine. And the lyrics were the farthest thing from embarrassment. But today's listeners are smarter. Music isn't just about the band. Each thump of the pie arrives from a chunk of the cake. For there to be music. The requirement is unity. And that's when the fan uses their digital devices to uncover the history of legendary bass guitarists such as Billy Greer. You know him. But you might not truly know the roots that have become the modern crop. They write: Sometimes, one band is not enough. That is certainly the case with musician/ songwriter Billy Greer, best known as the bassist / backing vocalist for legendary classic rock act, Kansas, as well as the driving force behind prog rockers, Seventh Key. Now with the release of I WILL SURVIVE, Greer and partner Mike Slamer return with a new, dynamic Seventh Key CD, which many believe may be the groupʼs strongest album yet. From the powerful title track, to its punchy closer, “I Want It All,” this third album from Seventh Key shows the band has lost none of its bite since 2004ʼs The Raging Fire. “I think the new CD is maybe a little bit more hard edged and probably some of the tracks are a little more progressive,” says Greer, who managed to co-write and record the new album while holding down his recording and performance duties with Kansas. In addition to his long-time musical partner, Mike Slamer (ex-City Boy), the album also features contributions from keyboardist David Manion; vocalist Terry Brock; and drummer Chet Wynd. Kansas violinist David Ragsdale also is among the special guests, playing on four tracks. The seeds for Seventh Key began in the early 1980s, when Greer, Slamer, and Kansas vocalist Steve Walsh were working together in the group, Streets, which Walsh formed after departing Kansas in 1980. After two albums on Atlantic Records, Streets went its separate ways, and Walsh returned to a newly reformed Kansas in 1984, bringing Greer with him. By the turn of the millennium, Greer was ready to start his own musical project. In the end, Seventh Key came as a result of Greer’s frustration at not being able to contribute more creatively to Kansas. “ That is exactly what it was,” says Greer. “ I consider Steve Walsh one of the best singers in rockʼnʼroll and that is a very big shadow to live in, especially if you had always considered yourself a lead singer. That was what I was before I met Steve Walsh. Because they already had a writing hierarchy in that band, I have been kind of left out of the writing loop with Kansas. Over the years it became a little frustrating to me. I wanted people to hear that I could sing too and I could write my own songs, so, I decided to do my own record .” Thatʼs when Greer decided to get his former Streets band mate, Mike Slamer involved. Slamer became the producer and the engineer and eventually a partner in the project, contributing writing, guitar work and backing vocals. Both Greer and Slamer write the majority of the bandʼs material together. “It's a collaboration but mainly Mike brings the musical ideas to the table and I bring the melodies and the lyrics. That is the how we usually do it.”

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