Vinyl Confessions was a major turning point for the band. After the conversion of both guitarist/keyboard player Kerry Livgren and bass player Dave Hope to born again Christianity, and the greater focus that Livgren placed on Christianity in his lyrics, lead singer Steve Walsh became disenchanted with the direction that Kansas was taking and left to form his own band, Streets. Walsh also contributed much as a songwriter, so the band was forced to find a new lead singer who could not only blend well with the band's style of music, but provide new material for the upcoming album. After a long audition process, the choice came down to three strong candidates: Warren Ham, Michael Gleason and John Elefante. The band eventually settled on Elefante, and during the phone conversation in which he was offered the job, Livgren discovered that Elefante, too, was a Christian. (In fact, so were Ham and Gleason, who would also join Kansas on their next two tours, but in supportive roles.) The Christian connections didn't end there--one of the co-writers of the band's lead single, "Play the Game Tonight," Rob Frazier, was just starting his long career as a Contemporary Christian music, or CCM, performer.
All these Christians together had a significant impact on the lyrical direction of the album. "Fair Exchange" described the world under the rule of the Anti-Christ, while "Chasing Shadows" pointed out the frustration in seeking anything outside Biblical truth. "Diamonds and Pearls" emphasized the value of spiritual wealth over financial wealth, while "Face It", "Windows" and "Borderline" all had strong evangelistic appeals to the listener. The album's closer, "Crossfire," made the album's position abundantly clear in its direct reference to Jesus Christ ("the man who rose").
Vinyl Confessions did not go unnoticed by the nascent CCM industry, which was just coming into its own at that time. Numerous Christian magazines trumpeted Kansas' new musical direction, and CCM Magazine even chose Vinyl Confessions as the #1 CCM album of 1982. All this attention created an entirely new audience of listeners for Kansas, but it also created further tensions within the band, which would come to a head during the recording of their next album.
The album was also the last with violinist/vocalist/emcee Robby Steinhardt who would leave the band after the tour in support of Vinyl Confessions and would not return until 1997.
Singles - Billboard (North America)
|1982||"Play The Game Tonight"||Mainstream Rock||4|
|1982||"Play The Game Tonight"||Pop Singles||17|
|1982||"Right Away"||Mainstream Rock||33|
|1982||"Right Away"||Pop Singles||73|
|1982||"Chasing Shadows"||Mainstream Rock||54|