The Best of Kansas is the first compilation album from the American progressive rock band Kansas. It was originally released in 1984, and featured one new track, "Perfect Lover", written by then-lead vocalist John Elefante and his brother Dino Elefante. The compilation was re-released in 1999 in a version supervised by the original band members, so "Perfect Lover" was dropped in favor of three additional tracks to make it fit on a single CD. Added were "The Pinnacle" from Masque, "The Devil Game" from Song for America, and a live track deleted from Two for the Show called "Closet Chronicles", originally from Point of Know Return. The album has sold over 4 million copies in the United States and was certified quadruple platinum in 2001.
The versions of "Carry On Wayward Son" and "The Wall" on the 1984 release of The Best of Kansas are specially remixed versions unique to the first version of this collection. For the 1999 reissue of the collection, the original 1976 mixes from the album Leftoverture are used instead. The removal of "Perfect Lover" which had previously been available only on this album, makes the track out of print in the United States. The original track listing and mixes were restored for the 2014 180-gram vinyl release of the album by Friday Music.
The album cover art, by artist Steve Carver, is a parody of Grant Wood's 1939 painting of the author Parson Weems pointing to the famous scene of George Washington and George's father inquiring after young George had just chopped down a cherry tree with his hatchet. The cover contains elements of nearly all previous Kansas album covers:
Kansas: Abolitionist John Brown, as portrayed in the John Steuart Curry mural Tragic Prelude. No tracks from the album appear on either version of The Best of Kansas.
Song for America: The bird depicted on the front cover of Song for America can be found on the back side, perched atop the track listing.
Masque: The outline of a fish appears in John Brown's beard. The "face" on the cover of Masque (Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Water) is composed of various marine life. No tracks from Masque appear on the 1984 release.
Leftoverture: The inkwell and scattered pages of sheet music appear on the back cover.
Two for the Show: The spotlights, stage, curtains, and figures in the audience are all indirect references; none of these things (besides an auditorium full of seats) are seen on Two for the Show. On the back cover, there is a mop behind the interrogation chair, which may reference to the cleaning ladies on the cover. No tracks from Two for the Show appear on the 1984 release.
Monolith: On the back cover, the moon behind a shadow of the figure depicted on Monolith is seen through the open door. No tracks from Monolith appear on either version of The Best of Kansas.
Audio-Visions: On the back cover, at the right side, one of the two hands on the front cover of Audio-Visions is holding the curtain.
Vinyl Confessions: The interrogation chair is seen under a spotlight on the back cover.
Drastic Measures: The black tux and red bow-tie worn by the bazooka 'player' are worn by John Brown here.