Exposé Online banner

Proto-Kaw — Early Recordings from Kansas: 1971-1973
(Cuneiform Rune 171, 1972/2002, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-02-01

Early Recordings from Kansas: 1971-1973 Cover art

Kansas was pretty widely exposed back in the 70s, and while they were basically similar to other bands of the era, there was a hint of the progressive sound that appealed to many fans of more complex music. Little did we realize what lay in the band’s past. I was quite surprised by how unconventional this early incarnation of the band was. The songs, ranging from five to almost fourteen minutes in length, feature unusual structures and instrumentation, and often have extended improvisational sections. The line-up, with two sax / flute players and two keyboardists, is unlike the band’s later form, and lends this music an air of uniqueness. At times, the sound is reminiscent of early Van der Graaf Generator, though Lynn Meredith’s vocals tend to the higher register and lack Peter Hammill’s harshness. Songwriter / guitarist Kerry Livgren is not afraid to let the other players take front stage. John Bolton’s electric sax with various effects is a major distinguishing feature, along with the piano / organ interplay of Don Montre and Dan Wright. The main drawback is the lyrics, which tend to youthful profundity and over-dramatic fantasy, but are easily ignored for the music’s better qualities. The recording quality is surprisingly good, considering the age of the tapes, and it is truly fascinating to speculate what might have come to pass if this incarnation of Kansas had been successful instead laboring in obscurity, and how many other gems like this lurk in attics across the country.


Filed under: Archives, Issue 26, 2002 releases, 1972 recordings

Related artist(s): Proto-Kaw, Kansas

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Németh Gábor Project - Könnyü lépések (Easy Steps) – Németh is a Hungarian drummer and employs a large number of sidemen on this collection of ten tracks on the Periferic label. The music here is post-bop, or whatever one wishes to call music with a...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues