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

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Björk - Medúlla – For a supposed “pop” artist, Icelandic singer Björk has shown a stubborn disregard for the conventions of pop music. From the beginnings of her career as a techno diva, she has steadily pursued...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues