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

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dirty Projectors - The Getty Address – Dopamine on crutches flying straight to the heart of freak-folk Americana. Welcome to the song cycle of a cloth cut from the same material as Van Dyke Parks' most evangelized piece of work, updated...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues