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Early Recordings From Kansas 1971-73

23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 17, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Guitarist/songwriter Kerry Livgren recorded these tracks with a seven-piece band who the world would soon know as Kansas. NONE of these have been issued 'til now, though two of 'em- Belexes and Incomundro -would turn up as re-records on Kansas's first two LPs. A major find for Kansas fans!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cuneiform
  • ASIN: B00006IXGD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,060 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dean and Lisa Reid on December 26, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Unearthed from a cave in Kansas and released by (appropriately enough) Cuneiform Records, Proto Kaw resurrects an apparently dead art form - hardcore progressive rock - and links it to one of the few successful American prog acts of the late seventies. In this regard, it is much like the Rosetta Stone that opened up dead languages for study. But while the languages and histories the Rosetta Stone exposed were apocrophal and studied purely for academic purposes, Proto Kaw is actually a fine listen in its own rite.
These recordings have actually been around for years on the bootleg circuit. I've had mine for a decade (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). But they've been significanly least to the degree that one can clean up analog tape recorded on inexpensive, dusty equipment. Where the recording quality may be dubious at times, the musicianship and writing are rock solid.
While the Kansas we know and love was a very structured entity (thanks probably to Phil Ehart's determination and the great production values of Jeff Glimax), this earlier incarnation of Kansas was much more free-wheeling and its evident in such tunes as Nactolos 21 and Totus Nemesis (which lock in at 11:37 and 13:53, respectively). Some of the extended noodling on saxiphones (they had two in this band) is simply amazing. None the less they are able to get the job done in short order too, with a respectable version of Belexes (slightly more pedestrian than the version on their first album).
The historical value of the recording is in its ability to a. show where Kansas got some of its influences (Gentle Giant and King Crimson are worn on their sleeves) and b. show off early renditions of some of the signature licks the band has been known for.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This album is incredible. For progrock, it is one of the most exciting releases in years. If only this pre-Kansas band had access to pro-quality studios and engineers! The vocalist is excellent. The music is progrock all of the way. It's like a lost gem in the progrock world.
I'm not saying it is the missing link in progrock or anything like that, but surely, a true progrock fan will be very pleased to have this in their collection.
As for the production quality, it is most certainly decent enough to enjoy. Without a doubt. It is not top-notch pro-quality for early 70s standards, but it's not bad at all. It varies a little, but it is very good for a band that obviously was low on funds. Some aspects of the production are actually impressive.
They did a great job on the bass spectrum on this CD release. The music sounds full, making the demo-ish aspect of it seem less noticable than it might of...It is an enjoyable sonic experience...I find myself getting lost in the beautiful complexities of the melodies...
It is clear that the band spent time trying to make a decent sounding recording with limited resources. Their effort really shows.
In my opinion, this band draws more from Van Der Graaf Generator than King Crimson, although definitely, the KC influence is there. This band is not a carbon copy though, they have their own identity. They are unique. Their sound is original. They aren't ripping anybody off...nobody sounds like them...
These songs are very well played. You would never guess it was Kansas though. Well it is not...It doesn't even resemble Kansas actually, except for a few moments here and there. I love Kansas, but I also love VDGG and KC and this band is more like them. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W. Jr Kalendek on February 11, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I was not sure what to expect from this CD. This recording is a refreshing blast from the early 70's, with a sound reminding me of 60's fusion groups like Cactus and Blue Cheer. This recording has less of the musical discipline of the later Kansas group, but celebrates the freedom of improvisation. The sax in the group immediately reminded me of recordings with Frank Zappa and Napoleon Murphy Brock on sax. This CD is an acquired taste however. My wife, who is a Kansas freak, was a bit indifferent to it, mostly because of the vocals, but partially to the overall "weirdness" of the album. Definitely a really cool album to just sit back and listen to. It's interesting to note that for the most recent studio Kansas CD, "Somewhere to Elsewhere", Kerry pretty much lifted the bridge from "Reunion in the Mountains of Sarne" for the song "Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)".
Not for the more commercial oriented Kansas fan, but definitely a very cool addition to any CD collection.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dave Macfee on September 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I was 18 in 1972, and a huge fan of this band's music here in their home town of Topeka, Kansas. I was crushed when they split up and ever since, I have had little pieces of these songs running around in my mind and wishing somehow I could hear them again.
Wish granted! with the release of Proto Kaw, and it not only holds up to my expectation, it goes off the chart.
Obviously, buying this cd is a no-brainer for me or anyone familiar with this group of musicians.

I hope fans of the later Kansas band will jump on this as well, and enjoy this unique sound. I will guarantee it is nothing, if not different than the later Kansas sound. The sax of John Bolton is a major departure by itself, along with the keyboards of Dan Wright and Don Montre.
I don't pretend to be a recording enthusiast, but I think it is of amazing quality, given what there was to work with as Kerry described.
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Early Recordings From Kansas 1971-73
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