Kansas had a multitude of chart topping singles and LPs during the '70s. And were known for melding progressive rock with catchy twists and melodic hooks. However, this recording represents the band during the formative years, consisting of live and studio tracks. While the group’s founder and leader, guitarist Kerry Livgren lays it all out rather nicely in the liners.
The musicians’ midwestern roots presented a fish-out-of-water syndrome. Especially, when considering the period - and the band’s progressive rock style initiatives. With the opener titled “Hegemonium,” Dan Wright’s profoundly stated Hammond B-3 riffs and John Bolton’s electric sax work amid the ensemble’s stately unison lines spark notions of “Van Der Graaf Generator.” Throughout, the musicians shrewdly indulge in pleasantly neurotic, free form escapades and complex time signatures. They conjure up remembrances of the British Canterbury scene, thanks to Bolton’s whimsical flute passages on selected tracks!
The group also explores melodically shaded themes and jazzy methodologies, along with majestic choruses witnessed on “Incomudro,” and elsewhere. Overall, this recording presents a rather stunning (if somewhat unexpected) glimpse of early Kansas. The band’s ardent admirers should pick this one up. Otherwise, fans of the '70s progressive rock movement might reap some surprising benefits here. Recommended...