HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Proto-Kaw - Before Came After

Hard to believe - mainly because rusty oldsters are usually out of touch - but this is new work from a band that is essentially an early, pre-LP version of Kansas, the members having practically no contact in 30 years. Ambitious, dramatic, large, well-recorded and tastefully crafted, Before Came After features, overwhelmingly, Kansas mastermind Kerry Livgren on guitar, additional keyboards and all the writing as well as the organization of the band so it could soar as high as it does. Detailing like old school synths, B3, major CSNY vocal harmonies, saxes and flutes, and a plethora of guitar and percussion textures adds to the impressive prog rock display, Before Came After sounding very much like the most labyrinthine of early Kansas records, crossed with the modern sensibilities of Spock's Beard or Transatlantic, with a bit of rarified Grateful Dead from the last two studio albums thrown in for jam band swirlabout. Spiritually replenishing in that unnamable way that only '70s prog records can be - quite an accomplishment.
Rating 8.5

The Byron Band - Lost And Found

David Byron provides some of the greatest vocal performances of all time through the first half dozen or so Uriah Heep albums. Soon he would be ousted and then many painful years later, dead from drink. In between, he made some dreadful music with an assortment of ill-fitting bands. This two CD package captures some of that music, comprising demos, writing sessions and live stuff, well enough recorded but just rudderless, Byron caught in that brief period of time when a handful of acts, most notably Ian Gillan and David Coverdale (maybe even Joe Lynn Turner o'er in Fandango), were trying their hand at funky bluesy jazz fusions with bad smells. And man, half the time, this doesn't even sound like Byron; the range definitely isn't there either. Heepsters July Morning and a hilarious, Bowie-ish, sax-inflected Sweet Lorraine are trotted out in the fairly decent live set, but really, what you have here is a bonafide giant of a rock star lost in a smallish glassy-eyed musical void... Who are these guys? What am I doing here? Packaging notes: solid, detailed liner essay by Joe Geesin, annoying tendency by the label not to index the tracks properly.
Rating 4.5

Hard Reviews Page 4