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Pig Newton & The Wizards From Kansas - Still in Kansas (1968/2003)



The Wizards from Kansas were an obscure country-psych rock group from Kansas. In 1968, four of the five original members (from the Kansas City area) formed a band called New West, and began playing in the Lawrence, Kansas area, at clubs and parties, near Kansas University. Guitarist Robert Manson Crain, from California, joined the group soon thereafter, expanding to a quintet. At that time, the guys were calling themselves "Pig Newton", then Pig Newton and the Wizards from Kansas. The name Pig Newton was apparently one of their inside jokes, however, as there was no one named Pig in the group. The band would often make up stories about Pig Newton to confuse people, according to Crain (whose songs, incidentally, are credited to either "C. Manson Roberts" or Mance Roberts). The five-man group played shows in the local area, and in the summer of 1969, toured the east coast. They were invited to play the Fillmore East in the fall of that year, a gig that led to them being offered a number of record deals, which they initially turned down. Finally, towards the end of the year, Mercury Records persuaded the band to sign a contract. The label reps did not like the "Pig" part of their name, however, and made the group drop it. Six months later, in July and August of 1970, the Wizards From Kansas recorded their eponymous debut album, The Wizards From Kansas, in San Francisco. The album was issued in October, but a week before its release, drummer Marc Caplan and bassist Bob Menadier decided that they'd rather play jazz instead of rock and left the band to pursue those interests. With no band to promote the record, Mercury lost interest and the album sank without a trace. The Wizards From Kansas disbanded shortly thereafter. (Incidentally, Marc Caplan is not the same Marc Caplan who was the lead vocalist in the Chicago-area garage rock combo Little Boy Blues). In 1993, the Afterglow label re-issued the band's long out-of-print album on CD for the first time. In 2002, the Texas-based Rockadelic label announced plans to reissue a vinyl-only release that promises to contain five songs from their Mercury album, along with previously-unreleased demos -- including a few recorded for Elektra -- and live tracks that were recorded in a church. ~ Bryan Thomas, All Music Guide

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