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Point of Know Return
Kansas

Kirshner KZ 34929
Released: September 1977
Chart Peak: #4
Weeks Charted: 51
Certified 3x Platinum: 11/24/86

Like the inflated balloon that whisked Dorothy and Toto into Oz, Kansas continues its heady ascent into the free space provided by the ever-expanding art-rock market. The key to success for this group is that it plays the same kind of music as Yes and Genesis, but its members are average mid-westerners instead of inaccessible British pop stars. This finally paid off with Kansas' fourth album, Leftoverture, which produced the band's first single, "Carry on Wayward Son."

Kansas - Point of Know Return
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.

Understandably, the followup tries to duplicate the hit formula: the songs are shorter, the hooks more condensed, the general sound more hard-rock oriented than since the first Kansas album. It seems to work, although the added songs only serve to stretch overextended lyric ideas even thinner. The pompous sentiment expressed in virtually all Kansas songs is a wan and ridiculous rehash of the bargain-basement exoticism employed by the British art-rock crowd. The band's strength is in the purposefulness of its ensemble playing, because there isn't a virtuoso soloist on board. Keyboardist Steve Walsh's Keith Emerson/Rick Wakeman imitations provide most of the single-line excitement, and his capsule presentation of the first Emerson, Lake & Palmer album, "The Spider," almost gets to the point where it sounds like there's something going on. But the whole thing is unsettling -- I have a feeling we're not in rock & roll.

- John Swenson, Rolling Stone, 1/12/78.

Bonus Reviews!

This six-man rock outfit that broke through with its last LP Leftoverture, a top five album, and hit single "Carry On, Wayward Son," follow up with a much tighter and consistent effort. The instrumental interludes and backing showcases the talents of each member. The generous use of percussion, strings, organ, synthesizer and vibes all fuse together to create a well-conceived, sophisticated, almost surrealistic, rock work. Tempos change from high energy rockers in the manner of "Wayward Son" to lyrical ballads to some lushly orchestrated instrumentals. The vocals remain tight throughout and a bit more disciplined. Best cuts: "Point Of Know Return," "Hopelessly Human," "Dust In The Wind," "Portrait (He Knew)," "Nobody's Home."

- Billboard, 1977.

Churning out ballads in abundance, these classically trained Midwestern icons, wizards who put the rock in art rock, solidified their status with this surprisingly commercial multiplatinum classic. The somber hit "Dust in the Wind" and the memorable title track are proof-positive of their unique sound. But less-enamored listeners lament the rest blends into obscurity. * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

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