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Kansas

Point Of Know Return

Review by Gary Hill

If Leftoverture was the album that really broke Kansas, this was the one that thrust them into superstardom. The thing is, again they did it without sacrificing their progressive rock roots. This is really quite a great album and prog purists should be able to appreciate this. Sure it’s got the mega hit of all time “Dust in the Wind” on it, but it also has “Closet Chronicles.” I wouldn’t say that this is quite as consistent as Leftoverture, but it’s still very strong. I’d probably put this as the second “must have” disc in the Kansas catalog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Point Of Know Return
A great symphonic rock flourish starts this off and then they drop it back down for the first vocal section. This grows organically from there. This is one of the bigger hits the band had at the time and is one that most people have heard. There’s a classic (and classy) Kansas instrumental section in the midst of this ride. The bridge that follows it is quite dramatic.
Paradox

The extended instrumental introduction on this is quite cool. It fires off in a standard Kansas prog rock jam, but then shifts into a playful, slightly odd bit that reminds me a bit of Pentwater. They launch into the song proper and it’s a fast paced jam with a very catchy (and yet dramatic and powerful) vocal hook. This is a great piece of music with a number of interesting changes and alterations and one of my favorites from the band in general, let alone on this disc. There are some great violin dominated segments on this and a killer guitar solo.

The Spider
This instrumental is a killer. It wanders around one corner and then the next in a progressive rock journey that at times calls to mind ELP while still being trademark Kansas. This is another standout track on a disc that’s got plenty of them. It segues directly into the next piece.
Portrait (He Knew)

Coming up with a keyboard dominated grind that leads out of “The Spider,” this track was always a big hit, but also always one of my favorite Kansas tracks. Say what you like about this band, but they had a way of taking progressive rock music and building it around catchy vocal lines and making hits out of them. There’s plenty of great instrumental work throughout, but the main song section is a hard rocking, straightforward grind. The power house jam that closes this track is great – if a bit short.

Closet Chronicles
This is one of the most purely progressive rock oriented tracks Kansas ever did. While it isn’t the “hook you instantly” piece that a lot of the rest of the disc is, it’s one that gets under your skin and stays there. The comparisons to ELP are quite well deserved here. At times I also hear old school Genesis. Of course, this is still trademark Kansas and one of their more dynamic jams. If you’ve got a prog head you are trying to convince that Kansas deserves to be considered progressive rock first and foremost, play them this track. It’s right up there with anything any of the more obvious prog rock choices released. It’s a great piece of music.
Lightning's Hand

In many ways I’d say that this track, more than any other is the biggest influence Kansas had on the neo-prog movement – and for my money Kansas is one of the biggies in that trick bag. This is quite metallic and yet very neo-classical. I can hear a lot of Deep Purple on this (especially on a few of the instrumental segments), but still done as trademark Kansas. I could see someone having a reluctance to call this something other than progressive rock. Indeed it’s probably the closest to heavy metal the band ever got. It’s also a screaming track that’s very cool.

Dust In The Wind
Raise your hand if you’ve never heard this. Now, put your hand back down and shut off the computer because the monastery where you live obviously doesn’t allow contact with the modern world. It seems that pretty much everyone in Western society has probably heard this song. It’s a good balladic cut with classical elements. It’s just overplayed. In fact, it’s amazing how well it holds up despite that saturation.
Sparks Of The Tempest
There’s an almost R & B soulful texture to this track – with a Kansas flavor to it. The section that bursts out for the chorus is scorching, though. The rhythm is at times rather Latin. There’s some killer guitar work on this one, though.
Nobody's Home

A triumphant sounding prog rock introduction that’s quite symphonic leads this off and then it drops down to quite a mellow and balladic piece of music. This is a very evocative number and before it’s over they take us through a series of wonderful prog rock excursions. The closing fanfare is wondrous, but too short-lived.

Hopelessly Human
Here’s another that fits amongst the most pure progressive rock music on show here. This has a lot of varying segments, moving between powerful fury and delicate ballads. This is actually a great piece of music that’s one of the most dynamic ones here. I’m just inclined to think that perhaps one of the more instantly recognizable melodies might have made for a different disc closer. That said, this is a track that’s always been one of my favorites. There’s some old school Genesis here and there and also some ELP, but it’s all delivered with a flavor that’s decidedly Kansas. There are definitely some incredible instrumental passages on it.
 
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