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Kansas - Point Of Know Return CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 704 ratings

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3 stars The Kansas I have grown to love unfortunately is in the process of becoming a shadow (or a parody) of itself with this one. It's really a shame, because musically these guys were still in their absolute prime--this pales in comparison to their former albums in my eyes mostly because of the writing and lack of inspiration. Other reviewers have described this album as "by the numbers", and I couldn't agree more. It's still Kansas, so it's still well-played, and there are many excellent moments, but it also reflects a break from extended pieces, or even coherent strings of songs, that characterized their previous work.

Portrait, Lightning's Hand, Sparks of the Tempest. Kansas is doing fairly straightforward rock here, and they really don't do this as well as in the past. They don't rock as hard and the vocals don't have the same bite, although the instrumental sections are better than ever (wailing guitar, guitar/keyboard/violin harmony combos, quick switching between melodies). None are bad, but they fail to make a lasting impression.

Point of Know Return, Dust in the Wind. These have become classics for good reason: they are catchy and well-performed. The title track is some of Kansas' best--too bad they couldn't string more of this material together for an extended piece. Despite all the overplay and parody, Dust in the Wind remains a great tune.

Paradox, The Spider. These are definitely proggy, but it seems that Kansas is clearly keeping these moments separate from the other numbers, which can only mean that they were sacrificed a bit for sales purposes. By themselves, they seem a bit goofy and out of place--they would have fit well if extended or better interwoven, but I don't think you can turn prog on and off that quickly without losing some effectiveness.

Closet Chronicles, Hopelessly Human. These are the "extended" pieces, and they really pale in comparison to their predecessors. Even if you disliked some (or much) of the material on their previous albums, you could count on getting a great concluding epic with a powerful finale. Hopelessly Human doesn't deliver on these criteria (though it's certainly not a bad song by any means).

The cover art (and whole CD liner) is top-quality, which makes the music inside even more disappointing. Maybe Kansas is a victim of their early greatness, but it seems the prog well had begun to dry with this one. They certainly made more cash from this release, but they had to sacrifice some of their unique brand of prog in the process, which I think is a shame.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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