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Kansas - Point Of Know Return CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 704 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Certainly the highest point in KANSAS' progressive flatlands is "Point of Know Return". True, one foot remains firmly caught in the musical trappings of their English forebears -- ELP, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT -- but that still leaves one free foot to take root in American soil via hard rock. This meeting of clever counterpoint and fist-pumping pomp may not be uniquely American (the UK boasted plenty of headbangers), but it did help make the prog scene more palatable to American youth raised on rock & roll. KERRY LIVGREN and STEVE WALSH alternate between dazzling their audience with busy arrangements and pummeling them with great rock riffs. In between it all is that sublime oasis of pseudo-philosophy, "Dust in the Wind", which became 1977's answer to ZEP's "Stairway". Point gets out of the gate quickly with the lively title track, a top 40 single that prominently features Robby Steinhardt's violin. KANSAS does have a tendency to throw too many notes at the listener in lieu of natural genius; sometimes it clicks ("The Spider", "Nobody's Home") and sometimes it clinks noisily to the ground ("Paradox"). Fortunately, KANSAS splits its eggs between Livgren's musical passages and Walsh's inclination to swagger; when the two aims meet, as on "Portrait (He Knew)", everybody's happy.

There are some who would give no quarter to KANSAS in the progressive rock pantheon of classic albums, others who may view the band in a constant state of grace, but I think it's objectively fair to call "Point of Know Return" a classic prog album. The genre appeared to have run its course by the late '70s, and bands like KANSAS were instrumental in discovering a viable middle ground between old and new, force and finesse. The two have rarely been better balanced than on "Point of Know Return".

daveconn | 4/5 |


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