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Kansas Point of Know Return album cover
4.18 | 895 ratings | 69 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Point of Know Return (3:11)
2. Paradox (3:49)
3. The Spider (2:08)
4. Portrait (He Knew) (4:32)
5. Closet Chronicles (6:30)
6. Lightning Hand (4:21)
7. Dust in the Wind (3:26)
8. Sparks of the Tempest (4:15)
9. Nobody's Home (4:37)
10. Hopelessly Human (7:10)

Total Time 43:59

Bonus tracks on 2002 Epic remaster:
11. Sparks of the Tempest (live *) (5:18)
12. Portrait (He Knew) (remix) (4:50)

* Recorded at Merriweather Post Pavilion, MD

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Walsh / lead & backing vocals, organ, piano, celesta, synthesizer, vibes, percussion
- Rich Williams / acoustic & electric guitars, pedals
- Kerry Livgren / acoustic & electric guitars, piano, clavinet, synthesizer, percussion
- Robby Steinhardt / violins, viola, lead (6,8,10) & backing vocals
- Dave Hope / bass
- Phil Ehart / drums, chimes, timpani, percussion

Note: The album's performing credits listed one joke "instrument" for each band member, such as "chain-driven gong", "autogyro", "Rinaldo whistling machine", "Faucon lap cello", "Bemis bow pedal" and "Peabody chromatic inverter".

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Lloyd with Tom Drennon (art direction)

LP Kirshner - JZ 34929 (1977, US)
LP Kirshner - S KIR 82234 (1977, UK)

CD Kirshner ‎- ZK 34929 (1986, US)
CD Kirshner - CDEPC 32361 (1988, Europe)
CD Epic - EK 85387 (2002, US) Remastered by Darcy Proper with 2 bonus tracks previously unreleased

Numerous reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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KANSAS Point of Know Return ratings distribution

(895 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KANSAS Point of Know Return reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars rounded up to the upper star

Although this is the album that put the group on the international scene, mostly due to the Dust In The Wind single, POKR doesn't bear much resemblance to its predecessor, Leftoverture. Indeed this album returns more to the Masque blueprint, with a bunch of AOR radio-friendly tracks and a limited amount of longer more instrumental tracks, this time no-longer than 7 minutes. A stunning artwork graces its front cover, the same line-up and the same huge sound?. Could they have missed it? Well, some would think of their mega-hit Dust In The Wind as a sell-out, but although it doesn't sound like anything else of the band (on this album or another), it still remains the group's anthem and they never cheapened it to make a sound-alike either.

Opening on the popular hit title track, the album is obviously very commercial and very AOR-ish, despite some surprises like the short Spider, a keyboard extravaganza. Most of the tracks on the opening side are very conventional (even the longer Closet Chronicles) and personally I rarely ever spinned it, back when I had the album. The flipside not only contains DITW, but has the album-longest Hopelessly Human, just about the only place where the band let it rip (besides The Spider thing.), and we're again seeing the band that recorded SFA with its Yes-influence.

Definitely not as good as its predecessor, this has shorter songs and a top forty hit. Just kidding, but it was a disappointment for me (still is) and the start of a long fall, although most die-hard fans will swear up to the end of the next album, Monolith (I do too). Dust is a real must but totally out of the realm of this album, but its presence on the album saves it from being their worst 70's album.

Review by lor68
3 stars As usual it's difficult to label this album as a "progressive rock album", nevertheless for sure it's another classic one and it deserves a 3 stars and an half rating at least. The present classic album from this fertile band is a bit inferior than "Leftoverture", even though however is characterized by some memorable tracks such as "The Spider", the title track and "Nobody's Home", another sweet ballad. Finally- last but not least - the presence of a classic like "Sparks of the Tempest", often performed live,makes this album well worth checking out (it never minds if you don't like their hard rock stuff so much!!)
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars That's a brilliant album with some catchy symph-epic prog rock compositions. I think notably to the fast and furious heavy track "Lightning hand" which culminates the whole album. However we can regret the standardized pop rock songs & successful ballads (the acoustic "Dust in the wind"...) which are numerous contrary to the previous releases. It's the beginning of a huge commercial career for the band, it's also announces a period of decline (musically speaking).
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is still quite progressive, despite less than the previous ones. This is complex progressive hard rock. You can compare it to STYX, but it is more complex and progressive than STYX. The lead vocals are good and have the style "American FM hard rock". Keyboards, violin, guitars, bass and drums still do a quite good job. There is also the famous hit "Dust In The Wind" that was even played in the restaurants!
Review by daveconn
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".

Review by richardh
3 stars An ok set of songs with a few classics thrown in such as 'Dust In The Wind' and 'Closet Chronicles'.My overiding feeling though is that this is aimed at achieving radio airplay and the earlier prog approach is being unceremoniously dumped.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars IMHO - and I'm not alone at this - 'Point of Know Return' is Kansas' masterpiece. The sixsome manage to keep the cohesive sound and crucial energy they had already achieved in a level of perfection on its predecessor 'Leftoverture'. But as an issue of improvement, I find that Livgren's and Walsh's writing talents are not only intact, but at times even more inspired than ever before. Not only the compositions, but the arrangements are full of stunning creativity: it was actually the only way that the more concised tracks (all of them are under 8 minutes long, with only two surpassing the 6 minute mark) managed to keep up with and fulfill the pretentious demands of symph prog, while retaining that American flavour emanated from hard rock, country and electric blues that Kansas always was in touch with. The firs two tracks are fine examples of how Kansas managed to create songs full of interesting surprises in their melody lines and rhythm patterns, without going for the extended opus format (Well, GG did the same in 'Octopus', right?, and so did JT in 'War Child'...). The namesake opener is both joyful and clever, making a true statement of pleasant prog-country rock; 'Paradox' is an exercise on "hardened Gentle Giant" with a pertinent American-style rocking dose. Then comes the ELP-ish two minute pyrotechnical instrumental 'The Spider', which is a fiery tour-de- force that burns at white hot level: Walsh reaches one of his undisputable peaks as a composer here, also performing wild progressions and leads on organ, piano and synth i nalternating dialogues with the guitar and violin. The rhythm duo performs on a humanly impossible level as well. This track serves actually as an intro to 'Portrait', a catchy blues-oriented rock piece, that ends in a breathtaking climax (something that they would work out further on live renditions). Another burning track is the explosive 'Lightning's Hand' - a prog metal number "before its time" -, while in contrast, the prize for the most compelling manifesto of melancholy goes to 'Nobody's Home', a symphonic ballad concerning the fate of humankind and the palnet we live in. On this one, Steinhardt makes his violin literally mourn with all the amount of sadness that a human heart can hold. I've heard it many times since I first purchased this record, and I still cannot believe how a t hing can sound so full of human grief (... but it's real). 'Hopelessly Human' is one of the two opuses, dealing with Livgren's spiritual quests for essential truths (he was on the brink of becoming a Christian, but not yet...); but my fave opus is the other one, 'Closet Chronicles', which is more somber and dynamic, and shows the band's cohesiveness at its tightest level in this album. 'Sparks of the Tempest' is another hard rock tune, with a slight funky twist a-la Bolin-era Deep Purple, while 'Dust in the Wind'... well, who doesn't know this timeless beautiful acoustic ballad? Their most relevant commercial hit has been consistently mentioned by recurrent Kansas revilers who label them as a mere AOR band who could play prog now and then. All in all, Kansas don't have to apologize for having a worldwide hit single in their career nor for emphasizing the rock aspect of prog, and I certainly am not in position of doing that job for them either. I just enjoy 'Dust in the Wind' as what it is, a beautiful acoustic ballad... and I as well enjoy 'Point of Know Return' as a North American top achievement in the prog genre.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When I started to listen progressive rock in a serious way beck in 1976, used to feel I was born too late, never had the chance to see Gabriel singing Supper's Ready, the classic Yes Lineup with Bruford and Wakeman together or King Crimson with Greg Lake. All the records I bough were five or six years old, it was a bit sad to be a young kid living in the past.

But in 1978 things were different for the first time, I had the chance to go to USA and heard the song Point of Know Return in the radio which impressed me instantly, the mixture of folk violin with hard rock passages and a progressive spirit that was wonderful. But the best thing of all was that according to the radio the album was recently released , at last great music from my present, an album that I could proudly show to my prog' friends (who wereolder than me) saying "hey this is music from my time".

Went inmediately to the store and didn't had to ask about it because there was a poster with the fabulous art covet in the front door, so I bought it without listening any other track, hoping that the rest of the songs were at least barely similar to the one I heard on the radio, the only doubt I had was that obviously Kansas was a USA prog' band, a rare specie I never knew before that day.

At the first listen I became a Kansas fan, never cared when I read reviews accusing them of being Pompous Pop, AOR or American Copycats of British music, I was sure (and still I am) that they have an absolutely unique sound, that blends many styles an genres as only a few genius can.

Even after listening the previous and more progressive Kansas albums, I believe Point of Know Return is one of their peaks, people say Dust in the Wind is a poppy ballad which is partially truth (the lyrics are too obscure and pesimist to be considered commercial), but not many bands were able to create such a beautiful melody which only started to sound weak after it was overplayed in radio, but that's a different problem.

I always believed Point of Know Return is almost a concept album about depression because the band expresses their feelings about the futile aspect of life, songs like Closet Chronicles or Portrait (He Knew) are written in past tence to enhance the nostalgic feeling and the sense of emptyness left by death, Dust in the Wind is probably the most pesimistic track of the album, life has no meening, we're only dust in the wind and Hopelesly Human, well, the title says it all.

The music is outstanding and the album has a perfect balance, breathtaking tracks as Point of Know Return or Lightnings Hand or almost metal songs as Sparks in the Tempest are followed by sad and softer ones as the previously mentioned Dust in the Wind or Hopeleslly Human, a very powerful ballad with the complexity of symphonic prog.

The work of the Kansas members is outstanding, Phil Ehard is probably the most underrated drummer with an impecable and complete style who is complemented in the rythm section by Dave Hope, Steve Walsh is a competent keyboardist and in 1977 his voice was really good, Rich William's guitar solos are simply incredible.

But the powerof the band rests in the other two members Kerry Livegren who was one of the best composers of Progressive Rock History and Robbie Steindhardt who can make the listener almost cry with the sadnes and nostalgia that his wonderful violin creates. If any instrument represents Kansas it's the violin without doubt.

I know that earlier albums are more progressive or technically more complex, but Point of Know Return along with Leftoverture will remain as my favorites because the band never could express their feelings and share them with the listener better than in the late 70's.

Five stars for a real masterpiece of North American Progressive Rock.

Review by Muzikman
5 stars ''Point Of Know Return'' is considered to be the quintessential KANSAS album, and for good reason. It picked up where ''Letfoverture'' left off and refined their sound to become straightforward perfection. KANSAS simply couldn't have been any better after completing this celebrated progressive rock masterpiece. Sonically, there is no doubt that this is their best sounding album from their catalog.

To this day "Dust In The Wind," as simplistic as it is, seems to sound better every time you hear it, and the classic "Portrait (He Knew)" never sounded better with the new remastered sound. I noticed some major changes in regards to the entire musical picture that they painted. Robbie Steinhardt's violin and all the lead guitar parts are more clear, crisp, and dramatic, while the keyboards are more full and fluent than they ever were. A bonus is the two previously unreleased tracks, "Sparks Of The Tempest", which is a live, authoritative rendition of the song, and a remixed version of "Portrait (He Knew), which has some subtle but noticeable variations.

This was the best choice for their first remastered album, and being the 25th anniversary of its initial release makes it a little more special for the group and their fans. Let's hope that they go through their entire catalog and remaster it along with some more live and rare tracks to digest! They really outdid themselves by topping Leftoverture, and found themselves with so much success and pressure that they have never been able to reach those heights musically again. ''Somewhere To Elsewhere'', which was their recent reunion album, was excellent, but many of the original members returned to what they were doing once it was complete. In this case what once was can never be again, or should I say the point of know return?

I am glad that we are getting the opportunity to explore and enjoy their legacy once again through the wonders of the digital remastering process. I am most certain that old fans will be elated with this release and new fans will come onboard the prog-rock train for a ride that has been gaining momentum now for a few years. There would be no ride at all if it wasn't for the perseverance and heart of group's like KANSAS to succeed against all odds. They spun a tale that will continue forever, and this is just one chapter in the book they wrote.

I am "Hopelessly Human" at the hands of such magically captivating music.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was recommended to me by a musician who doesn't listen to prog himself, but he thought that this album might please me. Actually this is quite OK little album. The musicians of KANSAS are clearly strong songwriters, and I can't see how ballads like "Dust In The Wind" wouldn't get good positions even in the radio top-charts. The melodies are powerful and positive. As there's also lots of keyboards in their sound, so I guess fans of late 70's and early 80's RUSH might like this?
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Despite cutting down on the length of the pieces (8 out of the 10 tracks on this album are of radio friendly length) Kansas proved to be still capable of firing some heavy shots on this, the band's fifth studio album. Take the brilliant title track for example, it seems to condense all the strengths of prog in just 3 potent minutes ... helped no doubt by a marvellous chorus riff and one of Steve Walsh's strongest vocals ever. Paradox contains some great rapid-fire playing from Robbie Steinhardt (whose presence as a violinist wasn't sufficient on Leftoverture) as well as some really nice breaks and changes of pace. And then there's the 2-minute instrumental The Spider which is intense challenging prog that for some reason (probably the gorgeous use of keyboards) reminds me of ELP's Tarkus.

As for the non-prog moments, Nobody's Home is a piece that threatens to descend into pop balladry but keeps geeting saved by some great instrumental segments while the bluesy Portrait (He Knew) and the hard-rockin' Lightning's Hand aren't bad at all, although they probably belong in more orthodox hard rock territory. And, I'll be damned if The Sparks Of The Tempest ain't downright funky. Of course it's still Kansas through and through and the lyrical sensibilities are still remarkably relevant ... "Your future is managed and your freedom's a joke/You don't know the difference as you put on the yoke/The less that you know the more you fall into place/A cog in the wheel, there is no soul in your face".

Of the two lengthy pieces, the sweeping epic Closet Chronicles is mainly about fascinating lyrics and melody although the synth-led segment that kicks in on the 3-minute mark is no walk in the park. I actually prefer the closing track Hopelessly Human which I think is one of the alltime-great Kansas prog epics with a synth, violin and piano intro alone worth the price of admission. Steinhardt's violin moments during this song are really something, while the all-too-brief organ and Moog synth solos remind me of Rick Wakeman and Mannfred Mann respectively.

Oh, and there's the small matter of a beautiful song called Dust In The Wind. If you're too sophisticated or too unfeeling for this song to mean anything to you, then I feel I sorry for you. To me, it's the exclamation point on Kerry Livgren's greatness. ... 78% on the MPV scale

Review by Fishy
5 stars I don't believe there ever was an album which deserved its title more than this one. "Point of know return" shows the heyday of Kansas. Never before did the band sound so balanced, accessible & mature without losing their prog roots. The albums that were released after this record gradually showed a decline of musical quality and progressiveness. When compared to "Leftoverture" their breakthrough album from the previous year, this album is more accessible without any compromise on the musical front. Tracks like "Point of know return" or "Dust in the wind", their most popular tune, weave a mysterious web of emotion, wisdom & musical creativity. The moving "Dust in the wind" brought a whole new audience to the band. I suppose a lot of people turned out to be disappointed after having purchased this album for hearing more music like "Dust.". But this mysterious reverie is so gorgeous for Kansas or mainstream rock fans in general anyway. The folk influences which are apparent throughout the whole album come to the fore on this magnificent track. Only "nobody's home" shows an equal sense for melody. This is another example of inspired melodies in some sort of progressive ballad format where the orchestral sound is used to emphasis the most pompous moments.

The fruitful cooperation between Kerry Livgren & Steve Walsh must be the cause for making this album such a joy to listen to. Despite the previous album which was solely composed by Livgren, Walsh shares the credits for the song writing with Livgren. Possibly that explains why there's a harder edge to the music in exciting up-tempo progressive rock cuts as "Lightning's hand" or "Sparks of the tempest" which could explain the hard rock cult following that this band build up over the years. It can't be coincidence that these majestic rockers were sung by Steinhardt instead of Walsh. His powerful voice is more suitable for this kind of wild songs. But for prog fans nothing can top the complex, extended epics like "Closet chronicles" or "Hopelessly human". Those gems are full of inspired violin melodies, changing atmospheres & rhythms, unconventional chords and coloured keyboard sounds . The vocals add the necessary amount of emotion within the vocal lines, sometimes getting too close to pathos. The songs that I find the most exciting on this record are those powerful short energetic tracks like "Paradox", "The Spider","Portrait". You can hardly imagine there's so much music going on at the same time in less than 5 minutes. Those nervous tracks are retaining so much energy from the piano & keyboards and the rhythm section, sometimes it seems the band got in the studio with Keith Emerson. The atmospheres follow one another so rapidly it's getting hard to follow. These tracks are the reason why this album needs several spins to deliver enjoyment on a higher level.

Altogether a marvellous record that holds a perfect balance between accessible melodic rock tunes & musical creativity. For a long time I refused to believe this was an effort of an American prog bands, it sounds so damn European. Even though this album was released back in 1977, no signs of the coming decline of progressive rock can be traced and this album still sounds as timeless as when it was issued. Only the lyrics dealing with magicians and kings betray that this is very much a seventies prog record. Really, I can't decide which aspects of this record attracts me more : the subtle, lovely violin parts, the excellent melodies, the virtuoso musicianship, the technical compositions, the symphonic sound consisting of several guitar solo's, keyboards & violins all playing at the same time or the emotional vocals.

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars So far after reading past reviews, the overall feelings towards Kansas' Point Of Know Return are pretty lopsided in its favor. There were a couple that rated it around 3-3 out of 5 stars which really raises an eyebrow. Even if you don't like Kansas, how can anyone disregard PoKR's place in rock and roll history?

I would venture to say that this is more sonically balanced than Leftoverture (I haven't spun the latter in a while; but, Point just always seems to grab me by the throat). The title track is breathtaking, triumphant, and so full of spirit. A timeless classic that sounds better than most of the music churned out today spanning many genres.

And the great thing about Point is there are so many great songs that people have never heard, besides the faithful Wheatheads. "Point Of Know Return" and "Dust In The Wind" still get played (and even appearing in car commercials), but Point Of Know Retlurn is so much more than that. The vocal interaction betwseen Steinhardt and Walsh on "Sparks Of The Tempest" is a classic example of how well they worked together. I really miss Steinhardt's vocals on Audio-Visions.

"Paradox" is up there with the title track in terms of it's balance and the band showcasing everything in its arsenal. Walsh's vocals are especially strong. "Nobody's Home" is a beautiful ballad that exhibits the softer side of Kansas.

This is just one of those albums that never sounds old. Beautiful work from top to bottom.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was juggling between two albums on which one is better Kansas album: "Leftoverture" (1976) or "Point Of Know Return" (1977). And my decision and taste went for "Leftoverture" that's why I almost overlooked not putting my words with respect to "Point Of Know Return". Intrinsically, I know that's a matter of taste only putting "Leftoverture" better than "Point Of Know Return" while on musical terms both albums are masterpiece. This album is Kansas' best seller and it's probably due to the radio hit and overplayed radio station favorite "Dust In The Wind".

Am sure by the time I'm writing this review most of you have owned a copy of this album in any format: be it an LP, CD or remastered version. So why bother putting the review if all of you have owned it? It's for simple reason: to exchange views about this masterpiece work of Kansas. This album is probably accessible for most people, even though it features phenomenal playing, a bit complex arrangements, deep and meaningful (read: "religious") lyrics, soaring harmonies, heavy guitars, gorgeous symphonic melodies, and excellent production (done by Jeff Glixman). The memorable title track kicks off, with nautical theme accentuated by Robby Steinhardt's stunning violin work which has characterized Kansas music. Without Robby how can you tell it's Kansas music? Come on! "Paradox" is a song with dense and complex arrangements, but it remains cohesive and it has become live stage favorite of the band.

The instrumental "The Spider" provides a great combination of symphonic as well as hard-rock styles and brings wonderfully and smoothly to next track (my favorite) : "Portrait (He Knew)". Yeah, I like the story behind the writing of "Portrait (He Knew" in which this is about the genius man Albert Einstein. I especially like the harmony produced by this track. "Closet Chronicles" is an epic about yet another misunderstood, mysterious figure delivered with dense arrangements.

In "Sparks of the Tempest," Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh trade violin and lead vocals effectively that makes the album more enjoyable. "Nobody's Home" is a kind of musical break with majestic and melodic styles. The final track "Hopelessly Human" builds in intensity and ends the album on a high note.

Altogether with "Leftoverture" (1976), "Point of Know Return" is Kansas' essential album and a masterpiece of classic prog. Highly recommended. Of course you must have had this album in your precious prog collection and it's probably one of your favorite prog albums todate. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by NJprogfan
5 stars Out of all the radio hits Kansas has had, "Point Of No Return" is my favorite. A fast paced classic, its a fantastic opener. The next three, "Paradox", "The Spider", and "Portrait (He Knows)" are my favorite 1-2-3 tracks in a row by Kansas, each are totally different, but are unmistakenly Kansas. "Closet Chronicles" and "Hopelessly Human" are the most progressive and 'English-prog' sounding. For ballads you have the world famous "Dust In The Wind" and the lesser known "Nobody's Home", each come on the heels of boogie/prog songs "Lightning's Hand" and "Sparks Of The Tempest", two songs that scream USA-style prog. It's difficult to compare this to the previous milestone, "Leftoverture". With no songs clocking in over 10 minutes, some write this album off as the album that started the bands downward spiral. I disagree whole- heartedly. If you listen intently, they cram in more prog in 5 minute or shorter than most bands can ever try or imagine. Listen to "Paradox" for proof. I will say that at the end of the last song, "Hopelessly Human" bells toll; that to me, signals the end of an era for this band with the next studio album the beginning the spiralling. This album tho is as good as any they've ever done. 4.75 stars!
Review by ClemofNazareth
5 stars There is one thing about this album that sets it apart from nearly every other progressive work ever recorded: that is, with it the members of Kansas managed to achieve immortality. Despite the fact that the song has been so overplayed that most of us are sick of hearing it, “Dust in the Wind” is one of only a very small handful of progressive works that will still be being sung by people of all walks of life a hundred years from now – maybe five hundred years. You know it’s true – it’s like a box that, once opened can never again be closed (there’s a word for that…. it’s right on the tip of my tongue…. Ah, never mind).

Just the album cover alone is such a simple yet awesome statement – an old sailing ship teetering on the edge of an ancient and desolate world (in other words, a ‘flat’ one), about to dive full-length ahead into whatever lies beyond. There is a theme here, even if this is not specifically a concept album. It’s all about knowledge, and seeking, and discovery, and mysteries, and all written by a few guys who were simply trying to find their way through life in their chosen profession. There’s a simple beauty to this album that made a strong connection to millions of young people thirty years ago, on a scale few other progressive albums have managed to achieve. To-date, more than six million copies of this album have been sold, making it easily one of the ten or fifteen biggest- selling progressive works ever. And there’s a reason – each song speaks to someone in an incredibly personal way. There is not a throwaway or filler song on it. Every time I play it, it takes me to a place that nothing else ever did before, or probably will again.

“Point of Know Return” is a song about searching, and about taking those first fearful and tentative steps into the great unknown, whatever that unknown is for you. For some, that may be a spiritual journey of discovery. For others, maybe it’s striking out from home on the road to their destiny as childhood falls away into adulthood. For others, it may mean an intellectual quest, or an adventure. Maybe it’s marriage, or some other new relationship, or leaving a job or career for something new. Whatever that something is, this song speaks to that uniquely terrifying and yet undeniably seductive feeling one gets when they are on the brink of some new milestone in their life from which there is no turning back. I first heard this when I was sixteen years old, a time for many young men when life is nothing but new turns and new phases of discovery. Having been bitten with the meaning of this song, I can’t help but always hold it dear.

“Your father, he said he needs you; your mother, she said she loves you. Your brothers, they echo the words,

How far to the point of know return? Well, how long?”

In some ways “Paradox” is “Point” twenty years later. Steve Walsh and Kerry Livgren are telling us their own story of passing that point of know return, only to find another point just as mysterious ahead:

“I know there’s more than meets the eye, I’d like to see it before I die for sure.

Something tells me it’s alright – only one step farther to the door”.

The paradox is in that the yearning that leads to the search is the same element of humanity - that pretty much ensures the searching will never end.

“The Spider” is just a two minute orgy of sounds, a musical interlude that sets the stage for two powerfully insightful character sketches of two real men, both of whom knew that terrifying and seductive feeling that comes with stepping out into the unknown on a quest, and who discovered two starkly different new worlds beyond their point of know return. “Portrait (He Knew)” is a tribute to someone who had gone further in the search beyond what is in the realm of the known than almost anybody before or since – Albert Einstein, and who discovered worlds within worlds that have changed what we know forever. He brought all of us into a world of relativity, and found answers to questions that most of those before him never dared to even ask. But once again – the paradox, as Einstein could not escape the frailty of his humanness, and when his life was extinguished, nature reclaimed so many of the secrets he had uncovered (including the rumored solution to a unified field theory that puzzles physicists even today):

“He had a different idea, a glimpse of the master plan; he could see into the future, a true visionary man.

But there’s something he never told us, it died when he went away; if only he could have been with us, no telling what he might say”.

And a dramatically different story about Howard Hughes, who died shortly before this album was recorded. He also had tasted the nectar of the point of know return, as an adventurous aviator, entrepreneur, and inquisitive genius who amassed one of the largest personal fortunes in history, rubbed elbows with the most famous and powerful people of his day, and died lost in his own world of obsessive-compulsive and drug- addled madness:

“Once proud and full of passion, he fought because of man; many people loved his courage, many followed his command;

He changed the old into the new, and the course of things to come. and then one day they noticed - he was gone”.

“Lightning’s Hand” is the voice of the great and powerful Oz; God; the almighty Ra; the puppeteer who pulls our strings. This is an awesome and powerful experience that explores a myriad of climbs to musical crescendos, each one dashed back to the ground by the hand that controls the very skies. Robbie Steinhardt gives his most powerful vocal performance ever on a song that has long been mostly forgotten in the Kansas archives.

Out of this peak of powerful riffs, angry screaming violin and gruff and daunting voices, comes the quiet and pure voice of nature in “Dust in the Wind”. This is a song of resignation, of terribly personal reflection on what ‘it’ is all about, and a song that couldn’t be in more stark contrast to the one that preceded it:

“Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea; all we do crumbles to the ground ‘though we refuse to see”.

The “Sparks of the Tempest” signal the apocalypse, the fiery cataclysm when it all come crashing down. Rome is burning, the horsemen are galloping across the blood red skies – the knife blade gleams above your head. This is the march of evil and the spread of darkness, a tale written by trembling hands on a stormy night, and the darkest work on the album.

On the bloody morning after, one tin soldier… no wait – wrong song. “Nobody’s Home” is the mournful realization at the end of the journey that what was sought is not to be found. The ship has plunged over the abyss, the adventurer has withstood death and disease and destruction and danger, only to find the halls of the great beyond are empty. The implosion of the apocalypse, told in the previous song, has left nothing in it’s wake:

“A requiem was never sung, no elegy was read; no monument was carved in stone in memory of the dead.

For those who made this place do not remain, they feel no pain; a stranger fate was never known”. Nobody’s home.

In the end, of course, we’re all “Hopelessly Human”, and the search will go on regardless of the consequences. In some ways this album is a twisted version of the story of Scrooge, who was visited by three ghosts that revealed all in the past and future, the actions and their consequences to a man who was lurching full-tilt toward destruction because of his choices and actions. In “Hopelessly Human” we are faced with the realization that, when all is said and done, the blessing and curse of free will dictates that we will carry on anyway:

“They’re hopelessly human, both inside and out; a joyous occasion, there’s no reason to doubt.

When each word is read, would you know the difference – if nothing was said”.

Point of Know Return is so much more than just the pinnacle of commercial success for the band Kansas. It’s a stunning journey of the mind and the path of humankind, a treatise on the questions that burn within our souls, and the blank canvas that forms the framework for each of our lives. I think Kerry Livgren understood this, as did most of the other members of the band. Each followed their muse to their logical ends, and each life has been played out across a very public stage. What a journey!

Five stars, easily. This almost seems anti-climactic.


Review by WaywardSon
5 stars Strangely enough, I listen to this album much more than Leftoverture. I find it has much more variety (a little bit of everything for everyone)

It opens with "Point of Know Return" which really brings up images of old wooden ships sailing into the unknown! They used the word "Know" to play with people minds! "Paradox" has some great keyboards and bass. Dave Hope´s bass playing really stands out on these early Kansas albums. This whole album is made to be listened to on headphones and it gets better with every listen. "The Spider" shows what a true talent Steve Walsh was (and still is) in the prog world. Great keyboards! "Portrait (He Knew)" is a song about Albert Einstein and has nothing to do with Jesus. It really irritates me how people say all Kansas´s music is preachy, remember at this time Kerry Livgren was still searching, he only became a Christian on Audiovisions. "Coset Chronicles" is a song based roughly on Howard Hughs, or any recluse for that matter, again some incredible lyrics and musicianship. "Lightning´s Hand" speeds things up a bit and the band is quite tight on this song.

"Dust in the wind" needs no introduction. A song that crossed over onto the rock, country, adult contemp etc charts to become their biggest hit ever. In a hundred years from now most people will remember this song more than any other song talked about on Progarchives! "Sparks of the tempest" is a George Orwell type nightmare where "big brother is watching and he likes what he sees" "Nobody´s Home" is simply beautiful. It´s about someone coming to visit Earth but after the World has destroyed itself. A messenger coming to an abandoned planet. "Hopelessly Human" is another Livgren classic that leaves you in deep thought after the album has finished. A perfect Progressive album.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I am a very old Kansas fan (because of my age, but also because I discovered them in 1975) but I have some problems with this work. I really do not understand how this album could be rated so high here. Actually, it is considered as the best Kansas album ever (before my rating).

This one opens with the quite AOR "Point of Know Return". This number is not bad but it is far to reach the level of some previous great openers. Same feeling prevails with "Paradox" : a good rocking number with some nice intrumental sections, good rythm (drumming & bass) but not reaching the level of the historic Kansas songs although one of the good songs of this album.

"The Spider" is a short intrumental that starts almost like an ELP song. Since I am an ELP fan as well, there is nothing wrong here. It is not the first time I make this relation ("Magnus Opus" also had some ELP flavour). Only that it lacks a bit in personality, which is not usual for them. The short format of the songs is also a new feature for the band. So far, they always had developped some long songs with lots of rythm changes and crazy instrumental passages. In this album, there won't be anything close to that, unfortunately.

"Portrait (He Knew)" starts like one of their epic, but soon it reverts to a pure rock tune but sub-par while compared with others of this style although that it ends quite brilliantly.

"Closet Chronicles" is one of the (too) few highlight : some great instrumental moments (finally !) and some nice (too short) vocals at the end. It is still a deception because I am still waiting for the first real great moment on this album. Nothing like "Journey from Mariabronn" from their first release or "Incomudro - Hymn to the Atman" from Song For America. Just a few good rock songs but where is the Kansas trademark ? Almost gone...even if "Lightning's Hand" is another good hard-rock number.

Then comes "Dust In The Wind" : their first full acoustic number and most popular tune ever (it will peak at the sixth position in the US charts). It is a nice acoustic ballad but by no means should this track be a highlight on their first two albums. "Sparks of the Tempest" is a bizarre track : funky-hard-rock style for most of it but with a fantastic instrumental middle section. Rather unusual for Kansas.

"Nobody's Home" is not too bad either, but again nothing exceptional. Just a nice little rock ballad. The sole number that can compete with their classic is "Helplessly Human" : it is the longest song and it is full of fabulous intrumentals and vocals parts like we all love from Kansas. But we have reached the last track of the album to hear this very good song. Guitar work as well as keys are really great, and the background violin and piano are very subtle. A very nice piece of music.

Maybe that this was the point of no return for Kansas. On their behalf, it is also their fifth album within only three years... The weakest Kansas work so far IMO. Their elaborate and prog side is drifting away, Their most creative period (their first two albums) is behind, I'm afraid. This record is of course not bad, but Kansas had used us to better things. Two stars.

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I have been at PA now three years and never reviewed this most famous CD by one of my most favorite bands now in its 30th anniversary year. There a lot of words and stars assigned to this quadruple platinum selling album. 4 million, I mean that is staggering number of albums not that makes this album better becasue of that. Mostly what is said is it is 5 stars although some very obvious Kansas fans have rated as low as 2 so I hope I can add something that maybe was not said already.

Following up the equally successful Leftoverature Kansas was now not a struggling band trying to make it they were on top of the musical world when they went in to record this. Of course being on top brings its own set of pressures and problems. Like we need to make a song as strong or stronger(or more commercial if you like) than "Carry On" to satisfy the record company.

As "Carry On" was an add on at the last minute to LO so "Dust in Wind" was even more improbable to become a hit. First of all they had recorded only one other ballad so it was unique to them. It is also their only all acoustic song in their collection. Also the fact that it was originally a guitar exercise Rich Williams and Kerry Livgren used to warm up makes it even more improbable. This is the song people point to to criticize this album. Because A. it wasn't a prog song and B. it became the biggest hit Kansas ever did. It crossed over many genre lines for airplay and surely a song like that cannot be considered prog so it taints the whole rest of this album. If that is your opinion then you are going to miss out on some great music.

Kansas was at the top of their game both compositionally and at the peak of their playing prowess. On top of that they were now afforded the best recording studios. Added all together that can usually make one thing happen, a pretty fantastic album. That is what we have here. It's rock songs are certainly rock songs "Sparks of the Tempest", "Lightnings Hand", "Portrait" and "Point of Know Return" but they are great songs played with skill! Mix in those with prog tracks "Closet Chronicles", "Nobody's Home", "Paradox", "The Spider" and the great "Hopelessly Human" it is a most satisfying listen.

Sure some of the tracks are shorter by a minute or two than things they did in the past but they make up for it with such tight playing it is astonishing sometimes. Steve Walsh's voice would never be better than this and his keyboard playing had reached his peak. Kerry Livgren had grown as guitarist,keyboard player and writer, Robby Stienhardt's violin would never be more soulful and Rich Williams, Dave Hope and Phil Erhart drive the point home to you.

Rest assured this is "The Pinnacle" of Kansas success. Yes there would still be some good songs in the future but nothing again would be as cohesive. Soon Steve Walsh would start listening to the whispers that maybe he would be better off a solo rock singer and Kerry would finalize his conversion to Christianity and this band would never be the same again.

If you don't know Kansas this isn't a bad place to start. They really had an amazing journey from 1974-1977. 5 great albums in three years topped off by this one what a wonderful run. 5 Stars.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, here's just another enthousiastic reviewer, as the many this band has already inspired during their career and also thanks to this website. The story is simple. After having purchased the famous great classic "Leftoverture", almost everyone is forced to go on with his Kansas' discography. And, as a natural consequence, it often happens people put their hands on its acclaimed successor "Point of Know Return". This is my story also. Not very interesting, I admit it, neither intriguing. But the album is.

As I said in the previous comment I posted some months ago, the wonderful thing about Kansas is that I'm now (without any doubt) sure that they sound unique, as no one else do or did. Their american mood is not simply the icing on the cake or, worst, a misprint in prog. It's just their fabulous visiting card, a new dimension for prog that doesn't search for unfruitful comparisons, but for new formulas. This is what I feel whil I'm listening to this peculiar band and, oh yes, they are 100% prog their own US way!

From the album's anguishing cover to the building of the tracking list, there's a catching progression to musical excitement. The only weak point, if there is any (and I'm not very original to say that), is the lack of any other "Magnum Opus". In fact the album is based on 10 more shorter and conventional (as for running time) tunes, despite only some little extended performances as in the closing part of each side: "Closet Cronicles" for side A (6,31 mns) and "Hopelessly Human" for side B (7,17).

Apart from the big-selling glory "Dust in the Wind" with amazing acoustic guitar's and violin's interplay (this song is a real gem), the general mood goes symphonic: sometimes it's tingued with that "mainstream" rock from beyond the Atlantic ocean; other times is the most intriguing prog I've listened to lately. I'm thinking, for example, to the opener "Point of Know Return" and the "sparkling" "Sparks in the Tempest"on one hand. And to the fast tempo "Paradox" and "The Spider", on the other hand. Great, with some light ELP's and Yes' references.

If you're not interested in complex, brutal and avantguard prog, this album is certainly worthy of special attention. Wonderful music.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Still strong

An album that could be listened to all the way through without a problem. Crisp, clear production, and superb songwriting are put together to make almost a masterpiece. Yet not as good as Leftoverture, we have here shorter pieces, but this is not a problem, the progressive elements are all over teh album.Sure some of the tracks are shorter by a minute or two than things they did in the past but they make up for it with such tight playing it is astonishing sometimes. As you can expect this is another milestone in Kansas careere, and why not one of the top albums of the '70. So, the best tracks are Point of know return, Paradox the superb instrumental Spider and Closet chronicles. 4 stars, recommended.

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars I discovered Kansas during the Leftoverture era because of the wonderful cover paintings. I started to build up my Kansas collection with the two first albums and just when I had bought all their albums, Kansas released this 'breakthrough' LP. Suddenly Kansas was worldwide on the radio with the mellow hitsingle Dust In The Wind so in fact the title of this album matched perfectly with the situation in those days, commercially and musically: Kansas became a 'stadium rock act' that sold million albums and their sound turned into more polished. On this album you can enjoy the exciting Holy Trinity of the classical violin, the symphonic vintage keyboard sound and the harder-edged guitar work in compositions that blend in a very tasteful way progressive pop, rock, classical and symphonic prog: the catchy and propulsive i Point Of Know Return, Lightning Hand and Sparks Of The Tempest (powerful Hammond and biting guitar), dreamy in Dust In The Wind (warm acoustic guitar and violin) and Nobody's Home (beautiful classical piano and violin) and alternating and dynamic in Closet Chonicles (a big hand for the vintage keyboards) and Hopelessly Human (lots of shifting moods, strong violin work and sensational soli on keyboards and guitar), the most impressive progrock efforts on Point Of Know Return. My rating: a solid four stars for an unique sound in progrock history!

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars With apologies to amyone who thinks Leftoverture is Kansas best album, Point Of Known Return is really the american prog rockers at their very peak. It´s amazing how this band could deliver such brilliant work in the middle of a great crisis, when Steve Walsh almost left the band. Well, in the end it turned out to be their most perfect album: only very strong material and not a single note wasted. And, to me at least, included in the package are the first prog metal songs I ever heard. I think tunes like The Lightning Hand, Portrait (He Knew) and Sparks Of The Tempest were the blue print for many future prog metal classics (no wonder Blind Gardian´s Hansi Kürsch cites Point Of Known Return as his favourite album). The balance of heavy guitars with prog keyboards, classical violin and american harmony vocals was an amazing novelty at the time.

Point Of Known Return is the most brilliant album ever produced by this band and a great showcase of their talents. I still think Kansas is much underrated by both prog and rock circles. If you´re new to this group, start with this album and discover how ahead of the times they were! The album is much more than just the title track and Dust In The Wind.

A masterpiece of prog music that still sounds fresh and exciting 30 years after its release. A classic!

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Certainly strong and entertaining, with the band's big trademark sound performing well throughout, but with little changes in formula or experimentation-- these songs could have easily fit alongside anything in their previous album. Fortunately, that means that the listener will be treated to an occasionally brilliant show of complex composition, melodic rockers, and smart lyrics; they'll even hear the "other" Kansas song-- "Dust in the Wind", which seems to divide as much as it pleases fans. A good purchase for those who enjoy the band's sound, but don't expect to rock as hard, or as artistically as on "Leftoverture".
Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
3 stars Disclaimer: I don't like Kansas. Not at all. I once had a rooommate who played them incessantly, so I am all to familiar with their musical stylings, and still amazed that this roommate failed to notice that Peter Gabriel's solo work was far superior to anything Kansas has ever done.

That said, I'm giving Point of Know Return three stars. It's good. There are very few points on this album that make me want to retch (a characteristic that it shares only with Leftoverture) and there are a couple really, really good songs here (which even Leftoverture can't say.) So if for some crazy reason you are interested in getting into Kansas, this is the place to start (and end) your musical exploration.

Then go out and check out the Gabe's third solo album. You can thank me for that advice later.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Kansas second best effort ( nothing beats Leftoverture) is a great record, which shows that even though there are no epic songs on the album, the short song structure that is being used are more than enough.

Most songs on Point of Know Return are great songs. Real classics. Songs like: Point of Know Return, Paradox, Portrait ( He Knew) and Dust in the Wind. Other standout tracks are Spider and Closet Chronicles.

There are some lowpoints on Point of Know Return though as songs like Lightning´s Hand and Sparks of the Tempest are not as good as the rest of the material being in a more hard rock vein.

Point of Know Return is a classic album and one of the best Kansas have made. Go buy this one if you haven´t already.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars POKR is almost as good as Left Overture but sadly lacks that same edge as it's predecessor. Looking back on the Kansas releases they still rank as up there with some of the best USA prog bands for the era. Much better IMO than the likes of Styx who are also featured on this site. Although the songs are shorter overall side one for me is the better half on this album with the title track an excellent track. Portrait ( He Knew) is another good one as is ' Dust in the Wind. For me the concept albums were still there and the cover art also lended some class! Borderline three stars.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
5 stars Kansas' magnum opus

Point Of Know Return is my favourite Kansas album and one of my favourite records of all time. The previous Leftoverture album was already a masterpiece, but with Point Of Know Return the band reached perfection. I just love everything about this album!

Kerry Livgren is such an incredible songwriter and some of his very best songs are on this album. The songs are full of urgency and emotion and there is a great flow from one song to another, listen for example to how the busy The Spider continues seamlessly into Portrait (He Knew). The variation is another aspect of this album that I really like. The whole creative range of the band is wonderfully represented here. This is well exemplified by how the reflective Dust In The Wind sits perfectly between the albums two most hard edged songs Lightning's Hand and Sparks Of The Tempest.

Kansas best and an absolute masterpiece of progressive Rock

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars More than simple dust in the wind...

After the acclaimed Leftoverture Kansas decided that they'd found a good niche. Following up the album was going to be somewhat difficult to do as well, considering the massive success that they'd found with their hit Carry On Wayward Son and their continued experimentation with pure symphonic prog as on their magnum opus, Magnum Opus. The result is an album that is vastly the same and yet somehow different from its predecessor. Highly melodic and catchy with some very memorable moments including another gargantuan hit song and another attempt at the pseudo-epic coming into the last tracks. As often advertised on the front of their albums, this is symphonic prog by the likes of Yes done American style. The guitars are frontwards as are the balls-in-a-vice vocals, although the standard progressive attack on keyboards is still present. A nice 'American' touch to the music is the fact that you really can feel this coming from what culture the Americas do have, their melodies and violin segments are quite distinct. Such is life though, as the British drive on one side of the road and Americans the other, the British did symphonic prog one way and the Americans another.

In general the tracks on their own stand out less than on the previous album. They still rock and they all still have a considerable amount of charm, but nothing has quite the same effect as the previous album had. Point Of Know Return, the title cut, has some fun instrumental sections and some fast keys with high-pitched violin sections throughout and the vocals have a nice melody to them that makes it rather catchy, but the song is criminally short and it soon moves on. Still, it makes for a pleasant track as does the rocking Paradox, which is launched by a military-like charge on the violins. Portrait (He Knew) has a very catchy chorus which actually makes for one of the few songs that sticks in your head right off the first listen in its dramatic delivery and keyboards.

The best songs on the albums are the ones that come off as incredibly slick and 'cool'. Prime example of this, and likely the best cut off the album is a malevolent and absolutely killer Lightnings Hand which showcases that Kansas was able to build storm clouds above the listener as any of the giants (such as VdGG or King Crimson) were able to do. The album's longest track, Hopelessly Human is also great in this regard, its emotional buildup makes for a satisfying lengthy cut, which while it is no magnum opus, still makes for a great listen. The album's short extension onto Paradox, the instrumental The Spider led by killer keyboard lines and a strong bass makes for another standout cut, this one grabbing the audience right by the(...) hair and pulling them into the song.

And then there's Dust In The Wind. Like so many other rock songs from the 70s that gain commercial appeal, this one can be found in advertisements, on the radio, and on the porches of women with heart-broken men trying to serenade them back all playing this song. It's a tear-jerking ballad the likes of which the music industry has seen plenty, but still clamor for more of. An acoustic and pretty song, it still makes for a nice listen - although not in a symphonic epic kind of way, lordy no.

Kansas really knew what people expected from them at this point and were able to deliver a satisfying album. This one will leave fans and casual listeners wanting more, but may leave others out in the cold. Still, there's something for everyone, whether it be the rockers, the dramatic mini-epics or the ballad tracks. 3 stars out of 5 for a good album, but people unfamiliar with the band should probably go one album back in the band's discography.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Kansas had scored a commercial home run with their previous release, despite it being a progressive rock masterpiece. The question was not only if they could do it again, but if they could do it again with yet another progressive rock album. Here they proved that they could, even during increasing turmoil within the band. Lead singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh had left, only to have the rest of the band members talk him back into the project. His return would not be a permanent one, however. This album is the last in a string of wonderful masterpieces of progressive rock, and would have been Kansas's last, were it not for an unexpected reunion at the turn of the century.

"Point of Know Return" Cheerful and energetic, the title song was another minor hit that received decent radio airplay. There is a lively introduction played on the organ, bass, and drums. The verses work over simple piano chords, but the organ and violin play a major role throughout the chorus. The bridge has a bit of flair and is worked into the song quite well, showcasing Walsh's clear tenor voice.

"Paradox" Certainly one of Kansas's best short tracks, "Paradox" demonstrates the bands mastery over short but extremely dynamic progressive rock songs. The introduction is fast-paced, full of hammering organ chords and an almost chromatic run up and down the keyboard. The lyrics represent Kerry Livgren's ever-changing spirituality, and he claims he feels like he's "been everywhere before," but that "there surely must be more." The instrumental section has a great bass line, exciting violin playing, and a decent guitar solo (Williams develops this solo much more live). Under four minutes, this song is a concise vehicle for what makes Kansas stand tall in the annals of progressive rock history.

"The Spider" In two minutes, Steve Walsh angers us by demonstrating exactly what he is capable of as a keyboardist and as a composer. Were it not in his heart to hunt commercial success as a mainstream rock artist, we might have more amazing pieces like this. This instrumental spirals into different time signatures and morphs into various things before serving as a segue to the next song. The music moves menacingly, like the creature mentioned in the title.

"Portrait (He Knew)" This is yet another example Kansas gives us that proves a song doesn't have to be over ten minutes long to have changing riffs or a complex structure. The music during the singing isn't multifaceted; in fact, it's extremely simple. It's the music everywhere else that is well structured with a tight progression. The lyrics are a portrait of Albert Einstein (and not of Jesus Christ, as some have believed- that would be Livgren's "Portrait II"). The guitar riff used for the soloing is yet another original riff by the master Kerry Livgren, which is used again at the end of the song, only twice as fast.

"Closet Chronicles" This is another "portrait," so to speak, this time of Howard Hughes. The lyrics are deliberately arcane, sung over a lone organ initially, before the whole band enters. The quiet section after the verses still has Walsh singing quite emotionally, before handing over the microphone to Steinhardt for a bit. The instrumental middle part is pretentious, perhaps a musical representation of Hughes's grandiose eccentricities.

"Lightning's Hand" Fast-paced and guitar-driven, and with Steinhardt taking the lead vocals, "Lightning's Hand" is a decent enough rocker. The chord progression during the verse reminds me of "Belexis" in some ways. The middle section tends to be a little disjointed, but it's full of energy and does a good job of showing off Kansas's skill as musicians. In the end, there is a short hearkening back to one of the riffs in "Carry On Wayward Son." This is definitely one of Steinhardt's most theatrical vocal performance.

"Dust in the Wind" Kerry Livgren wrote this as a finger picking exercise, and while he was playing it, his wife commented that it was pretty, and that he should write words to it. Livgren had no intention of having Kansas perform this, but they recorded it, and Kansas had yet another major hit on the radio. It is beautiful, but poignant; the song serves as a reminder that once we are gone, we are no longer a part of this earth, and no amount of money or prestige can stop the fact that our mortality is a commonality among us all.

"Sparks of the Tempest" This is a weird fusion of funk and rock, and if the lyrics were about lust of some sort, the song could have passed for something from Foreigner. The ending uses a 4/4 time signature, but goes about it in a peculiar manner. Though not awful by any means, this is easily the weakest track on the album.

"Nobody's Home" The lyrics of this song imagine an extraterrestrial being who has come to Earth to teach and learn, only to find that because of our own self-destructive behavior, there was "nobody home." It manages to be pretty and sad at the same time, but is a little bland. Lyrically, it's a weaker version of "Watcher of the Skies" by Genesis.

"Hopelessly Human" Point of Know Return concludes with the best track on the album. It is tightly orchestrated, and stands along with "Journey from Mariabronn," "Apercu," and "No One Together" as one of Kansas's most progressive and overlooked pieces. Kansas does everything they do best in this one seven-minute song: Steinhardt and Walsh trading off on lead vocals, quiet violin passages giving away to full-blown rock and roll, organ and keyboard soloing, and thought-provoking lyrics.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Kansas is one of my favorite bands in the Prog scene. I always felt amazed by their musicianship and how they were able to mix Hard Rock and Symphonic Rock in such an easy and unique way.

My first Kansas album was Leftoverture (1976) and it was instantaneously sucked into my conscience! Such a great epic album from beginning to end. After a year or so of Leftoverture (1976) constantly listening I was walking around a record shop and I've found a CD reedition of their next album, Point Of Know Return (1977). It was a cheap deal so I bought immediately. As soon as I get home I went to the Stereo to listen to the album. Booklets in hands and ready to be amazed by the band's music. I have to say that I was disappointed. The album was absolutely great, but for some reason it didn't click with me. I refused to believe that the band I really liked released a bad album so I kept listening and listening.

That was the key, it turned out that Point Of Know Return (1977) was great as their previous effort!

The title-track and 'Closet Chronicles' are band's absolutely classics, not just that, they have their first really big hit with 'Dust In The Wind'. To complete we have 'Lightning's Hand' sung by Rob Steinhardt, he's one of my favorite singers and this song is just amazing. Another highlight is 'Hopelessly Human' with its epic feeling.

Resuming, the band was on its peak and it's easy to see why! Go for it without any hesitation.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars LEFTOVERTURE pretty much marked a new direction for Kansas as they were trading in the esoteric epics and spellbinding musical performances for more radio-friendly tunes and more commercial success. POINT OF KNOW RETURN continues searching for more radio success. Those who are diehard supporters of Kansas's prog period ought to start worrying as while the prog is not completely cast aside, the prog elements are appearing less and less here.

The title track has its complexities and nautical references, and I would consider it a highlight down to the catchy chorus. ''Portrait'', ''Lightning's Hand'' and ''Sparks of the Tempest'' mine more straight hard rock territories also appearing as highlights as Kansas has done this music well before. ''The Spider'' is a jaunting instrumental that while a bit technically overblown, is still entertaining.

When we get to the epic pieces (''Hopelessly Human'' and ''Closet Chronicles''), Kansas seems to have lost something. Both epics are terribly clumsy and go through a barrage of themes without much cohesion. ''Paradox'' also suffers from being so awkward and containing some of the most irritating vocal lines in Steve Walsh's career. Ballads have rarely worked on Kansas albums before, and ''Dust in the Wind'' and ''Nobody's Home'' are two of the soppiest things from any band.

POINT OF KNOW RETURN is a great rock album with prog elements, but it's awkward and clumsy as a prog album. The earlier period of Kansas is more suited to the prog fan than this, and it's better to get POINT OF KNOW RETURN after a few earlier classics.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Second album from the "perfect pair". Almost as good as "Leftoverture" .Contains Kansas visit card for years - acoustic ballad "Dust In The Wind".

Musically very similar to predescesor, has a little shorter songs, less instrumental music. In fact the same mix of european symphonic prog and early american AOR, very multitextured, with perfect melodies and very bright songs.

Both together with "Leftoverture" are the best Kansas works and classic american progresive fund. When compared with "Leftoverture" , I will prefer "Leftoverture" , but that is the difference between very good and perfect.

Must for all prog rock fans - one of the cornerstone of US progresive.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Almost as good as the previous album, Leftoverture, this album is the last great studio album by Kansas. Despite an extremely (maybe even overly) slick production, they manage to pump out an album full of great prog tunes. And Dust In The Wind.

Some songs on this album are fantastic, like Paradox, The Spider, which happens to be Steve Walsh's best song ever, and Prtrait (He Knew). Some are just very good prog, like Point Of Know Return and Closet Chronicles. Even the rockers, Lightning's Hand and Sparks Of The Tempest are better than the usual Kansas rockers.

The only down points are the aforementioned Dust In The Wind and the maudlin Nobody's Home.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kansas continued the trail of excellence with Point Of Know Return and even scored their biggest hit yet!

The period between 1976 and 78 was simply a time where Kansas could do no wrong. Even though this release was, once again, moving towards a shorter song format it didn't reflect on the quality of its material. I might have some issues with Sparks Of The Tempest but it's not nearly as bad as the filler material off the first three albums so don't look at it as too much of a hazard.

The album kicks off on an excellent streak of songs with the album's title track and Paradox taking the lead. These tunes might not be as commercially appealing as Carry On Wayward Son but feature enough great moments to make them pleasant for my ears. Lightning Hand is an pretty weird tune that cuts through the fine-tuned atmosphere that was created by Closet Chronicles and takes the music into Hard Rock territory that I honestly didn't expect from Kansas. My initial reaction to this composition was negative but it has grown on me over the years and listening to it today brings a nostalgic smile on my face.

Dust In The Wind has never really been a favorite of mine. Even though I don't necessarily hate it, there's just nothing about it that makes me all that enthusiastic and since I'm used to hearing it in this album's setting I always expect to hear the lesser followup in the shape of Sparks Of The Tempest. Finally the two low key moments that conclude the album are quite excellent. Nobody's Home brings a feeling of artificial nostalgia that might not appeal to me too much, but I can still understand if others enjoy it. Hopelessly Human is on the other side of that spectrum, a masterful piece of symphonic music that should be experienced by all fans of the genre!

Point Of Know Return is one of those albums that could only have been made by a band on the top of their career. It's not necessarily as tightly comprised as Leftoverture but the material still manages to work and when the compositions succeed, they succeed all the way! A great achievement for Kansas and an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

***** star songs: Point Of Know Return (3:11) Paradox (3:49) Closet Chronicles (6:30) Hopelessly Human (7:10)

**** star songs: The Spider (2:08) Portrait (He Knew) (4:32) Lightning Hand (4:21) Dust In The Wind (3:26) Nobody's Home (4:37)

*** star songs: Sparks Of The Tempest (4:15)

Review by colorofmoney91
2 stars First of all, the name of this album always bothered me. I hate seeing "know" where "no" should be, and this being a band highly influenced by American country rock while being so popular, that intentional grammatical mistake seems self-depreciating. But anyway, Point of Know Return is probably Kansas' most successful album, from the wildly successful title track and the classic radio hit "Dust In the Wind" to the fact that all of the tracks are of reasonable popular length. Unfortunately, this album marks the period where their music would take a turn for the poppier. It's not bad music, but isn't anywhere as interesting as their previous albums. All of the previous Kansas elements are still present here, but everything seems simpler and made for airplay, which is something that would be emphasized in their next album.
Review by stefro
3 stars The American outfit's most significant release, both commercially and historically, 'Point Of Know Return' would mark the end of Kansas' 1970s progressive phase, in the process selling millions of copies and giving the group their biggest hit to date. Like many of their contemporaries, the 1980s would see Kansas start to to pursue a more mainstream direction, a transition begun on this 1977 album and confirmed by follow-up 'Monolith', yet they wouldn't entirely dispense with the experimental art-rock flourishes that gives their music such a distinctive sound. However, 'Point Of Know Return' is considered by many as their last truly progressive effort, sharing a similar sonic scope with previous albums 'Song For America', 'Masque' and 'Leftoverture'. This time round, though, the English prog influences seem less pronounced. Kansas' sound always seemed like some kind of unique hybrid between fellow countrymen's Journey's mid-seventies classic rock style and the bouncy, symphonic progressive rock of Yes, only with a rootsy charm delivered by the violin of Robby Steinhardt. Here, the music is, for the whole, much more rock-based, with an emphasis on slicker production values and emotive balladry. The occasional musical detour into more arty areas shows that Kansas haven't entirely eschewed their progressive past - final track 'Hopelessly Human' sees to that - yet when compared to their previous albums 'Point Of Know Return' does seem rather lightweight. The end of an impressive era, this fifth album still has much to recommend, both to fans of AOR and prog, yet ultimately it's a step in the wrong direction.


Review by Chicapah
4 stars In 1976, via their outstanding "Leftoverture" album, Kansas officially arrived. Now their objective changed to staying there. And, as most successful groups will testify, that feat is usually harder than it would appear to be on the surface. Massive record sales, chart-topping singles and widespread adulation are all welcome but the baggage that comes along with those things, not unlike the fine print at the bottom of a lucrative contract, can disrupt and contaminate the family dynamic in much the same way that a despicable virus can cause havoc in even the most well-designed of software. In the case of Kansas, it was the individual egos of a few of the band members that grew to be oversized and corruptible. The two most visible stars of the show were keyboardist/vocalist Steve Walsh (he later admitted to being an incorrigible prima donna in those days) and guitarist/principal songwriter Kerry Livgren. Their volatile, competitive relationship became so antagonistic during the sessions for the much-anticipated follow-up record that at one point Steve left the fold in a huff. In retrospect these spats look petty and childish but at the time they were EVERYTHING. Fortunately, cooler heads managed to prevail, convincing him that it was in his own best interest to kiss and make up with the crew so the album could get done. With that in mind it's a wonder that the record is as good as it is. Many fans feel that "Point of Know Return" is their finest hour but I sense a tension in the tracks that I don't detect on "Leftoverture" and for that reason alone I don't enjoy it as much.

I surmise that Livgren's prominence as the group's central tunesmith had a lot to do with the strife that arose between him and Walsh (even though they often shared writing credits). But the fact that the album's namesake song and opener was composed by Steve, violinist Robby Steinhardt and drummer Phil Ehart tells me that perhaps the number was one of the items in the box of carrots used to lure Mr. Walsh back into the conclave. While not as arresting and challenging as "Carry On Wayward Son" was a year earlier, it still functioned quite well as a fitting sequel to that breakthrough hit, climbing to the #28 spot on the Hot 100 chart in short order and giving the LP vital radio exposure. The tune benefits greatly from Steve's stinging vocal chops and Steinhardt's crisp violin lines. An adventurous instrumental intro graces the beginning of "Paradox," leading to its intense, engaging verse/chorus sections. The complex middle movement is appropriately tight and keeps the momentum running strong, as well. Steve's "The Spider" is an aggressive song emitting a heavy Emerson, Lake & Palmer aroma due in no small part to Walsh's exemplary performance on the Hammond B3 organ throughout. The track then segues into what may be the apex of the album, "Portrait (He Knew)," a proggy piece about Albert Einstein. The number soars over a rocking shuffle undertow as powerful as an ocean current and once again it's Walsh's superb singing acumen that separated the band from the pretenders that surrounded them. The arrangement possesses a stately mien and it also highlights how blessed Kansas was to have a drummer as impressive and talented as Ehart. He constantly pushes the group forward with relentless precision.

If they'd been able to maintain the level of proficiency established by those first four cuts then they may well have had another masterpiece on their hands but that's not how things unfolded. "Closet Chronicles" is a very ambitious, multi-faceted semi epic that's too uneven in places to be as cohesive as it needed to be in order to develop into what they were undoubtedly hoping for. Yet my hat's off to them for shooting for the stars. Close but no cigar. "Lightning's Hand" is an intense, busy rocker that demonstrates their collective speed and dexterity on their individual instruments but the song itself is less than memorable. Kerry's "Dust in the Wind" is next and I have mixed feelings about this simple ballad. It is, without question, a fine tune that resonated with the public in a big way, rising to #6 on the singles chart, yet I fear it tended to falsely identify the band as some kind of folk outfit to those who weren't paying attention to who Kansas really was. Robby's violin solo is still the best feature of the track yet I've never thought of it as being much more than a basic campfire ditty that I grew weary of hearing quickly. "Sparks of the Tempest" follows and it's another tough-minded rock onslaught with a slightly funky feel on the verses. At this juncture I was wondering if they were consciously trying to downplay their progness and be more crowd-pleasing in their approach because this is pretty much straightforward "arena rawk" fare with no frills or surprises.

To their credit and to my relief, they ended with a couple of back to back gems. "Nobody's Home" is a piano-driven song containing taut, emotion-tugging dynamics while, at the same time, showing a lot of tactful restraint on their part. I especially like the grandiose colorings they drench the ending with on their way out. On "Hopelessly Human" they reassured me that they were continuing to fly their prog flag proudly. When this collection of musicians put their heads together to create a true epic and put their souls into it no one could do it better on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. They even brought in some clanging carillon to top it off properly. These last two songs restored my tentative but hopeful faith in American-made progressive rock.

Released in October of '77, "Point of Know Return" zoomed up to the #4 position on the LP charts, made an even larger chunk of the populace aware of how gifted this faceless band was and further established Kansas as worldwide headliners. Alas, the friction between Steve and Kerry wasn't cured by the album's success. The record's popularity only delayed the inevitable resurgence of that cancer into the group's bloodstream and within a short time they entered into a period of slow decline not only for the rest of the decade but far into the 80s. Having duly noted what transpired after "Point of Know Return" I still must give it props for being one of the finest examples of USA-produced prog (a rare species, indeed) in existence. It's a keeper. 3.8 stars.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars As a kid in the late 70's, I can remember standing in Zeller's department store near the cafeteria and looking at the covers of the record albums on display in the music department across the aisle. Three covers made a deep enough impression that I easily recognized them when, years later, that style of music became my preference. One pictured a domed city on a gigantic guitar with rocket flames churning out from below. "Boston" was emblazoned in gold letters across the guitar, and the earth was exploding in the distance. Another cover featured an intense-looking, long-haired man furiously clutching and playing a guitar from whose head was bursting forth flame and sparks, like a double barrel shotgun blasting. The third album cover was quite different. No flames, guns, rockets, or explosions, just a silhouetted ship tipping over the edge of a seemingly endless waterfall with no bottom. A black sun shone from beyond the falls, providing a sense of hope because a sun existed beyond oblivion but at the same time mystery and a dread of the unknown. I became familiar with the first two albums in my teens; however it was only a few weeks ago that I sat down to order an album by Kansas, just to see what all the fuss was about, that I was at last able to put a band name to that haunting album cover with the ship going over the ocean- breadth-sized waterfall.

"Point of Know Return" was not my first Kansas album. I bought "Power" several years ago when I was in a Deep Purple haze craze and wanted to hear what the members past and present of that legendary band were doing when not in DP, and the Steve Morse connection brought me to Kansas. Only at that time did I even first know that "Dust in the Wind" was a song by the same band! Yeah, I know: what part of the world was I hiding in all these years?

So, at last a classic Kansas album made it to my CD collection and I can tell you that even though "Leftoverture" is higher rated on PA, it was that cover that impressed me so well at the age of six that made me click to order "Point of Know Return" instead.

I'd read the reviews and knew to expect a few things: arena rock, violin, and 70's American prog (whatever that last part meant). With the opening title track I heard the first two aspects but not much of the third. Seventies arena rock with violin and organ syncopation. Oh, well. A decent driving song. I guess that's what this album will be about, I thought.

But to my pleasant surprise, the 70's American arena rock sound was relegated to the passenger seat on most of the other songs. "Paradox" begins sounding a lot like Dixie Dregs, and "The Spider" is a blatant salute to ELP. "Portrait (He Knew)" is a nice blend of the two prevailing styles of hard rock and prog, and "Closet Chronicles" presents an anthemic musical theme in the styling of classic Uriah Heep but with an instrumental section that favours tempo and mood changes, and prog instrumentation.

The arena rock sound returns for "Lightning's Hand" and "Sparks of the Tempest" (interestingly, the rock aspect of "Tempest" reminds me of Montrose), but not without the trademark sudden tempo changes, odd time signatures, and rapid bursts of classically- influenced playing. And in between these two tracks, timely slotted, is the beautiful acoustic number, "Dust in the Wind". Though I've heard it dozens of times on classic rock radio, I actually got chills when it came into my ear buds. It does stand out as the odd ball of the album, in a way much like "Lucky Man" stands out from ELP's debut.

The last two tracks, "Nobody's Home" and "Hopelessly Human" really focus on the progressive rock side of the band and make for a great pair of songs. I can't help but feel that "Nobody's Home" may have influenced one of Saga's early songs.

I was surprised how familiar the band often sounded to me. Of course "Dust in the Wind" and their other huge hit "Carry On Wayward Son" are classic rock radio staples whose choruses I have known most of my life. Then there's the occasional similarity to Dixie Dregs sans guitar wiz, Steve Morse. But the arena rock aspects and Steve Walsh's vocals are still to be found years later on "Power". Actually, I really like Walsh's vocals, typical of American seventies rock, and I realize how much of an influence rock of the seventies had on my musical preferences even though I was only a kid.

Duly impressed from the first listen to this album, I have now ordered "Song for America" and "Leftoverture". Kansas my just be my next Nektar or Saga, two other bands whose second addition to my CD collection immediately warranted the purchase of a few albums more.

Review by Guillermo
5 stars I think that KANSAS is somewhat underrated as a band by some Prog Rock fans. And I think that it is not fair. Maybe the mixture of Progressive Rock music with some Hard Rock and Heavy Metal guitars and arrangements or even the fact that they had some hits played in the radio like "Carry On Wayward Son" or "Dust on the Wind" are maybe the main things that some Prog Rock fans don`t like from this band. I have to say that even it really took to me some time to like KANSAS`s music in the late seventies and early eighties. But it was until I bought and listened to their very good live album called "Two for the Show" in 1984 that I really started to appreciate how good was this band since the seventies. In fact, i did not like very much this "Point of Know Return" album when I listened to it in the late seventies and early eighties!

This album maybe represents for KANSAS not only their commercial peak as a band with their original line-up thanks to "Dust in the Wind", an acoustic guitar musical piece with very good "existential" lyrics by Kerry Livgren and very good arrangements, but also, in my opinion, with this album KANSAS as a band really reached their peak as musicians, composers and performers. With most tracks composed by Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh (but with the title track composed by Walsh, Phil Ehart and Robby Steinhardt, with "Dust in the Wind" and "Hopelessly Human" composed by Livgren, and "The Spider" composed by Walsh) this album sounds like a very good work done as a real team by all members of the band. Every song is very good, with even some very good arrangements influenced by Classical music with some heavy guitars. The keyboard arrangements are also very good. Phil Ehart also shines as a very good drummer in this album too, and the vocals are sung by Walsh and Steinhardt very well.

I can`t only mention a few songs as highlights in this album, because I like all the songs from this album. But I think that KANSAS always has sounded better playing in concert. Like in their previous album called "Leftoverture", their studio work is very good, but the best versions of the songs from both albums and from their previous albums sound better played in concert, in my opinion, because they played them with more freedom and even adding some very good arrangements in concert like the extended lead guitars section played at the end of the song by Rich Willams and Kerry Livgren in "Portrait" or the more energetic live versions of "Point of Know Return", "Paradox" and "Closet Chronicles" in their live album "Two for the Show". In fact, the 30th anniversary edition of "Two for the Show" has eight of the ten songs from this "Point of Know Return" album played better in concert. But this 1977 studio album for me represents their peak as a band working in the studio. If the "Leftoverture" album was mostly influenced by the songwriting work of Kerry Livgren, with this "Point of Know Return" album the band had contributions in the songwriting by other members of the band, and I also think that the arrangements also improved.

Review by Warthur
5 stars For a good long time Kansas seem to have weaved a tricky course between attempting to establish serious progressive rock credentials on one hand and catering to commercial realities on the other. To my ears, it's on Point of Know Return that they find a golden balance between the two, and in the process of so doing create the sort of masterful pop-prog synthesis that precious few groups (Supertramp and Kayak among them) managed to accomplish in the 1970s.

Proving that you don't need long song lengths to create a sense of epic sweep or intricacy, and with a sound which finally manages to be catchy and accessible without commercial pandering, this to me is the essential Kansas, where they at last become the USA's major entry into the 1970s prog pantheon. Here is planted the seed that so many US prog acts would follow in turn.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
5 stars Here is an album that was pretty much one of my intros into progressive rock. And looking at the reviews some people totally don't get it and yet others totally do. There is no way I can compete with the detailed reviews or contest the oversimplistic reviews of those who just don't get it. I am not going to win over the naysayers nor will I deter the fans. Hell, even Dust Up Your Nose, though overplayed on the radio is still a beautiful song. And to think it was almost thrown away by the band. Well, take it for what it is or leave it if you can't take it. It was a masterpiece of an album by the band. And I will have to leave it at that.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Five albums into Kansas' discography and the band line-up has managed to stay the same through it all. With the release of "Leftoverture", the band had received superstar status, interestingly enough, with their most progressive album. The thing that made the music stand out amongst the superstar rock bands of the 70's, however, was Steinhardt's violin. On the band's first four albums, there was also a presence of a more complex musical structure and that sound was drawing attention. Now, with a taste of the popularity, the danger of making the sound more accessible to attract more listeners was beginning to find its way into the music. "The Point of Know Return", the band's fifth album was the one to find an almost perfect balance between the complexity of "Leftoverture" and the popular sound of commercial, radio-friendly music. For the most part, this album sees them reach that "pinnacle" (get it?).

Unfortunately, another thing started to plague the band, and that was the infestation of popularity among the individual members, most specifically with Steve Walsh, who admittedly was becoming a "prima donna" and entertaining the thoughts of a solo career. Walsh actually left the band for a short time while the album was being recorded, but somehow, the band stayed intact, and that also helped them overall with the sales of this record. Of course, this album went on to outsell the previous album and also produced to major singles, the title track and "Dust in the Wind", the latter being their biggest hit of all. But amongst these gold singles, were some pretty decent tracks that still retained a progressive edge to them, albeit in shorter form and with less complexity.

The title track opens the album with a song that is somewhat similar in style to previous albums with a surprisingly complex combination of interchanging meters that resulted in 7/4 meter. By now, most everyone knows this one. "Paradox" follows with an organ based, dramatic sounding song, again with a quick tempo and interesting riffs in the instrumental sections, but changing to a more straightforward rock sound on the verses. It's also over quickly, a sign of things to come for the band. The instrumental "The Spider" follows, and the violin and keyboards take the spindly theme representing the insect. The instrumental is complex, but leads into "Portrait (He Knew)" which smooths things out a bit and presents a more straightforward style again, but with a somewhat hard edge and catchy melody. Kenny Livgren was inspired by Einstein for the lyrics of the song, but later changed it to a Christian theme for his break-off band "A.D." . The song is distinguished by it's sudden change to a fast and greater intensity for the ending. The first side ends with the longer "Closet Chronicles" (+ 6 minutes). This one has a more melodic and pensive feel to it, but the lyrics and melody are solid, yet mostly straightforward, but with a fast and more complex, progressive instrumental section and excellent violin solo. This track also features both Walsh and Steinhardt on lead vocals, the first of the album to include any vocals other than Walsh's. I tend to like Steinhardt's vocals as, even though Walsh has a great range, he can become overbearing after a while.

The 2nd side opens up with "Lightning's Hand", which features Steinhardt only on vocals. This is the only track on the album where Walsh does not participate in any lead vocal, even though he co-wrote the song with Livgren. This one is the heaviest on the album, and is more blues based and hard rock edge with the guitar taking over the spotlight on the instrumental break. This is followed by the mega-hit, "Dust in the Wind", the ever-popular acoustic ballad, the riff of which is based off of a finger-picking exercise that Livgren's wife liked so much that she insisted he write lyrics to it. Of course, it ends up becoming the band's signature song, for better or worse. Once Livgren played it for the band for the first time, they all recognized it as a hit single. Now, it's become a worn-out song. Steinhardt and Walsh return for "Sparks of the Tempest" which brings back the hard-rock sound of the band again. The music moves away from the progressive edge to replace with a straightforward rock sound, yet the song is still interesting nonetheless with a killer guitar break. The violin, however, is missed in this track until the ending theme that it brings in just before the song fades.

"Nobody's Home" is a powerful, slower track that brings in more pomp before it calms to a nice violin-led intro to the verse. Walsh solos again on this one, but his vocals are much better controlled and restrained here, and the violin/keyboard riff is quite lovely and emotional, bringing back memories of the powerful "The Wall" from "Leftoverture" with a song that is just as great. The final track "Hopelessly Human" is the longest on the album at just over 7 minutes. It is probably the most progressive of the tracks on the album with great dynamics, mood swings, meter changes, non-standard song structure and all of that. Both Walsh and Steinhardt share lead vocals, and they do very well here, with Steinhardt tempering Walsh's over- the-top tendencies. Livgren and Williams pass the solos back and forth quite well as they used to do to more of an extent on past albums.

So, even though the band doesn't give up progressive elements all together, this is the album where the movement away from that was noticed the most. However, the album is still salvageable, and as such, is a good gateway to the band's music. If you like the straightforward sound more, then you'll want to move to the later albums. If you like the progressive and complex sound better, then you'll want to move to their earlier albums. But this album has its strengths and as such, should be considered on of their better ones. For me, it's the last worthwhile album for the band, and I quickly lost interest when I heard the albums that followed. It was a sad loss as the band could have gained a lot more respect now if they had not been captured by the tangled net of commercialism. Overall, it's a weak yet sometimes interesting four-star album.

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4 stars This record must be in our collection due to the quality of the music,the emotional elements of it,the ample variety of sounds and songs,and the quality and balance of the recording.This album is the perfect mix of peaceful and soft rythms with passionate and savage ones;this album is an exam ... (read more)

Report this review (#95342) | Posted by markosherrera | Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Point Of Know Return. Its beautiful and enigmatic cover. Where is the ship going to dive ? Will it dislocate or not ? Where is the prow fighting its way through on the back cover ? Will our heroes fall into space and finally land on an Indian monolith for a new adventure ? The truth is that o ... (read more)

Report this review (#89656) | Posted by Bupie | Thursday, September 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ultimately we all are dust in the wind, but the truth is that some of us blow less than others. This was a note written on the sleeve of the remaster edition, a worthy note in that. It was almost 30 years ago when I first listened to 'Dust in the Wind' in a lunchtime program on our local radio ... (read more)

Report this review (#52238) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's no Leftoverture....... "Point of Know Return" was my introduction to Kansas. It has some great songs on it. "Point of Know Return" starts off the album well. "Dust in the Wind" is definetely one of Kansas's best songs and the album's closer "Hopelessly Human" is incredible with thought p ... (read more)

Report this review (#50662) | Posted by | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I love this CD in my own opinion it is every bit as good as Leftoverture and is an epic statement of what progressive rock is all about. Its starts with Point of know return (a catchy hit single) onto the very progressive Paradox then to The spider (a tangely complex short instrumental. He knew ... (read more)

Report this review (#47980) | Posted by Trouble X | Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars this is a really preat album from th egreat KANSAS. true, not all the songs are superb or proggy but still its an outstanding achievement. a lot of people criticise kansas' tendency for pop but i think that their goal was to reach a mass audience and get them to know what prog is through the m ... (read more)

Report this review (#47649) | Posted by progron | Wednesday, September 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An album that could be listened to all the way throuh without a problem. Crisp, clear production, and superb songwriting are put together to make a masterpiece. This is for musicians and music fans alike, as well as people who only want hits. Kansas seems to have the ability to do such things. ... (read more)

Report this review (#46435) | Posted by soundspectrum | Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Usually a band falls flat on their face after releasing a masterpiece the way Kansas did with Leftoverture, but not this time my friends. Point of Know Return is a follow up to beat all follow ups. Get out your headphones, turn the lights down low and crank up the volume...for this CD was made fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#21820) | Posted by | Thursday, December 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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