(All Album Reviews by daddysangbassdude)
Twenty-five years after the album Point of Know Return came out on vinyl -- twenty-five years after PoKR was released as a single only to have “Dust In The Wind” become the band's most commercially successful song, destined to go down as one of the most beautiful rock songs ever written -- comes the remastered Point of Know Return.
The remaster brings out a few sounds that had previously been buried deeper in the original mix, keyboard sounds are stronger in songs such as “Paradox”, “Nobody's Home” and “Hopelessly Human”, giving the songs a richer texture.
PoKR followed up Leftoverture as one of the most complex "mainstream progressive" recordings in rock music with an abundance of classical flavors and unique time signatures. The massive crossover success of “Dust In The Wind” made PoKR the band's best-selling album, but the simplicity of “Dust” hid the aggressively complex nature of this album.
The remaster includes all of the lyrics and sleeve artwork from the original, along with new and very enlightening liner notes from David Wild, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone Magazine, and producer/engineer Jeff Glixman. Wild in particular gives great insight to the success/inner struggles the band was experiencing at the time PoKR was recorded.
"For all the angst that went on behind the music, Point of Know Return remains a powerful show of Kansas' musical strength," Wild says.
Some great additions to the remaster are the live “Sparks of the Tempest”, recorded at Merriweather Pavilion, MD, that features some serious rocking guitar work from Rich Williams and Kerry Livgren, as well as some "balls-to-the-wall, go-out-and-let-it-all-hang-out" vocals from Robby Steinhardt and Steve Walsh.
However, the coup de grace is the final track, a remixed “Portrait (He Knew)” -- a song written about Albert Einstein -- that Glixman admits was rushed when he first mixed it, but now ... WWWOOOOOOWWW! Phil Ehart's drums sound better than ever in the new mix. Overall, it's like listening to a brand new song and easy to forget that it's been around 25 years.
The remastered PoKR is a must-have for any fan of Kansas, and a great intro for anyone yet to taste the full flavor of one of the best progressive American bands to ever come down the pike.
(All Album Reviews by Hunnibee)
This is as "classic" as Classic Kansas gets! Point of Know Return was met with such high acclaim in 1977, even some of the snooty kids at my high school were known to have owned it! It’s pure prog all the way through. In fact, it sounds like one long song, the tale of a fantastic journey through time and space. This is the way prog should sound...to me, anyway. Like the two albums that sandwich it (Leftoverture and Monolith), there are no "skip" songs on this one. In fact, I call these three albums "The Big Three" because they showcase the band at its finest!
This is one of the most popular album covers of all time in the music industry. Just about every die-hard Kansas fan has the t-shirt, and a few brave souls sport a tattoo of the ship going over the edge. I especially love the pencil sketches of the band members...six handsome, talented men who rocked my world all those years ago!
Point of Know Return starts off with the title track, a fantastic song that invites the listener into the storyteller’s mind, sort of like that poem we all had to learn in high school, "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner", only the ending is less gruesome. Even I, as a female, have dreamed of sailing away to some point of "no" return. I guess its part of my adventurous spirit.
The fun continues with “Paradox”...there is no way you can sit still for this one! I’ve seen early concert clips of Steve Walsh bouncing all over the stage during this song, and it’s no wonder! The violin is fierce...both Robby Steinhardt and David Ragsdale smoke seriously on this one! The lyrics continue in the adventurous vein...both Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh must have been eating plenty of oatmeal when they wrote the songs for this album. It’s too bad they don’t perform this one live anymore. I would certainly love to see it, but I suppose Steve would need a lot more oatmeal these days!
Next is a song I like to call "the primordial soup" of all Kansas songs. “The Spider” is an instrumental that incorporates all the basics that Kansas had created and performed up until that time. Our little Stevie done damn good with this one! I can’t help wondering if he was channeling Keith Emerson at the time he wrote it! My only regret is that “The Spider” is way too short. I could use another 10 minutes of this, at least!
“Portrait (He Knew)” is a great song, too, but I’m not as crazy for this one. Perhaps I am not into biographical tunes, even though Einstein was a pretty cool dude! (I am known to be fussy about lyrics, a trait most poets have, I suppose.) It’s got a good, rocking beat, but it just doesn’t turn my crank as much as other Kansas songs do. Likewise, “Closet Chronicles”, another biographical song, leaves me lacking, too. However, let me go on record by saying that the music on this track is phenomenal! The entire band showcases their awesome talents as individual musicians, and for this reason alone, I do not skip this song. Still, though, the mundane lyrics are about a mundane man...Howard Hughes never thrilled me.
“Lighting’s Hand” is the hard rock song of the album. This fun, little fantasy takes you out the depression caused by “Closet Chronicles” and gives you a “Belexes”-style beat that makes you bop around your living room...well, MY living room, anyway! Robby’s voice is exceptional, as always. Kudos to Steve for cool lyrics, too.
So now we come to the song that made Kansas a household name. There can’t possibly be a soul on the planet over the age of 30 who has not heard “Dust In the Wind”! (I bet they even know this song in Outer Mongolia!) Every mother has sung it to her babies, and many funerals conclude with it, thus it is heard at the beginning of life and at the end. We die-hard fans may be a little tired of it, but Kansas isn't Kansas without this song.
“Sparks of the Tempest” is another staple of the Kansas diet, an all-around good song with great musical elements and dark lyrics to make you ponder. Although it is not one of my favorites, it’s a "piece of the same", fitting in with the adventurous theme of the album. However, the next song does not quite fit in as well. I find “Nobody’s Home” to be somewhat depressing lyrically. It does have a pleasant rhythm to it, though, which keeps me from skipping it. Robby’s violin is very sweet here. It would be a pretty song if the words weren’t so miserable!
“Hopelessly Human” makes up for that, though! It’s an achingly beautiful song, and Kerry’s lyrics give us hope in our humanity, instead of the bleakness of a dead Earth on the previous song. It’s very inspirational and contemplative, one of his best songs ever! The music is terrific here, too, mixing slow and fast elements that are conducive to good Prog rock. The bells at the end are a nice, little touch. It was very difficult to choose a favorite song on this album, but this one is it for me!
And so we have here an album that has stood the test of time, remaining a favorite throughout the decades, not just of hardcore fans, but mainstream listeners as well. It was a favorite of mine for quite some time during the late 70s and helped me through some tough times back then. I'm glad it's still around today!