Monday, August 20, 2012

"Point of Know Return" by Kansas (1977)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisting Vinyl

Filed between: Judas Priest and KC & The Sunshine Band

Key Tracks Really Good Songs: Dust in the Wind

Pretty Good Songs: Point of Know Return, Lightning's Hand

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses: Portrait (He Knew), Nobody's Home

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Average (2/4 stars)

Eerily Telling Quote:
"I am patiently doing nothing in reverie... All these hot licks and rhetoric surely do you no harm."

I'm sure there are people out there who swear by the depth and color of "Point of Know Return" - but I'm not one of 'em.  It exemplifies the a major pitfall inherent to prog (and even more so in prog-pop).  Like Malcolm says in "Jurassic Park" - "Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean that you SHOULD." 

There's clearly a rich mythos behind "Point of Know Return," and it's got some really interesting elements to it.  Unfortunately, it feels like we're getting the least interesting stories (or the least interesting perspectives) from it.  It's Like if "Lord of the Rings" had only focused on the hobbits that never left The Shire.

And then there's the sound.  For the most part, the synths swallow everything else with a jaunty, sailing shanty grin.  That works really well for the first two tracks (especially the one about sailing of the edge of the world), but then it all changes...

After that, we move into a synth-heavy instrumental and then into Portrait (He Knew).  It keeps up the synth throughout the intro and bridge, but whenever there's a verse/chorus involved, it immediately slips into pure BTO-esque power rock.  The second-tier Christian rock lyrics don't help either.  Then they do it again on the next track - Closet Chronicles.  The do-over is monumentally unoriginal, but at least it yields a (comparitively) better song.

Then, Lightning's Hand is almost metal (if they allowed sailing shanties in metal).

Dust in the Wind (the track everybody remembers from "POKR") doesn't even try to pretend like it fits in with anything else on the LP.

So, is it an album?  No.  The concept for a good prog album was buried in there.  Kansas just dug in the wrong spot.

Up next, an artist I've already covered twice teams up with a songwriter I've already covered twice.  It's Alice Cooper with help from Bernie Taupin on "From the Inside."  Their scores are both one and one right now.  I'm curious to see what the tiebreaker yields...

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