Kansas released their fifth studio album “Point of Know Return” today on October 11, 1977. It went on to become the band’s highest charting album in the US, peaking at No. 4, and sell four million copies in US alone.
The recording of the album started in June 1977 at Studio in the Country but due to equipment failure, the most of the album was actually recorded at Woodland Studios in Nashville during the month of July. The sound of the album is more radio-friendly compared to its predecessor, “Leftoverture” (1976). And for most prog fans, it was the beginning of a new era for the band: a more pop-oriented and accessible one. Although it introduced Kansas to a much larger audience, what came next was seen as a period of musical decline. But there is no denying that the album still carried elements from the progressive side of the band.
“Lightning’s Hand” is an explosive surprise, which with a little bit of push, might as well be a prog metal song with guitar shredding. “The Spider” is definitely a mix of Yes and ELP and features gorgeous keyboard sections by Steve Walsh. “Sparks of the Tempest” is as funky as prog can get with fiery lyrical criticism at its best. The interchange between the Steinhardt’s violin and his vocals elevates the song. And between these energetic prog songs are melancholic ballads with thought-provoking lyrics. It is this stark contrast that really puts “Point of Know Return” in a special place in our hearts.
Fun fact: “Dust in the Wind”, perhaps the band’s best known song from their discography, started out as a finger exercise by Kerry Livgren for learning fingerpicking. But when his wife heard it, she encouraged him to write lyrics to the melody. Livgren, who was unsure at first whether the band would accept it, still showed it to them and as a result, we got one of the greatest philosophical rock songs ever written.