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Super Hot Stamper - Kansas - Point of Know Return

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Point of Know Return

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

  • An original Kirshner pressing that is doing just about everything right, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big and solid guitars and keyboards, with great bass, full vocals, and plenty of Tubey Magic (particularly on side two) - this the way to hear the band
  • Most copies are just too thin and bright to be any good for seriously listening at serious levels, but the best of the best manage to stay smooth enough and tonally correct enough to allow an extra click or two of volume, which of course results in a much more powerful audio experience
  • 4 stars: "This is the definitive Kansas recording. . . their interplay and superior musicianship make this both an essential classic rock and progressive rock recording."

More Kansas / More Prog Rock

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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG

Drop the needle on "Dust in the Wind" -- here the guitars and vocals are full-bodied and natural, qualities unfortunately in short supply on most of pressings we played.

This original Kirshner pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Point of Know Return Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1977
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Watch Yer Guitars

The better copies get rid of a problem that quickly becomes irritating as you play track after track: a certain squawky, pinched sound to the guitars. Bad copies of the album have that sound through and through, along with excessive amounts of grain and grunge. The guitars are prominent in the mix on practically every song here, so when the guitars sound sour, the track as a whole does too.

The mastering and pressing problems of the average copy make the overall sound unmusical. The way we found that out was simple enough -- we cleaned and played lots of copies, and once in a while we heard one that allowed the music to breathe, open up, sound balanced, actually make sense even. Those copies showed us a Point of Know Return we didn't know existed and gave us a goal to shoot for with all the other copies we played.

Most copies, like so many rock records from the era, are veiled and smeary. Often they lack extension at one or both ends of the frequency spectrum, usually up top, which results in harshness and shrillness -- not the sound you want on a Kansas record!

Another tough test: the vocals often strain when loud. Hot Stampers are all about finding the copies that don't have that problem, along with many others. The higher the grade, the fewer the sonic problems.

What We're Listening For On Point of Know Return

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

One More Thing

The CBS Half-Speeds suck. Way too bright and thin. What were they thinking?

Side One

  • Point of Know Return
  • Paradox
  • The Spider
  • Portrait (He Knew)
  • Closet Chronicles

Side Two

  • Lightning's Hand
  • Dust in the Wind
  • Sparks of the Tempest
  • Nobody's Home
  • Hopelessly Human

AMG 4 Star Review

This is the definitive Kansas recording and includes their most famous tune, "Dust in the Wind." The band is in peak form and also churned out the single "Point of Know Return," which is still played daily on classic rock stations.

While their pop-oriented approach and standard rock guitar sound helped define the classic rock sound of the '70s, careful listening reveals that this band's talent goes beyond colleagues such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Boston.

Their arrangements and time signatures more accurately reflect the music of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. "Paradox" and "The Spider" are both excellent examples of their progressive approach. ... their interplay and superior musicianship make this both an essential classic rock and progressive rock recording.