The members of Kansas would probably be the first to admit that visual appeal has never been one of the band’s major strengths. The musicians themselves have publicly lampooned the video for “Point of Know Return,” which actually pre-dates the advent of MTV.
This video is essentially a performance clip that’s been “enhanced” (and by “enhanced” I mean “completely ruined”) by some spectacularly wretched video effects. Add to that the band’s penchant for unfortunate costuming choices, and it’s a visual recipe for disaster.
Dressed in an open-fronted shirt with a very large collar, singer Steve Walsh looks like he’s playing a gig at a high school prom . . . which actually kinda works out well, since guitarist Rich Williams inexplicably chose to wear a white tuxedo on stage in those days. Hey, if you’re gonna look like a prom band, might as well try to match.
Kerry Livgren sports the Obi-Wan Kenobi look in what appears to be some sort of Druid tunic (complete with sash). It’s especially funny that’s he’s also wearing a wrist watch, which tends to detract from the intended effect. It begs the question, do Jedis (or Druids for that matter) even care about time? Violinist/vocalist Robby Steinhardt looks like he just got back from wandering in the desert preaching End Times rhetoric, while drummer Phil Ehart bears an uncanny resemblance in this clip to Elrond from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The visual effects basically consist of quasi-lightning effects intercut with some out-of-phase blurring and image multiplying. The overall effect is like watching a cheesy performance clip while simultaneously experiencing a bad hallucinogenic trip. I wouldn’t recommend watching this video if you’re prone to seizures. In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend watching this video if you’re not prone to seizures, either.
“There’s nothing natural about lip-synching and pretending you’re playing,” Rich Williams observed last year in an interview with Long Live Rock on Blog Talk Radio. “It’s very creepy. It was three in the morning when we were doing that. When we saw the ‘Point of Know Return’ video, we were shocked, horrified with the special effects.
“But in retrospect now, I love it,” he added with a laugh. “It really captures that cheesy early era of video effects.”
Apparently the video did the group no lasting harm. The Point of Know Return album proved the commercial peak of Kansas, and both the title song and especially “Dust in the Wind” became enormous radio hits. Both songs are a staple of classic rock radio today, and Kansas continues to perform them both in a very busy concert schedule on the classic rock circuit, where the band is a fixture.
As of this writing, nobody in Kansas wears a Jedi robe onstage.