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Return To Forever - Music Magic CD (album) cover

MUSIC MAGIC

Return To Forever

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.72 | 61 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars In some ways, this MM album stands out as a UFO in RTF's discography: With only Corea and Clarke remaining, RTF gets another bizarre shuffle with the return of Joe Farrell (the wind player in RTF's first two albums) and Gayle Moran (ex-Mahavishnu and more) on vocals and some kbs. Outside the fact that he also had to replace the fantastic Lenny White by Gary Brown, Chick goes on to include a full brass section as RTF members, which will provide a "big band sound", but much sonic awkwardness as well, given the music's overly complex nature. In some ways, despite the heavy line-up changes, MM is a logical successor to RW, but something went awfully wrong in the concept itself and its elaboration. RTF's final album also saw its release on CBS, like its majestic predecessor and it has a very "prog" fantasy artwork for sleeve.

Don't get me wrong, the album is not as bad as you might fear it after reading the above paragraph. Actually the album starts with the best track, The Musician, a 7-mins trip into complex music that can reminds the GG excesses of RW, but the funky elements and the semi-reggae rhythm give the piece a strange allure that even Gayle's voice doesn't diminish the interest, including a bowed contrabass in the middle section. However there are pure stinkers like the AOR-ish, almost Sinatra-esque Hello Again and its big band pretensions, or the main problem being Gayle Moran's vocals (throughout the album >> she's way too present in RTF, where she wasn't a nuisance in MO) that will grate your patience The 11-mins slow-starting (with some very disputable synth sounds) title track is an overly complicated trip that mixes jazz funk with classical and Yes-type of progressive rock. It actually would work fairly well if it wasn't so cheesy. The middle sung-section with double vocals is cheese-fondue for a full Swiss battalion, and the funky last third is good, but Chick's synths are simply a deterrent for multiple listenings.

The flipside starts with the boring So Long Mickey Mouse, another Clarke-penned song, where Gayle spreads her disputable voice all over the spectrum; this mixed with some of the worst brass section (BS&T style) and Chick's stinky synths (mmmm!!!... Repeat seven times in one breath ;o))) make this a no-no for me. Do You Ever has again Gayle all over the track, but here, she sounds a bit like a second degree early Kate Bush (as does the music) and it works slightly better, partly because it's not overstaying its welcome as had So Long MM. The closing Endless Night (almost 10 minutes) is probably the other better moment of the album, because it returns to the classical-semi-medieval influences of RW, and if you learn to cope with the duet vocals and Chick's synths, you could enjoy it.

Unlike its RW predecessor, MM has some original ideas, but most of them are ruined by other catastrophic ones. While I can still recommend RW no problems despite its flaws, I simply can't do it for MM. Better stay away from RTF's swan song. Little wonder they called it a say after this one.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |

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