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Return To Forever - The Anthology CD (album) cover

THE ANTHOLOGY

Return To Forever

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.52 | 21 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Being mainly a Symphonic fanatic, usually I don't usually review Fusion albums because I find the task exhausting due to the normal complexity of the music, much less when we are talking about anthologies which are not my favorite way of listening music (Normally only buy original versions of the albums in the way the author released them), but when we are talking about "The Anthology" by RETURN TO FOREVER, Hey pals, this is serious stuff, IMO the most iconic Jazz Prog Fusion band of history, who played a transcendental role in the definition of the parameters of the sub-genre and always present music of outstanding quality, so when I was offered to receive this album I said YES without any hesitation.

Yesterday I got the album and stayed in a car jam for two hours with no regret, because used the time to close my windows, place the heat, rise the volume and listen "Anthologies" complete..What an experience!

In first place don't expect me to review the album song by song, because all the tracks are reviewed when talking about the original albums and would be futile.

The first six songs of Disk One cover the album "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy" complete, and for me it's already a winning point being that I was about to buy it. Despite the opinions of some critics about the lack of depth provided by Bill Connors guitar before Al Di'Meola joined them.

Of course I absolutely disagree with this opinions, the sound is different but equally rewarding, perhaps faster and more aggressive, but hey, a band has to change along their history, if not they would had become boring.

This is a real Progressive Fusion album, where Chick Corea and his incredibly accurate keyboard sections blend perfectly with the amazingly fast rhythm section where Lenny White and Stanley Clarke provide the perfect support while Bill Connors adds the frantic touch. Superb work.

The rest of the tracks of the first CD are dedicated to "Where Have I known You Before" (1974) where Al Di'Meola joins the band to be part of the most iconic formation of the band.

The album is represented by four out of the eight original tracks, but present a good panoramic vision of the radical change of sound, it's slower, closer to traditional Jazz and less Rocker, but for the lovers of the genre always a pleasure, as a fact it's a right choice to omit "Earth Juice" with it's Disco Music reminiscences always was a disappointment for me.

The 14 minutes epic "Song of the Pharaoh Kings" is the cherry on the pie, simply fantastic, fast but not frantic, everything fits right in it's place and more, the song flows at an incredible speed but without loosing coherence at any point.

Disk two starts with 4 tracks from the album "No Mystery" a very controversial release, too funky and lets say recorded in a joke mood for some, but also a very melodic and well elaborate production.

This proves us that Jazz bands don't need to be boring and based exclusively in technical virtuoso displays of musicianship, a bit of humor plus great amounts of melody and versatility are always welcome as a great addition.

I was frightened when I saw so little tracks from this album, but "Celebration Suite part I and II" are played as a whole 14:01 minutes epic.

Less Prog oriented than all the previous offerings, but still I can't do anything except smile in my car as an idiot in the middle of a traffic jam (while all the other drivers start to loose their patience) because I like what I listen and enjoying the delay to return home after a hard day of work.

"The Anthology" ends with a complete version of "Romantic Warrior" the album in which the band blended the spirit of Jazz with Medieval fantasies and a touch of Symphonic Rock, one of my all time favorites and which I have reviewed completely in this pages, so there's no need for more comments.

When we are talking about a box set anthology as in this case, presentation matters and the 20 pages booklet is a great addition to an already outstanding work, if you add a perfectly clean production, there's little more to say.

The guidelines of Prog Archives recommend us to rate an album with 5 stars only when it's an essential addition to a Progressive Rock collection, so my inference works this way: No Prog Collection is complete without some Fusion albums even if you are not a diehard fan, no Fusion collection is complete without "RETURN TO FOREVER" and this "Anthologies" are essential to any person who wants to have a complete idea of the evolution of the band in a period of four years and the musical peak of the band.

So if I gave "Anthologies" less than five solid stars I would be being unfair, because even if you don't have other albums, with "Anthologies" you already have a very complete vision of the band. If this doesn't mean essential, I this concept should be redefined.

By this point I'm about to reach my house, no more traffic jam, but I drive slowly on purpose enjoying the last notes of "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant", because I know at home I won't have the time and tranquility to listen the 149 minutes of "The Anthology" from start to end, but in Lima there's always a chance, of heavy traffic, so the CD's stay in the car ready for today.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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