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Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before CD (album) cover


Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Jazz-Rock fusion album. Here performs a great band led by the virtuoso keyboardist Chick Corea (ex-member of Miles Davis band). People like Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White also count amongst the best jazz musicians. The record mostly consists of gorgeous jazz-rock tunes, divided by romantic piano interludes (the Where Have I ... You Before tracks). The only truly prog-rock track here should be Song To The Pharaoh Kings, a pompous synthesizer driven track. This album is great, but I think it is more appealing for jazz-rock fans than for plain prog-rock fans... but everybody has their own taste.
Report this review (#29484)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This is the realm of the fusion featuring the pivotal band RETURN TO FOREVER with an amazing line-up: Al DiMeola on guitars, Stanley Clarke on bass (also organ and percussion), Lenny White on drum and percussion and bandleader Chick Corea on keyboards and percussion, four virtuosic musicians! The strong point on this album is the exciting interplay in eight tasteful and varied compositions, from mellow (with acoustic piano) to propulsive with many outstanding soli on keyboards (Minimoog) and electric guitar. Al DiMeola has a very distinctive sound: powerful, fast and using a special technique by 'deading' the strings, very spectacular when playing so fast! The absolute highlight is the track "Song To The Pharoah Kings" (almost 15 minutes): an Arab climate, Latin percussion and great soli on keyboards (Minimoog and Fender Rhodes electric piano), bass and guitar (supported by a dynamic rhythm-section and a duel with Chick Corea). If you want to discover the fusion/jazz rock music, this is a perfect album to start!
Report this review (#29486)
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars An ultimate fusion masterpiece, and even if we consider it a jazz-rock album, I belive it is generally more attractive for a prog rock fan than for a jazz consumer. I rate it five stars for great compositions (like Vulcan Worlds or Song To The Pharaoh Kings), for a tasteful, heavy and melodic sound of the whole band, and, among any other factors, for excellent playing by each of the musicians, especially Chick Corea - imagine any prog keabordist playing like him... Even Emerson wouldn't handle it... or even if he could - he wouldn't be so inventive in building all those Latin-influenced solos - highly melodic, sharp, and thick on sound... Also it's one of my favourite synthesiser albums...Unique.
Report this review (#29487)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had this record from a pile of vinyl that a friend of a good friend of mine, gave to me. I didn't know nothing about Chick Corea so, i put de vinyl aside and forgot about it. Many years pass and one day, another good friend of mine called me from his cell phone to tell me that he brough the most amazing album he eard in his life ! The CD was "Romantic Warrior" by Return to Forever. It became a instant classic of mine. Than one day, my friend brough "Where Have I Known You Before". As soon as i saw the cover, i remebred that i had it on vinyl, so i took the dust out of it and put it on... Wow !!! This album was as good, if not better, than "Romantic Warrior" !!!

The album starts with a simple Rhodes melody with a funky bass and a funky hi-hat + bass drum rhythm. Than out of nowhere you ear a sound of moog fallowed by a certain 18 years old Al DiMeola who start to play on guitar. You can not beat a intro like that, it goes right to the point, that is we are here to blow your mind aparts and there is nothing you can do about it, why?... When you have Chick Corea on keyboards, Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on drum and on his debut album, Al DiMeola on guitar, your bound to be amazed, they are amongs the best players in the profession that is playing instruments of music. Vulcan Worlds is the first piece of resistence from the album. Very groovy and agressive in some parts, a must in the RTF repertoire.

Where Have I Loved You Before, is a piano interlude, very beatiful but doesn't sound easy to play.

Than, the Rhodes starts a another beautiful melody fallowed by the bass and drums. Shadow Of Lo, has started. Shadow Of Lo is a more mellow tune but, it still groove like crazy, especialy in the middle witch has a superb moog solo by Corea. It's with that song that you realise that Al DiMeola is a guitar god, nothing else !!!

Where Have I Danced With You Before, is a another piano interlude by Corea, this time longer and more joyfull.

Beyond The Seventh Galaxy is the song where Lenny White does drums fill beyond human capacity, another god !!! this song is more agressive that the others and there is a very good guitar+keyboards theme played in armony.

Earth Juice, may not be the best song in the RTF repertoire but it is still beyond imagination, and a lot better than other stuff you might ear in your life. Very groovy.

Where Have I Known You Before?, is the last piano interlude. Very very beatiful, the best of all three.

Song To The Pharoah Kings: This tune maybe the best music RTF has recorded. A 14min tour de force !!! It start with Corea, solo on keyboards. Very mellow, very 70's but incredebly good. Than the keyboards sound change and the melody sound a little more spanish but, what a melody !!! When the band comes in to supports the theme, you know you in for a musical gift, and what a gift !!! Imagine the best rhythm track with the best guitar, bass and keyboards solo you have eard in your life and multiply it by a 1000 and you got the Song To The Pharoah Kings. This song is parts of my top 10 best track i have eard in my life, with two other songs from the RTF catalog, but this is a another story ;)

5 stars, nothing under that, a masterpiece of Jazz/Prog Rock music. Essential !!!!!

Report this review (#78542)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Where Have I Known You Before is the Chick Corea's master piece because of many factors: All the Album is arround fo a poem: Every song is inspaired for the text, the poem gives the name to the album. The compositions have many rythms and styles of epoque, very good arpoximations. But the most important is the original form of the compositions: Corea never over tuned the hight level of composition, inclouding The Elektric Band; I never heard again this level of aregments or composition. Corea uses spanian scales tha gives to the song an aura of mistery and sofistication. The group of misicians is virtuos, not alike to the Elektric Band, but RTF is more intrepid and revolucionary: the propositions match with other lider groups as Weather Report, Mahavishnu in the jazz area, and the rock area match with Brand X and others. For more many causes I think Where Have... the most brilliant album of RTF and Chick Corea. I recomend the audution of the present album to the beginer, the audiophile, and the profetional: Denis Chambers saids that Lenny White is one of his influences. Like we say in México: A'i nomás!
Report this review (#93409)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars So you're impressed with the speed rush that you get from metal and you want to expand your prog horizons into some accelerated jazz rock-fusion but The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a little too "out there" for your taste. Well, don't despair for this is probably what you're looking for. Four of the best virtuosos ever working as one unit, creating well-crafted instrumental songs with definite melodies, comprehensible structures and lots of ear candy.

The album starts with bassist Stanley Clarke's fabulous "Vulcan Worlds." If I were to pick a single tune to introduce a neophyte to the genre, this would be it because it has everything that's great about jazz rock-fusion. Including a great build-up and climax. It sizzles. One of the distinguishing things about this particular record is that Chick Corea has interspersed some short, soothing piano interludes between cuts based on the title of the album. "Where have I Loved, Danced With and Known You Before," all give the proceedings the feeling that there is a strong spiritual concept behind it all. (The LP included a metaphysical poem by Neville Potter printed on the back of the cover.) Drummer extraordinaire Lenny White contributes his top-notch "The Shadow of Lo" that begins with a lone Rhodes piano before everyone drops into a nice, flowing feel underneath an infectious melody. Soon they take the tempo up a notch and delve into a great funky rhythm that will put a smile on your face before it's over. It's my favorite song on the album. Corea's "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy" is a spirited, rocking tune where the band "speaks" in brief musical sentences and it's like a virtual whirlwind of notes flying in formation around your head. Short but very sweet. "Earth Juice," composed by the band as a whole, features a rolling (dare I say disco?) beat that drives non-stop all the way through. You might be tempted to get up and show off a few dance moves on this one! "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" has a substantial "Egyptian" flavor instigated by the coy synthesizer melody that segues into a quick but not frantic pace. It's a showcase piece where everyone gets to shine, starting with White who literally flies over the drumheads followed by Clarke who demonstrates his unique approach to playing bass guitar. But this is more than just blatant showboating because it never gets predictable or tiring. The tune evolves into a new melody halfway through and Al DiMeola gets his moment in the sun with a fantastic guitar solo. Corea then takes over with the Rhodes piano and the synthesizer fiercely battling it out all the way to the dramatic end.

There are no fade-outs here. Every song has a clearly defined beginning and conclusion and that's very refreshing. While I realize that jazz rock-fusion is not for everybody, I feel that if most proggers do a little investigation they can enhance and widen their knowledge and awareness in this realm of music with rewarding results. I can think of no better place to start than with this group and this excellent album.

Report this review (#111652)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Time has gone so fast. I never imagined that this album was released in 1974 and in fact I had this album in 1983. For your information, since couple of weeks ago, I have played many prog collection from cassette version ranging from Led Zeppelin until Mahavishnu Orchestra. This morning just before I rode my bike for going to work, I played the cassette version of this album. To my surprise, the sound quality is still excellent and I'm impressed with the fact that this cassette was purchased in 1983 - it's been more than 20 years by now!

This album delivers a top notch jazz rock fusion music which comprises great works by legendary musicians: Chick Corea, Lenny White, Stanley Clarke, and Al Di Meola. each musician has their own uniqueness in terms of styles and sounds. Look at AL Di Meola. Yes, there has been many names for guitar musicians but ... the style and sounds of AL Di Meola has created his own identity and no one else can do the same or similar with his hand-picking style as well as sounds. Lenny White is a dazzling drummer with jaw-dropping styles which set a standard in jazz drumming style. I can only compare his style with Steve Gadd. Stanley Clarke's bass guitar playing is also very specific and unique. Who dares to challenge Chick Corea whom his fingers are capable of produncing tight notes at transition pieces with short period. The result is of course an excellent music.

"Shadow Of Lo" (7:34) demonstrates a good style of mellow music with blues influence at the opening part and moves forward into upbeat and a bit complex composition. I can feel how the pulsating keyboard sounds of Chick Corea is beautifully wrapped by fast speed guitar fills by Al Di Meola. Stanley Clarke does his best to perform tight bass lines and picking. Lenny White does not play his drums as gate keeper but he delivers dynamic shoots throughout the song which elevate the emotional impact to its listeners.

Other songs are excellent as well and I admit that this album, overall, is a well composed music and each member has achieved excellent appreciation from the music community. I still remember vividly that I knew the band from the "Music Magic" album and explored further into this album. It's recommended for those who appreciate jazz rock fusion. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#126781)
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars After Miles Davis, there were arguably three landmark jazz-rock fusion bands of the 1970s: Weather Report, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Return To Forever II, all with Davis alumni. RTF I was a progressive Latin-jazz band with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Joe Farrell, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. With a series of line-up changes, RTF morphed into its classic jazz-rock fusion combo of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola. The first RTF II album, Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy with Bill Connors on guitar, was a smash, and appears to be a favourite among prog fans. The later Romantic Warrior was the most popular RTF II album. But Where Have I Known You Before was always my favourite. Hymn had a more aggressive sound, typified by Connor's guitar; whereas Where has a cooler more refined sound, as does DiMeola's guitar. For me, the songwriting on Where is also more memorable. Clarke's opening Vulcan Worlds sets the tone, and keeps with the space theme in most of RTF. (Clarke's eponymous solo album also incorporates the Vulcan Worlds theme.) Lenny White's Shadow Of Lo is a beautiful song; his songwriting reflects the musicality of his drumming. The album has the character of a concept album with the longer songs tied together by Corea's short acoustic piano pieces. The otherworldly cover art also adds to the conceptual theme. And the album ends with my very favourite RTF II tune, Song To The Pharoah Kings, with Corea's impeccable keyboards and a superb DiMeola guitar solo.
Report this review (#130735)
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply one of the greatest jazz jusion albums ever, this is Return to Forever's greatest album in my opinion. Everthing about their music here is at it's best, the groove, the soloing, the melodies. This is the perfect mix of the floaty (RTF, Light As a Feather), the funky (Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy), and the proggy (Romantic Warrior) aspects of RTF. Vulcan Worlds, Shadow of Lo, Earth Juice, and Song for the Pharaoh Kings are some highlights. Highly recomended.
Report this review (#150223)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars From the exciting (and VERY '70's sounding) opener to the dramatically composed closer Pharaoh Kings, Where Have I Known You Before is a creative, energetic showcase of great playing and songwriting. The four players deliver the goods instrumentally (as one might expect), with Corea's layered synthesizers giving the album a heavy sci-fi'ish '70's funk feel; listening to this album is like stepping into a time warp!

The songs feature a broad mix of sounds and moods, with an emphasis on the above mentioned, and as a whole are not as polished sounding as on Romantic Warrior, in part due to the production quality. There is also more of a frantic feel here, giving many of the tunes a heavy-handed tone, but not detracting from their quality. My second choice Return to Forever album, but still a winner in all regards, and one of the more enjoyable fusion albums in my library.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#156835)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars (I will be seeing RTF at the Denver Paramount Theater on June 3, 2008 and was compelled to review the three CDs featuring the classic lineup of Corea, Dimeola, Clark and White).

Where Have I Known You Before was RTF's 1974 release and the first of the Corea, Di Meola, Clark & White lineup.

This historic record features the 19 year old Al Di Meola, a shredding machine with more tone and taste than most guitarists twice his age. An absolutely amazing musician! This would be Al's first recording session of many to come and the dawn of one of THE MOST influential guitarists in the history of music.

The standout tracks on this record are:

Vulcan Worlds: a great composition, perfectly executed and one of the fan favorites from RTF live concerts. It should appeal to anyone interested in progressive and complex music.

Beyond the Seventh Galaxy: one of the most progressive tracks you will ever hear, by any artist or band. Chick's masterful keyboard work is flaunted in spades.

Song to the Pharaoh Kings: sounds like Chick Corea twenty some years later, with his Elektric Band! If you're a Chick connoisseur you will appreciate how some of his phrasing and runs on newer recordings are linked back to this 1974 record.

Even though this record was the start of something great, featuring musicians who were, and still are, virtuosos with very few equals, I have a difficult time giving this one five stars. Its weaker moments, namely Earth Juice, a repetitive five note song that is an excruciating listen, reduces any chances of this record being a masterpiece. For as much as I respect RTF I cannot believe that they couldn't come up with better filler material. A Chick Corea piano improv for three minutes would have been better than Earth Juice.

I highly recommend this record for those that are jazz-rock fans and those curious of what the hype with RTF is all about. FOUR EASY STARS.

Report this review (#165206)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Behind this absolutely ugly "pick-up in a disco" line used as a title, this is the first album with the classic line-up, since previously unknown guitarist Bill Connors gets replaced (I believe he left for a solo career, which to my knowledge never materialized) for young previously unknown Al, DiMeola, who would go on to become one of the greats of jazz guitars. Probably that you'll never be able to assemble such an incredibly virtuoso line-up at every musician spot, with maybe only Lenny's seat still improvable (Bruford or Cobham). So by the summer of 74, WHIKYB had been recorded and it would be another hit with the then-important JF/F crowds, the first one also forgetting the "bird theme" artwork. This album is the first (to my knowledge, anyway) where Chick Corea invests into synthesizers and his choice of synth sounds is sometimes debatable, but this issue will gradually increase some more with the next albums and widen to other JR/F KB players of the era, no doubt pushed by the new synths appearing on the market, although he (Chick) still relies on Fender Rhodes , Yamaha organ and clavinet as well..

Quickly glancing over the album's track list, you'll see that the title track is part of a series of three short Corea-penned piano-only interludes meant to separate more important works; What had been plainly obvious on HOTSG is now even more reinforced, especially in the opening Stanley Clarke- penned Vulcan Worlds: RTF is more of a jazz-funk group than a jazz-rock group. Indeed Clarke's bass playing features a now-famous technique, the slapping, invented/perfected by him and it would drive him to jazz superstardom. The White-penned Shadow Of Lo, is another funky track (more in the Herbie Hancock manner), but don't feature the excessive bass slaps, and while still cruising at 100 MPH, the track modulates more. Lenny White's drumming is close what Cobham could've played on this very track. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy is obviously a return to the previous outstanding album (no synths used) and is IMHO the best track of the album.

The flipside opens on the collectively-written Earth Juice is more in the Mahavishnu Orchestra style and matches easily as highlight the previous side's closing Beyond track. Most of you have been waiting for the 14-mins+ Song to the Pharoah King, a slow starter with Corea's synth (although here probably some of his better choices) slowly marching on ahead, but returning to his Fender Rhodes for the torrid splendid middle section and an incandescent finale.

While I wouldn't call this album (WHIKYB) essential, certainly not compared to the absolute masterpiece of 7th Galaxy or the crowd-adored Romantic Warrior, but it is still quite an enjoyable RTF and certainly dierves to be discovered soon. As a matter of fact, this writer not being a fan of Romantic Warrior (see that review),n this might just be the classic line=up's best album.

Report this review (#169558)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've been listening to this album and "No Mystery" for the last week or so, and to say I have been impressed would be a huge understatement. I went back to my review of RETURN TO FOREVER's debut, and was surprised I rated it only 3 stars. So I broke it out for a listen today then it all came back to me. The debut is very much a mellow, Latin flavoured album with no lead guitar. It's still really good, but for my money the ones that follow it and "Light As A Feather" are much more appealing. I mean look at this lineup people ! Chick Corea, Lenny White, Al DiMeola and Stanley Clarke ! These four guys are near, or at the very top of their proffesions.

"Vulcan Worlds" sounds so good to open with those liquid keys, bass and drums. DiMeola comes and goes. Some in your face synths from Chick. Everything sounds so amazing here. Love the drumming especially. Corea takes the lead before 3 minutes. DiMeola shines 4 1/2 minutes in. Clarke's turn 5 minutes in. Fabulous guitar before 7 minutes. A calm with keys follows. Check out White to end it. "Where Have I Loved You Before" features Chick alone playing these beautiful melodies on his piano. "Shadow Of Lo" opens with such gorgeous piano melodies. Drums and bass join in around a minute. It's still pastoral as tasteful guitar joins in. It gets aggressive 3 1/2 minutes in. What a great sound ! A change 5 1/2 minutes in to a funky sound. "Where Have I Danced With You Before" is another short song with piano melodies only. It sounds so good though.

"Beyond The Seventh Galaxy" again another song that opens with those beautiful liquid piano notes. A full sound comes in quickly this time, as drums pound it out. This part reminds me of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. Killer drumming 2 minutes in.This song has a connection with their previous album called coincedently "Hymn Of The Seventh galaxy". "Earth Juice" has this catchy beat as DiMeola lights it up. This is one funky tune man. Infectious. "Where have I Known You Before" is made up of more piano melodies from Chick. "Song To The Pharoah" is the over 14 minute closer. It opens with synths that lead the way until a change before 3 minutes when it kicks into gear. Amazing sound 5 1/2 minutes in. The drumming is fantastic ! The bass from Clarke 6 1/2 minutes in has my full attention. The tempo and moods change until a nice jazzy melody 8 1/2 minutes in. Some great guitar joins in as bass throbs and drums pound. Check out the keys after 10 1/2 minutes as it calms down. This proggy song continues to unfold it's wonders right to the end.

A very solid 4 stars and a must for Fusion fans. This and "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy" are my favourite RETURN TO FOREVER albums.

Report this review (#182635)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
5 stars Where have I heard this before?

Nowhere actually, this album is one of a kind for its time. Not sure why it has fewer ratings/reviews than Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, Romantic Warrior and even to their debut, but this album, nonetheless, is Return to Forever's peak compositonally speaking, while as musicians they would get more techincal on the famous, more prog-oriented, Romantic Warrior.

Where Have I Known You Before is the first album with guitar-maestro Al Di Meola, while still very young(19 years-old!) thus not showing his finest capabilities, that is his ground-breaking shredding style as he would do in Romantic Warrior, he still showcases great textures and solos to the band, something Bill Connors didn't manage that well with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Besides that addition, Chick Corea adds to his keyboard-set the synthesizers (and clavinet) Return to Forever is well-known of, and in what a classy and professional way he manages to play them for the first time! The rhythm section was getting better with each album, that is Stanley with his funky and complex bass lines and Lenny with his energetic drumming.

The album starts-off with a typical fusion composition, 'Vulcan Words', that showcases unstoppable drumming and constant bass thrilling your ears plus the new additions of Corea's synth in a splendid melodic solo, then Al with a gratifying solo and finally Stanley with his solo.

The album continues with 'Where Have I Loved You Before', a jazz piece only meant for the one and only Chick Corea in his magical piano. Chick Corea demonstrates his most sincere and delightful piano touches, something that made him a well-recognised 'piano'(and jazz) player.

That lovely piece soon ends and what actually did was to make an excellent passage to the eternal love that 'The Shadow of Lo' always gives to me with it's inital keyboard palette of notes. However that emotion this song gives me lasts for the first half of the tune. The second half is a totally different story, it returns to the speedy fusion style of the opener with the fast paced synths and rhythm, every now and then adding some really funky substance where Meola adds a brilliant guitar solo.

The album returns to the solo piano section that 'Where Have I Loved You Before' presented, this time with 'Where Have I Danced With You Before' which presents a more robust feel compared to the former but still maintaining it's delightness, like many of Corea's solo piano pieces.

The pace of the album returns to its brisk jazzy form with 'Beyond the Seventh Galaxy', while definitely short in length compared to the two previous jazz fusion songs, this one is still capable of showing their abilities as musicians and composers. It's actually a remake of 'Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy', this time with synths, showing what that album would have sounded with that addition.

Continuing with the short fusion songs comes up 'Earth Juice', this one being the only one that can be considered rather repetitive and not on par to the rest of the songs, with it's constant simple drumming, Al and Chick add some few variations which are far from being either really exciting or creative, which in the end it doesn't keep the listener's attention for long. Fortunately it's short and doesn't damage much the album's flow.

Approaching to the end we got the last of Corea's solo piano tunes, 'Where Have I Known You Before', indeed the most beautiful and delicate of the three of them.

The final track is the Return to Forever epic entitled no less majestic than 'Song to the Pharoah Kings'. Opening in such a refined way with the synths and subtle organ, you really can't predict what comes next. After two minutes of elegance the track really starts to take shape, follows a semi-dissonant and chaotic passage, it then all evolves into an ingenious and polished track full of exciting and creative keyboards, a really pulverizing guitar solo in the middle, and all this within a stupendous rhythm.

Where Have I Known You Before is essentially Return to Forever's magnum opus in the creative and composition side. It features the perfect blend of the band's first two albums' latin classiness and subtlety with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy's jazz rock powder. This is the album that Return to Forever should be known-of, it simply has it all what made Return to Forever one of the classic Jazz Fusion bands alongside Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra back in the 70's.

Essential Jazz Rock album.

Report this review (#244686)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Classic RTF album with their best ever line-up and most representative sound.

I really love RTV debut (or, to be more correct - Chic Corea's solo album "Return To Forever", which is often counted as RTF debut) for excellent atmosphere of Latin jazz, Airto Moreiro percussion and Flora Purim voice. But, after one more album of similar (but not so original) music, RTF became a hot driven jazz-rock band. With quite different line-up and very different music. This album is second word of RTF MKII. And if their first previous album was radical change in style and almost revolution in sound, this one is more matured, better played and more technically competent work.

Even if Chick's keyboards sound is still very important component, newcomer guitarist Al Di Meola brings his extremely fast and energetic guitar there. Lenny White and Stanley Clarke both are excellent there, so you have very competent excellent work of almost all-stars team.

Compositions are enough different, musicians interplay is of a highest level. You will hardly find more technically excellent team. Absolute classic of style from mid 70-s.

(As personally for me, I would like to hear more soul in their sound there to be able to name this album excellent). But 4,5 ? for sure!

Report this review (#273286)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The perfect line up,a young and still little known guitar player who's about to dazzle us with his first solo work (IN THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN) a fantastic and innovative bass player who's gonna offer us a handfull of gripping albums, a precise drummer as fast as the light ( kind of COBHAM spiritual son ) and the catalyst component that starts the musical alchemy, a wounderful composer and keyboard player. RETURN TO FOREVER is one of the most exciting band in jazz fusion with WEATHER REPORT,MAHAVISHNU,SOFT MACHINE and HERBIE HANCOCK to name just a few ones. The album starts with a STANLEY CLARKE powerful piece ( VULCAN WORLDS ) and ends with a foolishpart ( SONGS TO THE PHAROAH KINGS )clocking at 14 mn, filled with stunning melodies and technicaly brilliant. Between those outstanding times , a whole world of amazing sounds and creativity. Virtuosity is but used to serve music.Amazingly, the drummer brings a refined and melodic song ( THE SHADOW OF LO ) and to perfect the thing COREA is the binder that fills all the empty spaces with his colourful keys. This recording is a strong sign of what's coming after ( NO MISTERY, ROMANTIC WARRIOR ) 4 stars
Report this review (#302309)
Posted Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars With Al Di Meola added to the line up as a replacement for Bill Connors, the prog rocking side of RTF takes off for real now, though there isn't much difference with Hymn of the Sevent Galaxy, meaning we get virtuoso focused energy fusion with a funky backbone and nice dots of melody.

The sound got more polished then on previous albums, with a lighter drum sound and lots of synthetic keyboard sounds. The melodies sometimes lend a romantic Latin flavor, as can be witnessed on The Shadow of Lo but mostly this is highly dexterous action fusion with a central position for musicianship, sometimes overshadowing the compositions which I don't always find that memorable. Beyond the 7th Galaxy and Song to the Pharaoh Kings are the exceptions in the positive sense, especially that last one is a killer track ranking amongst my favorite RTF tracks.

Where Have I known You Before is a very strong album if you appreciate great musicianship. But despite all that, I keep having some reservation when it comes to this band, it's a question of taste I presume, but I much prefer the more emotionally charged fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock and early Weather Report. The closing track is phenomenal, but I miss some heart and soul in the remainder of the material.

Report this review (#305563)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This was the first album by the most well known lineup of this, one of the greatest jazz/rock fusion bands of all time, and while it is a great album, they still hadn't quite found that classic sound. the performances are spectacular, but, for the most part, the compositions had not yet ventured into that fusion/symphonic prog blend that made "Romantic Warrior" such a masterpiece.

The fusion is great, but the standout track has to be beyond The Seventh Galaxy, an expansion, and improvement on the title track from the previous album.

My only real complaint about this album is the underuse of Al DiMeola. He seems almost non- existant at times.

Report this review (#394203)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Where Have I Know You Before ? 1974 (3/5) 11 ? Best Song: Where Have I?anything?before.

This is the point where I can start to see the style growing a tiny bit cold on me. It's a good style, hard-boiled and stable for what it is ? takes massive chops, but I can't say I'd love hundreds of albums in a row where folks blindly play whatever sounds complicated. Sometimes I want a ballad. Sometimes I want a real window into the aspect of human emotions. As hard as I try, I just can't seem to relate to the likes of 'The Shadow of Lo'. They are more intent on creating a mood than they are evoking some deep sense of emotion. It's finally growing stale, their music for music's sake. Al Di Meola is still on board although they seem less interested in showcasing him. Half the time I don't even notice he's there. So in general, the album comes off as quite boring. There are a few sparse raindrops of enlightenment, though. Any of the songs that begin with Where Have I (seen you, loved you, danced with you) before, are brilliant little piano ditties that mesh so well between the epic, long winded jamming. Half of this album has a late night aura to it, and when the guitar does come in fully for 'Beyond the Seventh Galaxy' it's a minor treat. Where Have I is a solid release, but they're sticking far too much to their formless formula of mindless wailing to really hit me anymore.

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Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Very intense work of 4 jazz-rock geniuses Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. It may be a little less "classic" then "Romantic Warrior" of two years later, but absolutely superior musicianship. Wonderful compositions and truely well played by the best musicians of their time on their instruments. Stanley Clarke became famous for his bass playing technique and legendary guitarrist Al DiMeola's carriere was only beginning here. Fusion classics like Vulcan Worlds , Shadow of Lo and superior fusion symphony Song To The Pharoah Kings are connected to each other by the small piano pieces of Chick Corea, all of them beginning with "Where have I...". This makes the album a concept work of art, a must have!
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Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return to Forever sound more confident here than on the transitional Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, the band having adjusted to the shift in their sound and becoming more accomplished in their compositions. Al DiMeola joins on guitar this time around and his guitar contributions whilst comparatively low key are quite individual and help distinguish the band from being yet another Mahavishnu clone. Stanley Clarke's bass sound is both more prominent and more distinctive this time around, and Chick Corea himself has clearly been tinkering with the synthesisers, incorporating them into the band's sound with a deft touch. With funk influences being even more important than previously - Earth Juice shows this side of the band particularly well - Return To Forever once again find a distinctive fusion sound to call their own, distinct from that of their first two albums but not as generic as Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. This establishes the groundwork for the final phase of their career nicely.
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Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know why I had been resistant at Return to Forever for years. I think I do, when I was younger I thought a lot of fusion was just boring technical showoffmanship. Even when I bought Romantic Warrior (used LP at a St. Vincent de Paul) in 2006, it has some nice ideas, but then I dismissed it. Years later it really grew on me, and I noticed how much prog leaning that particular album had. Then much more recently I went for Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, and really pleasantly shocked with Light as a Feather (with the Brazlian approach thanks to Flora Purim and Airto Moreira). Now it's Where Have I known You Before. This album find Chick Corea finally incorporating synthesizers along with electric piano and clavinet. Bill Connors was now out of the picture, in comes an unknown Berklee student named Al DiMeola to fill in, and this is the classic lineup that would last for two more albums (including the ever popular Romantic Warrior). The album takes a more calm, refined approach, where Hymn if the Seventh Galaxy was pretty obviously taking on to the more raw sound of Mahavishnu Orchestra (but without violin). The "Where Have I..." title variants are basically piano interludes that go with the full-band stuff. "Vulcan Worlds" is the opening cut and what a great piece this is, especially the synth passages. Stanley Clarke did a version of it on his self-entitled second album from 1974 on Nemperor. "The Shadow of Lo" is more calm and relaxed, but there are a couple of electric piano riffs that sounded like they were taken off Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire. "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy" was an obvious sequel reference to Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, this is pretty much a straight up fusion piece you come to expect from this era, a great piece nonetheless. "Earth Juice" is an interesting one. Lenny White does that disco hi-hat thing, and Al DiMeola gives a nice rock feel to the guitar. The overuse of hi-hat may turn off many, because it became such a bad disco cliche that it became one of the reasons for the bad name of disco (of course having the campy Village People in the late '70s didn't help matters any). In 1974 that hi-hat approach had luckily not been done to death, and there's too much of a rock attitude to be actually disco. You can't get Studio 54 dancing with this piece (and beside Studio 54 didn't even exist in '74). "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" is over 14 minutes and what a wonderful piece. Of the RTF albums I have, I will have to say this is by far my favorite. Great stuff that I can recommend to all fusion fans.
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Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars In the early 70's, there were several bands that were considered influential in the jazz-fusion movement that existed and these band's helped shape fusion music to come. These bands included groups like Weather Report, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, the latter of which was founded and headed over by pianist Chick Corea. Corea, of course, had already established a name for himself, even before he created this band in 1971 by playing on some of Miles Davis' most lauded releases and also doing some of his own solo work. Corea created Return to Forever in an effort to make his music more accessible. This he did with an ever changing line-up with only him and bassist Stanley Clarke being consistent members of the band.

When interest in the fusion movement was peaking, the band released its fourth album, the commercial-sounding titled 'Where Have I Known You Before', in 1974. This album would feature a simple quartet consisting of himself and Clarke along with a guitarist also with a reknown name, Al Di Meola, and long-time percussionist for the band Lenny White. This album would continue Corea's quest to make fusion that would connect easily with the audience and work to win over new fans to the genre. Another big difference with this album is that in the project's albums in the past, he stuck with his basic piano and electric piano for his own keyboard contributions, but this album marks the first time he started using synthesizers in the band's line-up of instruments and this gives the sound even more versatility. However, it also runs the danger of sounding a bit dated, and that is the album's main downfall.

The synths become readily apparent in the first track 'Vulcan Worlds', a 7 minute opener which feature synths and keys galore, but also makes time for Di Meola to show off his skills. Corea also brings in the acoustic sound of before by not abandoning his electric piano. The result here is a great fast and furious fusion track that captures the listener's attention, however, the sections featuring the synth definitely sound dated, mainly because of the specific sounds that Corea emphasizes. It's not enough to ruin the track however, and it overall becomes a strong opener that towards the end finally settles down as it comes to a conclusion.

The next track is the first of a trilogy of tracks spread throughout the album that hinge on the title and subject of the album. These tracks are somewhat short and act as interludes, mostly featuring Corea soling. The first of these is 'Where Have I Loved You Before' which is a lovely piano solo. This is the mode that he uses to connect to his audience, but it also carries the album into the next track 'The Shadow of Lo', another 7 minute track that has a softer and laid-back groove when the full band joins in again. Here the synth plays the main motif and expands on it also allowing the guitar to contribute later on. This one continues with the more accessible feel and adds a funky edge later on.

At this point, the album features some shorter tracks remaining around the 3 ' 4 minute mark. This section starts off with 'Where Have I Danced With You Before', the second in the trilogy of interludes, but this time it features a happier and faster tempo, but is again Corea soloing on piano. 'Beyond the Seventh Galaxy' brings in a heavy progressive edge with plenty of guitar and keyboard interplay as this quick and lively track plays through. The second side of the album opens with 'Earth Juice' which has a catchy and driving rhythm with funky guitar scratching. The guitar continues to take the lead through most of this track playing off of a repetitive riff. This section of the album ends with the last of the interlude triology 'Where Have I Know You Before', once again featuring Corea playing a soft and gentle (yet moving) piano solo.

The final track wraps up the album with the 14 minute long 'Song to the Pharoah Kings'. It all begins with a synth solo backed up by sustained organ chords. This continues on for a few minutes before the full band starts to come in providing changing backdrops while differing synth effects and solos play along. Throughout the track there is a very busy percussion and a running bass solo which give the rhythm section (Clarke and White) time to show off a bit while providing an extended and catchy solo. As the track continues, both the guitar and electric piano get to also do some soloing. All in all, its an excellent fusion track that brings it all to an impressive close.

This album is quite a tour-de-force of the styles of fusion the band was capable of producing and how the mix of heavy and soft tracks along with accessible and sometimes more complex tracks were the way of Corea and the band attempting to bring their music to a wider audience. Sometimes the music is lyrical (though it's all instrumental) and other times it is fun and engaging fusion. This style of playing and performing brought Corea's band out into the spotlight along with the other famous fusion bands of the time, and this was a well-earned place for him. While some of his themes were a little schmaltzy (based on Scientology beliefs), the music itself overpowers all of that. The real weaknesses of the album are the places where the synth sounds dated, but it isn't always the case. The best sections are when he reverts back to the electric piano and regular piano and also allow the other musicians to shine. The music isn't always progressive, but there is enough of it here to keep it interesting. Overall, I would give it 3.5 stars, but because of the talent here and the way the music can be presented, it rounds up to 4 stars. A great album by an important fusion band.

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Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | Review Permalink

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