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Stanley Clarke

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Stanley Clarke Children Of Forever album cover
3.20 | 39 ratings | 5 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Children Of Forever (10:42)
2. Unexpected Days (5:53)
3. Bass Folk Song (Clarke) (7:59)
4. Butterfly Dreams (6:52)
5. Sea Journey (16:26)

Total time 47:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Stanley Clarke / bass fiddle, electric bass, arrangements (1)

- Dee Dee Bridgewater / vocals
- Andy Bey / vocals
- Pat Martino / electric & 12-string guitars
- Chick Corea / electric & acoustic pianos, clavinet, arrangements (2-5), producer
- Arthur Webb / flute
- Lenny White / drums, tambourine

Releases information

Artwork: Jim O'Connell

LP Polydor ‎- PD 5531 (1973, US)

CD One Way Records ‎- OW 30340 (1994, US)
CD Verve Records ‎- B0009788-02 (2007, US) Remastered by Ellen Fitton

Thanks to Stooge for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STANLEY CLARKE Children Of Forever ratings distribution

(39 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STANLEY CLARKE Children Of Forever reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars First solo album of RTF's bassist, the Chick Corea-produced Children Of Forever is very much a product of its time, with its cosmic gatefold artwork and its peace & love title, and it was recorded between the first two phases of Return To Forever (the exiting Moreira/Farrell and incoming Bill Connors and the album was released on the Polydor label), so it's quite obvious the mother project's paw is all over this jam-packed album (around 25 minutes aside). I believe this is around the time where Chick Corea told Stanley to move onto the electric bass guitar, or else he would be changing RTF's bassist, so Clarke obliged ? and luckily so for him and us),, since he became a master at it. But in the present album, he plays the contrabass on all tracks except the extravaganza piece closing the first side. The album also features a good flute, but obviously not the former RTF Joe Farrell's, but Arthur Webb's.

Amazingly enough this album starts with a very Kobaian near-11 mins title track piece, as Vander's bunch could easily claim it as theirs; from the electric piano led jazz-rock (courtesy of RTF's Corea) to the Vander-like drumming (courtesy of RTG's White) to very Orffian-like chants (almost incantations) and only Clarke's very strolling bass can effectively instil a doubt that you're not on Seventh Record label product. The following Unexpected Days is a bit less Zeuhl-ish, but the general mood can still evoke it, since the lingering impressions from the preceding piece are still alive. Andy Bey and Bridgewater's vocals are definitely more jazzy (Dee Dee sometimes close to crooning). Don't be fooled by the name of the following almost-instrumental track, which has nothing to do with folk, but everything to do with a bass guitar extravaganza, an awesome showpiece, where Clarke scats a bit like lionel Hampton did on his albums.

The flipside only features two tracks, opening with the album's jazziest 7-mins Butterfly Dreams, and it is the album's low point, not helped by the cheesy Bey vocals. The 17- mins+ Sea Journey starts very much in the mood of its predecessor, but evolves soon into an outstanding excursion in the depths of the oceans, floating on a superb lengthy bowed bass stroll, before leaving guitarist Martino some breathing space. Only the vocals are a bit cumbersome, but don't really hinder the moods either. Let's just say that I'd have no problems with having this CPF album as totally instrumental, because it could stand it easily without modifications.

Strangely enough, this debut solo album is often overlooked by fans (and sometimes books and websites), as my utterances are the first on this page, whereas the other albums are much more reviewed. This is a bit sad, because COF is a great album, despite the fact that Stanley doesn't use the electric bass, which would make him a celebrity. Maybe this is why JR/F fans tend to ignore (their losses) this excellent album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars The vocals no doubt will be the "make it or break it" for most music fans. Stanley's debut is an instrumental jewel to be sure and for me rivals his self-titled follow-up as my favourite from him. The vocals are provided by a male and a female and lets just say it's hard for me not to smile when either of them are singing. Both are so into their vocals and i'm sure most would roll their eyes at them. I don't mind them but I wouldn't play this in front of anyone either (haha). It's hard not to compare this to Chick Corea's debut album "Return To Forever". The title being the obvious link. Chick does play some amazing electric piano on this record and he also produced it. He adds clavinet and also acoustic piano on one track only. Lenny White is his usual brilliant self on the drum kit. We also get flute and some guitar.

I was glad to see Hugues mention the Zeuhl flavour on the opening track because to my ears it was pretty strong. We also get that Zeuhl flavour on the closing number. It's just so cool to hear Clarke throbbing away while White pounds it out as we get that Zeuhl rhythm with Corea playing electric piano over top. The male vocals are the focus though to start on the title track "Children Of Forever" then it becomes Zeuhl-like around 1 1/2 minutes in. It's pretty intense after 3 minutes. The flute comes and goes throughout. Vocals are back before 6 1/2 minutes. Female backing vocals 8 1/2 minutes in to the end. "Unexpected Days" is mellow with a light beat, keys, flute and bass as the female vocals join in. It picks up after a minute as male vocals join in. These contrasts continue. I like the instrumental section 3 minutes in. Love the electric piano. She's back 4 minutes in. "Bass Folk Song" opens with flute and more then Clarke comes to the fore with a bass solo. Electric piano and flute join in as the drums continue. The bass is chunky. It's intense after 2 minutes and we get some clavinet too. Great sound again 6 1/2 minutes in as it turns intense.

"Butterfly Dreams" opens with acoustic piano as male vocals join in along with bass, drums and flute. Intricate but uptempo guitar comes in when the vocals stop. Vocals are back and he's doing his Sinatra impression. So much going on 5 minutes in. "Sea Journey" is the 16 1/2 minute closer. Flute, drums, keys and bass standout early then the female vocals join in. Love the instrumental section before 3 minutes with the bass, drums and electric piano dominating. Zeuhlish is the word. The intensity lifts around 6 minutes and vocals return. Bowed bass after 8 minutes with electric piano and drums creates an amazing soundscape after the vocals have stopped. Flute before 12 minutes then the intensity breaks 12 1/2 minutes and the vocals return once again. There's that Zeuhl flavour again after 14 minutes. Nice.

For me this is a solid 4 stars but buyer beware as the vocals aren't for everyone.

Review by stefro
2 stars Better known as one quarter of Chick Corea's Return To Forever circa their golden early-seventies era, Clarke was one of jazz-rock's foremost bassists, a seriously-talented technician who took the bass guitar to places Chris Squire could only dream of. His work with Return To Forever included all three of that group's classic albums - 'Where Have I Known You Before', 'Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy' and 'Romantic Warrior' - yet his solo work never quite reached the same heights despite a prolific output over the decades. This is where it all began, however, and in a distinctly un-fusion fashion. Issued in 1973, 'Children Of The Future' is an odd beast indeed, a spacey mixture of lounge-jazz, bass-funk and trad elements that will have the listener scratching his head well after the sixth or seventh listen. Fans of fusion may find it all a bit odd - this writer certainly did - yet there are still moments to savor. The opening title-track takes a seriously eclectic journey through Clarke's extrapolating bass movements, complete with funk touches almost too deft to be heard, yet what is most infuriating about 'Childen Of Forever' is the closing epic 'Sea Journey', A beautifully- wrought, wonderfully expressive and harmonic piece, this lengthy track is almost ruined by some of the most off-putting vocal warbling one can imagine, leaving one wishing that Clarke had put his foot down(maybe on a bass pedal?) and made 'Sea Journey' an all-instrumental affair. It isn't, so what you have is a closing piece that is part wonderful, part infuriating. It's a good way to sum this lovingly-crafted debut up - parts are brilliant, others certainly aren't - yet fans of esoteric jazz moods should be in dreamland. An interesting album then from a true exponent of his art, 'Children Of Forever' sure does have it's's just some of them are genuine moments to forget. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014
Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Most music fans on this website will recognize Stanley Clarke for one of two reasons: his excellent contributions to Return to Forever, or his pop-funk solo work, which mostly consists of radio-friendly beats and ballads. This release, Clarke's first solo effort, fits alongside his work with Return to Forever. It's an atmospheric combination of jazz styles and mind-expanding grooves. As a casual fusion fan, Children of Forever entertains me in much the same way as a Return to Forever album does: a '70's jazz diversion that combines just enough energy, art, camp, and soul to make for an enjoyable experience.

The album opens with one of the highlight tracks, moving from cosmic abstract stylings to a ferocious rhythm featuring exciting keyboard work by Corea. Lenny White's drumming is dynamic and busy, but underscored in production which helps give the album a sort of drifting or subtle feel. Both players do a great job throughout, especially during the extended solo passages in "Sea Journey". "Unexpected Days" and "Butterfly Dreams" are not as interesting; they feature the pair of vocalists crooning out abstract lyrics with a very strong lounge-singer style. It adds a heavy element of '70's style that crosses over to camp throughout. I appreciate that Children of Forever is a product of it's time, so the vocals don't ruin the experience, but they probably will for some listeners. The inclusion of flutes throughout the album are another great addition. The entire album has a bright and uplifting feel.

Finally, let's talk about Clarke's bassing. The guy really is one of the greats. On Children of Forever he is playing a combination of electric and acoustic, though the acoustic work definitely stands out. This album is a great showcase of his playing. He is a very busy player, accentuating the album's smooth melodies and underscoring the solo passages. "Bass Folk Song," an instrumental, is probably the highlight of the album and bassing at its finest.

All in all a fine tip-toe into fusion territory for prog fans, standing up nicely alongside the Return to Forever discography.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Latest members reviews

2 stars This is Stanley Clark's first album, he chose to surround himself with some of the best in the business including the singer DEEDEE BRIDGEWATER whose performance I had the pleasure to see a few years ago. The giant PAT MARTINO holds the electric & 12-string guitars and LENNY WHITE, who held a pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2773768) | Posted by OctopusFive | Thursday, June 30, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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