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Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Return To Forever Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy album cover
4.20 | 378 ratings | 32 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (3:31)
2. After the Cosmic Rain (8:25)
3. Captain Seņor Mouse (9:01)
4. Theme to the Mothership (8:49)
5. Space Circus, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 (5:42)
6. Game Maker (6:46)

Total Time 42:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / organ, electric & acoustic pianos, harpsichord, gong, producer & arranger
- Bill Connors / electric & acoustic guitars
- Stanley Clarke / electric & fuzz basses, bell tree
- Lenny White / drums, percussion, bongos, congas

Releases information

Artwork: Don Brautigan

LP Polydor ‎- PD 5536 (1973, US)

CD Polydor ‎- 825 336-2 (1991, US) Remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RETURN TO FOREVER Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy Music

RETURN TO FOREVER Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy ratings distribution

(378 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RETURN TO FOREVER Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Hymn of the seventh galaxy" is a very good fusion album but the 2 main bad points are the lack of sound depth and the VERY bland electric guitar sound, even on the solos: indeed, Al Di Meloa is not the guitarist here. All the tracks have the same style! Lenny White's drums are ABSOLUTELY complex, fast and varied. Chick Corea gives the listener an overdose of very complex electric piano solos. The bass is very complex and fast too. The keyboards mostly consist in electric piano and discreet organ. The music is always fast solos oriented. It may become a bit boring and repetitive after a while. The technical performance is OUTSTANDING, but the less good thing is the lack of originality and catchy melodies: the tracks are really impersonal and not really addictive. The complex and fast part on "After the Cosmic Rain" is particularly impressive. I rather recommend the more subtle and colorful "Romantic warrior" album, featuring Al DiMeola on guitars.
Review by The Owl
5 stars Jawdroppingly beautiful, inspired, raw, fierce and singularly unique!

I could spout adjectives forever, but the point being, this 3rd RTF offering was a blast of fresh air and a radical shift of direction for Chick, Stanley and Lenny. After the airy Latin-jazz of the first two discs, Chick cranked it up to 11, made Stanley buy an electric bass and bought on board a young Bill Connors on guitar. The result is nothing less than some of the most inspired ferocious fusion this side of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Blazing unison passages otherworldly melodies and playful volleying back and forth of phrases make this a real edge of the seat listen. The frighteningly tight unison passages of the title track served notice this was a band to be reckoned with. With relatively primitive musical technology, these fearsome foursome put forth very bold musical ideas that transcended these limitations.

There';s not one weak track on here, but if I had to pick highlights, definitely the title track, "Captain Senior Mouse", a dizzyingly complex Spanish flavored piece, "Theme To The Mothership" on which Bill Conors really tears it up on guitar and Chick does a blazing ring modulated Rhodes solo that would've been right at home on a Soft Machine or National Health album.

I may ruffle a few feathers here, but for this Owl, Bill Connors was way ahead of Al DiMeola in terms of just sheer expressiveness and soulfulness in his playing. Sure, DiMeola was the total chopsmeister (and made sure that you didn't forget it), but Bill Connors had a bluesy soulfulness and emotional honesty in his Clapton-meets-Coltrane informed guitar style that I just don't hear from DiMeola at all. Bill's finest moments on this album are found on "Theme to The Mothership", Space Circus" "The Game Maker" and "Captain Senor Mouse".

Stanley Clarke is really giving it his all on these songs with mercilessly insistent bass parts. His sound here somewhat gets in the way of hearing the full extent of his brilliance, due to a less than ideal instrument (a rather muddy sounding Gibson EB-3 bass, which he shortly traded in for the crisp, clean Alembic). Even still, you can stuill feel the brilliance! And of course, Lenny White provides an equally merciless rythmic pulse that while intricate and complex, never gets in the way of the songs momentum.

THis is one of those discs that really gets the blood going, so turn it up to 11 and fall under its wonderful spell!

Review by Dick Heath
5 stars One of the essential top ten albums of jazz rock. Following in the heels of the other Miles Davis Group spin-off, Mahavishu Orchestra into true jazz rock (from RTF's original Latin jazz base) and getting there before Zawinul & co.

Powerful heavy jazz rock, driven by one of the best rhythms sections of the period, Clarke and White, with Corea and Bill Connors taking the lead. Connors was later accused of being a Holdsworth copyist on some of his 80's solo albums, but you have remind those detractor of his innotative guitar here, (and some years before anybody had heard of Holdsworth in the USA). Every tune is a great composition, each with a powerful arrangement, played brilliantly. Thrills hearing it 30 odd years later.

Footnote: Some would argue that real jazz rockers prefer "Hymn", while the prog rockers go for "Romantic Warrior" and the purer jazzers the eponymous RTF album.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Even if you put Canterbury prog aside, the line between jazz-rock/fusion and prog can be quite blurred. As regards the five main 70s fusion bands that were spawned by Miles Davis jazz-rock experiments of the late 60s (Miles In The Sky, Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way and Jack Johnson), I think Progarchives have got it just right. The two most prog-friendly bands, Chick Corea's Return To Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra are listed in the archives, whereas Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, Tony Williams' Lifetime and Weather Report (by far my least favourite) aren't.

But even Return To Forever had three distinct phases, and the middle phase, which featured the quartet of Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke (the only player present through all the phases aside from Corea himself), drummer Lenny White and first Bill Connors, then Al DiMeola on guitar, is generally the most interesting and prog-friendly. The quartet released four albums, Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy, Where Have I Known You Before?, No Mystery and Romantic Warrior between 1973 and 1976.

Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy is so full of virtuostic and surreal playing that it's hard to point to the moments that stand out. The title track comes swirling at you and then launches into an outstanding proggy groove, Corea's keyboards are particularly engrossing on this, but it's also got some of my favourite Lenny White drumming ever. Bill Connors' jarring guitar style isn't totally to my taste but it seems appropriate for the galatic themes that fill the album. On the Clarke composition After The Cosmic Rain, Corea's delicate electric piano runs really convey the mood, and while I don't like Connors' guitar on this one, there's a great distorted solo in the middle (but I can't tell which instrument does it!) before Corea returns with one of my favourite electric piano solos of all time. Captain Senor Mouse is a real humdinger too with some psych-tinged organ, and a lengthy Latin excursion, more electric piano wizardry and one of Connors' better solos to wrap it up. It's important not to understate the brilliance of Clarke and White during pieces like this one.

Theme To The Mothership is another of those great groovers, with a tad too much soloing from Connors before another Corea special redeems the piece. The first part of Space Circus is mellow and dreamy, providing some respite from the relentless fierce attacks that the band continually carry out. Of course, it too starts groovin' pretty quickly, with some great hooks and changes of tempo and direction. The stately, slightly eerie The Game Maker has some noteworthy electric piano and Connors doing some nice work on acoustic guitar, before a spot of pointless noodling interferes. Some excellent interplay between Corea and Connors, however then ensures a suitably stunning ending to a great album.

While I still tend to recommend Romantic Warrior to RTF newcomers, many of the band's greatest moments are on this dazzling cosmic album! ... 79% on the MPV scale

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars And on we go.

Another musical journey lead by Chick Corea and his RTF band mates, Clarke on Bass duties, Connors on Guitars and White on drums & percussions. And what marvelous musicians they all are.

This album is an attack on the ears of the listener, delivering dynamic, relentless pieces of music, with complex, over the top drumming, guitar improvisations and very good keyboard playing. You are perpetually bombarded with these instrumental pieces of music, which do not seem to let go of their initial energy and keep on rocking all through the album. I suggest you listen hard to the bass on this album, since all other instruments are easy to figure out.

The different tracks do not lose identity and do not blend into one another. Each track is distinguished from the others by the main tune. The improvisations around only strengthen the impact of every tune.

They begin with the title track, a nice short tune to get things warmed up. This track allows each to show his abilities. The drums are everywhere on this one, the bass is very good as well, and the harpsichord gives it the final touch of softness that contradicts the slightly crude guitar sound. Then we move to the time "After the cosmic rain", which has this spacey, jazzy feeling to it. Here again, White is all over the place with his drums. The organ plays a very important supporting role here, and completes the guitar part very well. After contemplating about the main tune they go over to some improvisations a little bit with the guitar experimenting with sounds. This starts slowly and with what seems to be a hesitant guitarist, but then things get more dynamic and complex until the return to the original tune. Captain Senor Mouse is Corea's time to show his improvisation skills with the keyboards (harpsichord) and Clarke's bass playing abilities. At the end of this track Connors returns and shows his guitar playing in case we have forgotten it. Theme to mothership is another show of power by Connors and Clarke. This is perhaps the weakest track, focusing mainly on improvisations without much more than that, but the musicianship alone is worth listening to. Space Circus pt. 1 starts with mellow sounding keyboards, which is a bit of a surprise, since you would expect more of the insanity to go on. But this is a good brief time-out from this energetic creation. Then comes in part 2 with its groovy rhythm and starts in a more calm way that previous tracks, but it slowly develops as the guitar gains strength. The bass here is, again, very good. This one is less improvisation- focused and more inclined to give us a groovy mood music that is repetitive but not tedious at all. The album closes with The game maker. Again we receive a calm opening with Corea playing softly while the acoustic guitar gently gives him the basis for going on. Then there is a fade in of the drums and the electric guitar comes in with the bass. They play for a bit, the guitar improvising a bit while the keyboards and the bass give it the basis. Then comes the part where everyone just bursts out and give their best playing. Devote time to figure out the bass paying here, it is worth it. The interplay between the keyboards and the guitar at the end is excellent and they finally join forces to give us a more powerful impression.

There is no single track that I can point out as the best here, since they all are very good and stand out. While you can remember clearly each tune and not be confused with what you heard, the different compositions blend perfectly with each other in terms of atmosphere and sound of the music. So we had here some great jazz, funky and rock music, excellent musicianship and show of hands. While Romantic Warrior is a great album that gets many accolades, one should not overlook this record. This is a good and solid album, which deserves its place in a prog cd collection. 4 stars.

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars This is some of the best heavy jazz rock out there. This is an example of four talented musicians that have one goal: to ROCK. Even the slow parts are always leading up to amazing climaxes and in-your-face musicianship. Of all the Return to Forever out there, this is the album that has the energy and innovativeness that I am looking for.

Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Can I use the term "face-melting" for jazz? Screw it, I'm going to, and if I offend some metalheads, so be it. This tune is short, but Return to Forever set the tone for what is coming next: FACE-MELTING jazz that is also tasteful and just plain fun.

After the Cosmic Rain. A cool groove and guitar harmony effect sets up the main theme, but just when this track dies down, you are rewarded with an incredible build of musical intensity that leads back to the refrain. White on drums is simply awesome: this guy cannot sit still (he's gotta be on some uppers), and this is one of those rare songs that I'm not sure Portnoy could emulate. AWESOME!

Captain Senor Mouse. If you thought the band had tired themselves out, you are wrong! Another great melody with excellent jams interspersed. Connors shows his quality on guitar toward the end (di Meola who?).

Theme to the Mothership. Possibly getting a bit formulaic here considered the last couple tunes, though Clarke's jaw-dropping grooves demonstrate that he's not about to be drowned out by Corea or Connors.

Space Circus. The laid-back intro might lull you to sleep, but when they get funky, you will stand no chance of snoozing. All of these guys are on the same page again, and the music shows that fullly. Yet another killer job by Connors on guitar.

The Game Maker. Similar to the previous song, it's only a matter of time before the band comes in and rocks, whether you like it or not. Great back-and-forth between the keyboard and guitar, while the bass and drums are mindblowing. Maybe not an epic conclusion, but effective.

If you like catchy tunes and virtuoso performances, you need this album. I guarantee you will not get bored or fall asleep to this stuff: you'll be more than happy to clean the floor or take out the trash while moving to this gem. A progressive jazz classic!

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Another steaming hot helping of jaw-dropingly complex and energetic jazz/rock fusion from the most enjoyable and exciting band in the game. Seventh Galaxy features a rock-oriented set of songs demanding quite a bit from the listener-- but the payoff is worth it. The compositions here are intricate and more cerebral than on other RTF releases, but are just as catchy and exciting to listen to. Connor's guitar may lack the finesse of DiMeola's, but his hard riffing, coupled with the never ending explosion of creative playing from the rhythm section makes this one a satisfying listen for the fusion fan.

While not as accessible as Romantic Warrior (which is more varied and elegant), Seventh Galaxy should be seriously considered by any fans of instrumental music; I can't imagine its dynamic and virtuosic sound disappointing.

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

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars RTF's first overhaul is a major one, and it can be seen this way: the first line-up was more of an early Weather Report, with Farrell's sax and flute as Wayne Shorter, while the second line=up with the appearance of a fiery guitarist can be seen more of Mahavishnu Orchestra-type of group. But the shuffle goes well beyond that: Gone are Purim's disputable vocals, while Farrell's always delightful flute also disappeared (taking away so of the sweet evocative passages from RTF's music), but the light bossa nova rhythms of Airto Moreira are replaced by the ex-Miles & Santana drummer Lenny White, whose drumming is much closer to Cobham (first era of MO), thus reinforcing the parallel I made just above. So with only Corea and Clarke remaining from the original line=up, the group also welcomed previously unknown Bill Connors on guitar, which showed a strong affinity to McLaughlin's fiery style. Recorded in NY in the summer of 73, the album again developed a bird theme artwork for an aerial gatefold sleeve.

Red hot jazz-rock or torrid fusion, such is the choice. The album opens on some cosmic sounds announcing the title track, but soon the tracks reaches cosmic sped with White's fluid and furious drumming, Connors' soaring guitar and Corea's amazing piano. The Clarke-penned Cosmic Rain is a very funky track, where Stanley doesn't hesitate to outdo every other bassist (jazz or rock) in terms of technicity and virtuosity, even using some fuzz bass ala Canterbury, well supported by Corea's Fender Rhodes. Captain Mouse is probably the album's best-known track with Corea's Rhodes ruling from its 200 MPH start to its much quieter middle section (he soars to stratospheric heights, while adding the odd organ lines over Connors' funky guitar lines. Mothership continues the 1000°C fusion with mind-blowing soloing, even if some of Chick's synth sounds could've been better advised. The two-parts Space Circus starts on an echoed Rhodes over sound effects for an intro, before the group gets mega-funky (not just Clarke, Connors is brilliant, White frankly at home and Chick his usual self. The closing game Maker is well in line with the rest of this fiery fusion-esque torrid jazz-rock, a Rhodes-drenched slow starter that gradually builds up to reach speed of light with Connors's incendiary guitar between Carlos, John and Larry.

Strangely enough, Connors will quit the group to pursue a solo career (a very confidential one to say the least, as he remained obscure forever) to concentrate on his acoustic playing, which might astound more than one expert since it was on electric guitar that his works were most stunning, his style hovering between McLaughlin and Larry Coryell. Nevertheless the album he recorded with RTF is simply the best of the group, even when including the previous lene-up's two albums. HOTSG is an astounding record that inspired itself on the early MO albums such as Birds Of Fire or Inner Mounting Flame, without being a carbon copy either. Undoubtedly the best RTF album, no matter what people will say about ADM's future admission and the famed but over=rated RW album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Chick Corea decided to change the bands sound in a major way. He wanted to be part of that fiery fusion sound like MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, and he succeeded big time. Lenny White on drums, and Bill Connors on guitar are the two new members, who join Stanley Clarke on bass, and Chick on keys.

"Hymn Of The seventh Galaxy" opens with a brief spacey soundscape before White comes in with some pretty amazing drumming. Ok, they're all actually playing at this point, it's just I can't help focus on White. Connors comes in before 2 minutes ripping it up. "After The Cosmic Rain" is the only song that wasn't composed by Corea, it's a Stanley Clarke tune and a good one. Clarke and Corea trade blows early as guitar and drums come in. The guitar soars above them all. Liquid keys follow, but then check out Clarke's fuzz bass solo that goes on and on. Back to the Clarke and Corea show before 6 minutes. "Captain Senor Mouse" has a driving rhythm to it. Connors lights it up a minute in. Liquid keys with relentless drums and bass 4 minutes in. Some nice guitar after 6 minutes but then he just starts to shred. So impressive.

"Theme To The Mothership" features keys and drums that standout early. The guitar comes in with a blistering attack. It settles somewhat with keys and bass 4 minutes in but it's building. Another calm 8 minutes in to the end. "Space Circus" is divided into two parts. The first section is laid back with keys leading the way. The second is more uptempo with some excellent guitar, killer bass lines and fantastic drumming before 4 minutes. Connors then lets loose. Oh My ! "The Game Maker" is laid back with keys before it starts to pick up 2 minutes in. Connors is at it again. Man he can play ! White is all over this one.

A must have for Fusion fans out there.

Review by Kazuhiro
5 stars After Chick studied originality and the sensibility thoroughly in the group in Miles, he formed RTF also that was his lifework because of the further promotion of it of my world. The album of RTF announced in 1972 united into one to the music character exactly by the directionality of each musician and sent love and happiness to us. It is guessed that "Return To Forever" and upcoming album "Light As A Feather" announced in 1972 are music that the taste of Brazil , for example, Airto Moreira is splendidly suitable for the creation of Chick exactly.

However, Chick takes out the idea that boldly changes the music character of the RTF. The musician who was related to Miles before that including Chick was challenging music to which electronic musical instruments were taken to strengthen the music character further in the age. This time made "Bitches Brew" of Miles announced in 1970 a starting point and changed the concept of Jazz/Fusion surely. Of course, there are a lot of opinions that Miles killed Jazz by this album, too. Chick however challenges even goods of ..avant-garde.. [tsuku] including the work of ECM already.

People's opinions often have the opinion that "Bitches Brew" is made a starting point and the width of Jazz/Fusion extended. And, the fan of Jazz makes the opinion that Jazz might have died. However, the result worked on music that Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Lifetime succeeded the spirit and cannot be denied.

Miles certainly asked not only the listener but also the musician the definition of Jazz/Fusion by "Bitches Brew". However, Miles might be able nothing but to advance in my world. And, Chick was strongly influenced by the music of the counterplan at that time. It is guessed that it was decided to reflect the sensibility of the music that derived from the counterplan at that time in my world. Chick did RTF and the decision to take the explosion of the explosion and feelings of a harder, heavier music and space to music was done. Chick is answered in the interview. He says that it listens to the music of Mahavishnu Orchestra and it was influenced very much by him. It was said that my music wanted also to express the exploding emotion in music. He said. I am not a translation at all to be digested the music of "Biches Brew". I say that I want to have feelings like the music of John Mclaughlin.

He arranged the musician who was able to achieve it in the actual music to strengthen RTF further. Bass player's Stanley Clarke was already on the register in RTF. And, guitar player's Bill Connors is received with drum player's Lenny White. Bill informed the world of his name by this album. However, he secedes this album and the band has seceded at the end. And, he has left the work in ECM back. It might have been thought that neither the idea nor the technology of Bill were suitable for RTF though Chick was going to make RTF a perfect band at this time. However, Bill works on the tune by the original sensibility that other guitar players do not have. I think that it is a performance never bad.

Each musician's technology can be satisfied by the dash at the cool tune "Space Circus" end by the rhythm of 8/6 by there are "Theme To the Mothership" impressive the melody to feel the famous "Captain Senor Mouse" space performed with Duo of "After The Cosmic Rain" Chick and Gary Burton that succeeds "Hymn Of The Sevevth Galaxy" where it starts, it explodes at once, and it dashes and the power and pulls the album and a groove a little. 「The Game Maker」

Chick has succeeded in the reflection of the exploding emotion in music really with this album. Music is created by the angle and the sensibility besides Mahavishnu Orchestra and the tension is given from first to last. It exceeds the frame of Jazz/Fusion and takes us to the world of Chick.

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars Return to Forever's 1st Jazz Rock Hymn

By 1973 Return to Forever finally hired a guitarist and got rid of the saxophone (and vocalist), so this is what Chick calls Return to Forever's first "electric" album. After two pleasant latin jazz albums, Chick & Co decided to experiment with the surgence of this new thing called "fusion" that bands like Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra were already doing (and what British jazzers, Nucleus and Soft Machine, were doing even a bit earlier).

The band tried their best to do their own kind of jazz rock, with all the potential that the line-up had to offer. The result was brilliant in terms of musicianship, the four members were technically capable of making intense jazz rock, however that's also a flaw, sometimes the band (as they would later do in Romantic Warrior) focuses too much in their instruments rather in the composition. Also have in mind, that it's not Al Di Meola who is on guitar, it's Bill Connors, a highly capable jazz guitarist, but unfortunately the production of the album didn't help him much, leaving a bit to desire from him. My last complaint would be that Chick Corea is missing his set of synths on his keyboard deck, making much of the record sound pretty samey at first listens, due to the monotonic sound of organ and electric piano solely.

It's a pitty though, I've seen live shows from the tour of this album (through YouTube) and the music sounds better because Chick had already added the synths to the band's music. That shows me that I actually see no major flaws in the compositions, if not in the sound of the overall record, its production is not really the best.

4 stars: it is definitely a big step over Light at as Feather, and while sounding different to the Meola records, it is up there with those in terms of playing. Highly recommended jazz rock album that its only flaw is actually the lack of synths and the muddy production, and probably sometimes the focus on the technical playing. The upcoming 2011 tour of the band, which will have the entire Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy as the set-list, is something that everybody shouldn't miss. Yes, I finally decided to rate this with 4 stars since it's actually excellent, despite the already stated flaws

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am fan of Chick Corea,Stanley Clarke and RTF for years. And I think that this album ( first RTF -II album) isn't masterpiece, as is often stated. Yes, this album is change in direction from RTF -I ( perfect Latin Jazz Fusion unit with Flora Purim on vocals and Airto Moreira on percussion). Yes, there new line up is presented ( almost classic one, just Bill Connors plays guitar, later Al Di Meola will change him for good). Yes ,sound is radically different from two first albums.

There we have one of the most perfect jazz-rock TECHNIQUE DEMONSTRATION in all style history. Rhythm section ( Clarke and White, one of the best rhythm section in fusion ever) are excellent, with fast ,heavy and very complex playing. Corea plays fast as well, often very complex, and missing his style and attraction doing this. Connor on guitar is weakest point - crafted guitarist, he plays very fast,cold and absolutely emotionless solos, filing all the space.

Even old Corea's song "Captain Senor Mouse" sounds there as robotised version, played by music machine. I believe, that in time of release that sound was almost revolutional, but now it sounds as abolute playing technique victory against music. You will hardly remember a simple tune from this album, just dready mix of fast,heavy and cold instrumentation.

For sure, this album has it's value - one of the most technically complex and excelent jazz fusion albums ever. But if you're searching for music - try it in other place. RTF debut album, or some later works are much more interesting and pleasant.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Return To Forever is one of the three prominent Jazz Rock/Fusion bands that were spawned from musicians that collaborated with Miles Davis. Even though it took this band longer than both Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra to perfect their formula, Return To Forever kick-started their true Fusion career with the release of Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy.

While the first two albums were heavily influenced by Latin sound most of those ideas have now been replaced by top-notch Jazz-Rock material. Unfortunately this was also the last album to feature Bill Connors' subtle but highly creative guitar work. I seem to be in a minority when I say that Al Di Meola is a highly overrated musician and , for once, it is nice to see the band give an equal opportunity to all of its members instead of filling the record with guitar dominated sounds.

The band gives a great performance here even though some of the material could have been polished even more. For instance, the lengthy jam on Theme To The Mothership doesn't offer me much excitement and instead drags on for much longer than it should have. On the opposite side of things we have excellent material like the opening title track that instead should have been expanded to a a 5-7 minute mark since it is easily the catchiest piece of music offered here. The Latin music influences may not have been removed completely and we do get a few sections here and there like on the quirky Captain Seņor Mouse. Still those influences never overshadow the Fusion-dominated material, like it did on the first two albums, and instead manage to complement the music by creating just the right individuality for Return To Forever.

It took me quite a few spins to appreciate Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy which might have a lot to do with my inability to fully gasp the greatness of Jazz music. But now that the material has finally settled in it reveled quite a few new shades of greatness. Still, if you are like me and don't like Jazz music all that much then I would rather recommend you listening to one of the band's more prominent titles like Romantic Warrior.

***** star songs: Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy (3:31) Game Maker (6:46)

**** star songs: After The Cosmic Rain (8:25) Captain Seņor Mouse (9:01) Space Circus, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 (5:42)

*** star songs: Theme To The Mothership (8:49)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From all the big fusion bands, Return To Forever are most likely to please prog rock audiences. And for obvious reasons, the first being that they are more melodious and proggy, the second that they rock! Especially so on their third album, which added the John McLaughlin influenced guitar player Bill Connors to the line-up. Not the popular Al DiMeola yet but sure an intense and passionate player.

The main difference with MO is the integration with Latin influences, most obvious on a track like Captain Senor Mouse. I don't find these features entirely successful. I guess I don't want Caribbean coconuts with my prog and I prefer my Latin salsa pure, without rock.

Another criticism goes to the overtly technical focus of the music. Each of the musicians here is a virtuoso player and they like to show it off as much and as frequently as the can. Even more so then the Mahavishnu Orchestra, who tend to make more room for atmosphere. Despite those remarks, the quality of the pieces is really great and inspired, so the shredding never becomes annoying and pleases me very much if I'm in the mood for it.

This is a really recommended jazz-rock album for the rock and guitar-shredding fan. 3.5 stars

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Return To Forever found their sound on this album. Sure, I know Al DiMeola was not in the group yet, but Bill Connors is no slouch on the guitar. And the music here has turned from the light fusion of the first two albums into high powered electric fusion.

Right from the start, the album shows itself to be riff heavy complex jazz fusion, powered by Stanley Clarke's fuzzed electric bass. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that at this point Chick Corea was relying all to much on the fender Rhodes for his keyboard sound. But that seemed to be the fallback keyboard for most jazz oriented fusion in those days.

This was really then breakthough album of one of fusion's foremost powerhouses.

4.5 stars. Rounded up.

Review by friso
2 stars Return to Forever - Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973)

I'm going to be a bit of a party-pooper here, but I just can't write much positive about this acclaimed masterpiece of fusion-core. I've tried to listen to this once and a while, but every-time I had put the record on it ended in disappointment (or others asking if I can put it of).

Return to Forever is a super-group with leading figure Chick Corea on keys, Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on the kit and Bill Conners on guitars. All are highly technical fusion musicians.

Now, the music itself is actually quite horrible (to my ears). Being professional is about playing tight and knowing which sounds are appropriate at any given moment. RtF sounds extremely busy, misguided, on speed and amateurish at the same time. That 'tight playing', something every-one seems to refer to, is nowhere to be found. There are many good melodic passages but there's always an element to ruin it; an ugly played or over-distorted guitar, bad mixing, chaotic speed, unlikable atmosphere/sound or lack of direction. Now, I know this record was recorded in 1973, but still it's sound is unacceptable for my (relatively) forgiving ears.

Perhaps this record was the first of it kind, heavy rock based jazz-rock on high speed. This itself is an achievement. Furthermore there are good passages on this album, but then again; every track has moments that totally ruins it. Annoying moments.

Conclusion. I think it's important to point out this is a highly technical fusion album that many like because of it's technical, heavy and fast approach on the genre. If you however like sensitive, meaningful progressive music it might be better to look elsewhere. Later on Return to Forever would record the very strong 'Romantic Warrior', an album I would highly recommend to fans of technical progressive music. For this Hymne of the Seventh Galaxy (a title that is as meaningful as the music) I can only give two stars. I have a suspicion a lot of reviewers are influenced by the authority this album is made to be.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is either the second or third RTF album, depending on your view. The first was a Chick Corea solo album called Return To Forever, but the second was a group release with pretty much the same line-up. Those two albums had more in common with early Weather Report, whereas this one has more in common with early Mahavishnu Orchestra. There are strong hard rock and funk influences here not heard on the previous two. Bill Connors is the guitarist here and I prefer his style to Al DiMeola who joins for the next album. No vocals this time and Stanley Clarke has yet to perfect his funky bass style. The music here is generally equally jazzy and rockin' with Corea making great use of ring modulator and other effects on his Fender Rhodes electric piano. The drumming of Lenny White is something to behold.

The title track starts off with spacey noises, then goes into funky jazz-rock. Great guitar playing and drumming in the middle. One of the better songs on Hymn but I wish it was longer. "After The Cosmic Rain" was written by Clarke and is probably the proggiest number on the album. It's my personal favourite song on here. I love Corea's modified Rhodes and organ in this song. The interplay between Connors and Corea is great here. Clarke does an an excellent, long fuzz-bass solo which is the highlight of the whole album for me. Love how the tempo picks up during his solo. A tempo increase happens again when Corea does his Rhodes solo.

"Captain Senor Mouse" has a Latin American influence. At times Connors and Corea's unison playing reminds me of the Allman Bros. A very energenic and upbeat song until it mellows out a bit after 3 minutes. Connors does a really great solo over halfway. "Theme To The Mothership" fades in with a phased drum roll and wastes no time getting down to business; business being slightly funky/slightly symphonic jazz-rock. In the middle Corea does some terrific ring modulator altered Rhodes soloing as Clarke comes up with some interesting sounds on his bass. Ends very laid-back and funky before some start/stop playing to finish it.

"Space Circus, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2" begins with some lovely Rhodes, harpsichord and organ playing for the first minute and a half. Then some funky Rhodes takes the band into jazz- funk territory. Later on the band grooves on a hard rock riff, followed by some excellent Rhodes playing. The two sections repeat again. Some almost metal style soloing from Connors near the end before it finishes with the excellent Rhodes part again. "Game Maker" has some acoustic guitar. Almost spacey and avant for awhile. Gets almost Canterbury sounding afterwards. Connors and Corea trade solos back and forth.

This is probably my favourite RTF album because of it's consistency. I also enjoy the early 70s/pre-synth sound here. I never thought Corea was that great with synths. This is definitely recommended to proggers who don't mind instrumental music. On the next album synths and DiMeola appear, but I personally believe RTF never got better than on Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy. 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Husband and wife team Flora Purim and Airto Moreira left Return to Forever after completing the wonderful Light as a Feather, and on Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy Chick Corea adjust the band's sound accordingly, more or less removing the Latin influences brought to the table by those two performers and instead going for a more straight-ahead heavy fusion album.

The Mahavishnu Orchestra appears to be the primary influence, which you could see as an astute move on Corea's part - after all, this was at a time when the sessions for the original Orchestra's third studio album had collapsed in disarray and rumour was rife on the jazz scene that all was not well in the Mahavishnu ranks, and indeed by the end of the year the original lineup would be no more. What better time to throw your hat into the ring as far as fast-paced hard fusion goes?

Whilst Bill Connors doesn't quite manage to attain the furious speeds on his guitar playing that John McLaughlin does on The Inner Mounting Flame, he certainly gives it his best shot, and his interplay with Chick's electric piano is a highlight of the album's sound. As noted by other reviewers, the influence of other fusion traditions such as the more jazzy end of the Canterbury spectrum creeps in here or there, but otherwise this is a fusion album firmly rooted in the tradition of Mahavishnu, Weather Report, and Miles Davis, with a sound that at points risks becoming generic thanks to its close mimicry of the Mahavishnu sound.

The album is saved by the fact that this new lineup of the group is really good at what they do. Lenny White on drums takes a more forceful approach suited to the new style, whilst Bill Connors' furious guitar work is rightfully given plenty of spotlight, since it is the addition of electric guitar which is the major departure from the sound of the early albums. Between them, Connors and White strap a rocket to Return To Forever and help them blast off for the Seventh Galaxy, at points beating Mahavishnu at their own game.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

"Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy" is one of the most important albums for Chick Corea and Return To Forever's career.

Chick Corea is one of the most well known figures in Jazz Fusion, as well as one Jazz greatest keyboardists. After the well acclaimed debut album "Return To Forever", which gave the name to the band, and the almost as seminal "Light As a Feather", "Hymn To the Seventh Galaxy" comes to some as a somewhat disappointing release. It isn't the usual third album that suddenly becomes the magnum opus of the band, but it definitely gives some new elements to Return To Forever's music that will persist during their whole career ahead of them.

On "Hymn to The Seventh Galaxy", Return to Forever go towards a direction more faithful and coherent to the term Jazz Fusion, abandoning all vocal tracks. However, like many bands of that day, they throw in their music, as they did before, various influences, from Funk, to Rock, to Latin music, to Psychedelic and Space Rock. The rhythms are always strong and constantly busy, the guitars and bass somewhat abrasive and fuzzy, and Corea's swelling electric piano gives to the music an undeniable touch of uniqueness, dragging all the other instruments to follow him. The best melodies as a matter of fact are created out of the Corea's fingers, more than anybody else's.

"Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy"'s heavy tone is always a delight to listen to, the band's various pathways they take in the course of a song is always fascinating. This album has some very high points, some however can't help to fall behind the shadow of the first few, marvelous tracks. For being more precise, the first side of the LP is close to being masterful, while the second side is more disappointing and not exactly up to the task of maintaining such high levels.

After the self title intro to the album, the two masterpieces of the LP come in, Stanley Clarke's song "After The Cosmic Rain" and the even more intriguing "Captain Senor Mouse", possibly the best song of the album. Both of these songs are long but absolutely worth the listen. The second side, as mentioned, does not contain such high quality tracks, however, the overall resultant still maintains a solid amount of credibility, especially thanks to tracks like the two parts of "Space Circus" and even the final track "The Game Maker", both of them overall pretty interesting and accessible.

"Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy" maybe will not go down in history as a quintessential Fusion album, but it's one of those LPs that you can't miss, especially if you're a Jazz fan. On this album there is so much to learn from, and people seem to forget how important this album really is for Return To Forever and Chick Corea's career that will follow.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After ''Light as a feather'' Joe Farrell, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim all left Return To Forever (they even helped each other in future albums) and Corea and Clarke recruited session drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist Mingo Lewis and guitarist Bill Connors for further rehearsals.While the third work of the band was in the recording process, Gadd quit, as he refused to tour with Return To Forever under the fear of loosing his job as a session drummer and he was followed by Lewis.Drummer Lenny White was then recruited as their replacement and the band headed for the Record Plant Studios in New York.''Hymn of the seventh galaxy'' was re-recorded with White behind the drum kit and released in August 1973 on Polydor.

While Moreira and Purim seem to have adapted the Latin-tinged, ethereal Fusion style of Return To Forever and displayed it in their upcoming albums, the band itself started breaking new grounds, leaving muhg of their Latin spices in the history of the previous line-up and presenting here one of the smokiest and most dense albums the Fusion world ever saw.Corea handles the acoustic/electric piano, organ and harsichord here and Connors' work was to provide the band with some fiery and sharp jazzy soloing.New drummer Lenny White next to the flawless Stanley Clarke offered one of the most technical rhythm sections in Jazz-Fusion.The result is one of the most dense and complex Jazz Rock/Fusion albums of the 70's, every note in here is right to the point and ''Hymn of the seventh galaxy'' offers six pieces of intense Electric Fusion with endless tempo changes, an unbelievable number of breaks and some angular interplays between piano, guitar and keyboards.Fast paces, neurotic executions, solos changing in a blink of an eye, but what will blow your mind away is that every second in here seems correctly placed/played.Latin influences and colors are limited but not absent for a flashback in Return To Forever's previous albums, but when you have to face Corea drifting between electric piano, harsichord and organ, you know what to expect: Emphatic, jazzy musicianship with top performances and incredible technique.One of those albums, where melodies are absent, but you shouldn't care a single minute, because the music is absolutely fascinating, split in six Fusion monster classics.

No words to describe my feelings after listening to this album.This should be exhibited as a seminar for all Fusion freaks and players.Monstrous, instrumental pieces with superb musicianship and tight interactions.Up there, in the top 10 Fusion albums of the 70's...4.5 stars upgraded.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars What a drastic change in sound for Return to Forever. Light as a Feather found the group as a Brazilian type of jazz band, with Flora Purim and Airto Moreira. The Bossa Nova influence on that album is hard to escape, you expect Flora Purim to break into "The Girl From Impanema" at any time. The album is stuffed full of great electric piano solos from Chick Corea himself an fantastic stand up bass playing from Stanley Clarke. Wonderful album, but had RTF stopped there, there would be little reason for RTF to be included here. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy featured an overhaul in the lineup. Corea and Clarke still present, with newcomers Lenny White and Bill Connors. There was a transitional lineup that started recording this album but then were partially redone with the stabilized lineup. Gone are the Brazilian/Bossa Nova influences and instead they became the established fusion band that they're most remembered for. Chick Corea admitted being inspired by John McLaughlin around this time, so it should come as no surprise that Hymn of the Seven Galaxy is very much in Mahavishnu territory. Bill Connors doing that similar lightening fast guitar playing, Lenny White playing with that same ferocity of Billy Cobham, and of course Stanley Clarke with his similarly fast bass playing. "Captain Senor Mouse" has a bit of that Latin influences, but even here it's still fusion overdrive. "Space Circus" has a funky feel to it, but for the most part this album is full of break-neck fast playing which will either blow you away or you feel it's just technical showoffmanship. I'm with the former, though. Because of the obvious Mahavishnu comparison, it's that reason Bill Connors quickly left, he felt it was a bit too close to Mahavishnu territory for his liking, or at least he felt the band shouldn't have tried riding the coattails of another band, so he was quickly replaced by Al DiMeola, their most recognized guitarist. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy makes no bones about who they are: no longer a Brazilian jazz band, but a full-on fusion band, and this is an album I highly recommend for fans of the genre.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For Chick Corea's third album using the Return to Forever moniker the bandleader must have felt the need to make some major changes. (It seems obvious that he felt the need to response.compete with the first incarnation of his Bitches Brew band mate John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra.) Gone are the Brazilian husband-wife team of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim--and, thus, the Santana-like Latin flavor and energy--and gone are the horns; what we have here is now a power fusion band--the most rock 'n' roll like form of all: bass, drums, guitar, and keyboards.

A1 "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy" (3:25) here the band opens with a dynamic display of the new member more rock 'n' roll-oriented skills and volume. The way Bill and Stanley play off one another is very cool. (8.75/10)

A2 "After The Cosmic Rain" (8:33) using a form that enlists two or three different speeds, we get a nice view of the skills of Chick, Lenny, and Bill Connors with Stanley showing off a lead-guitarist kind of mentality with his fuzz-bass. Stanley's dextrous use of full chords on his electric bass is also quite unusual and ground-breaking. Chick on the electric piano is more demonstrative than melodic in his showmanship and I find Lenny's drums to be mixed a little too loud (as well as come across as a little too rock 'n' roll). Nice but not really anything very engaging or memorable-- except for Stanley's bass solo. (17.5/20)

A3 "Captain Seņor Mouse" (8:56) the hard driving rhythm track of this one could've easily come from a rock band like The Allman Brothers Band or Think Lizzy. This is the first song on which I am certain that the band used multiple tracks to accomplish the full soundscape here as the percussion, multiple keyboards, and even guitars have too much reinforcement to be done in one take. I like the occasional shifts into the Latin motifs while Chick's electric piano patterns and solos finally sound more like the signature style that he would become known for: with lots more slurs as if he were bending notes (which he later masters on his Minimoog). The drum and bass play beneath Chick is nothing short of miraculous: tight and yet jaw-dropping in speed and dexterity. No wonder this song became a standard in Chick's concert repertoire. I even like the drop back into harpsichord at the end of his extended solo (and, of course, his signature bounce accents beneath his bandmates' solos). Bill Connors' first truly extended solo in seventh and eight minutes is truly remarkable, marred only by his over-obsession with John McLaughlin-like long-held note bending. When he does his runs and quick changes in direction it's impressive. (19/20)

B1 "Theme To The Mothership" (8:22) It is obvious to me that the band is gelling and heading toward the sounds and styles that we will come to know and recognize as distinctly their own the further we get into this album--this song being yet another step in this process from "Captain Seņor Mouse." The one variable is Bill Connors' style (which obviously affected the style of incoming star Al Di Meola in that he had to learn these songs in Bill's style for auditions and live replications). At the same time, it is often remarkable how similar the styles of the two guitarists are. The more rock-steady (almost sedate) bass play (when he's not soloing) of Stanley Clarke is surprising over the first five minutes, but then, as Chick starts his multi-instrument solo in the fifth minute you can finally hear the bass begin to introduce some of those lightning flashes of flurries and riffs between or in response to some of Chick's pauses between phrases--just like the blues and R&B-trained guitarists do between their own vocal phrases. The band still hasn't mastered the art of unforgettable solo blasts with unforgettable melody lines, but they are very much on their way. (18/20)

B2a "Space Circus (Part I)" (1:28) gentle, hypnotic Fender Rhodes arpeggi from Chick's left hand over which his right hand spits out melodic riffs. Quite lovely. An obvious influence on Ronnie Laws. (4.75/5)

B2b "Space Circus (Part II)" (4:08) a pause after Chick finishes the intro, then Stanley and Chick jump forward with Lenny and Bill quick to join in. I love the sound Bill is using on this one. Stanley is back in lead-predatory mode here, but Bill may be up to his challenge. Lenny elbows his way into the spotlight in the fourth minute and then, finally, Bill lets loose. It's good--more Larry Coryell-like than Mahavishnu Di Meola in that there is a "nasty filth" to his sound that Al or John rarely aspire to. (9.25/10)

B3 "The Game Maker" (6:49) contemplative electric piano play to open, some gentle metallic percussion, too (cymbal and triangle hits). At 1:50, when the full band kicks in, Bill's twangy guitar is first to jump to the lead with Lenny and a dreamy Stanley in solid support. Even Chick, with his rotating two chords of fast arpeggi is in full support. In the fourth minute Chick breaks in with a solo that gets Stanley's adrenaline pumping and to which Bill sees a need to compete and fire back. This duel between Chick and Bill goes on for some time as Lenny and Stanley--especially Stanley-- impress from beneath. A great song that fully illustrates the cohesive whole-band skill and comradery that this band will master. The Mahavishnu Orchestra may have broken the J-R Fuse genre wide open, but it is RTF that perfected it! (14.25/15)

Total Time: 42:16

This album is quite a favorite with a lot of critics and fans, but I think the band is still undergoing growth and self- discovery and have not yet fully-defined their everlasting sound.

A/five stars; a minor masterpiece of genre-advancing Jazz-Rock Fusion. Again, that which Mahavishnu started, RTF perfected.

Latest members reviews

4 stars #47th Review Once i heard the tragic and unexpected passing of Chick Corea i knew that i had to review this album, it features the first Jazz Fusion i ever heard and still love to this day. One sad thing is that i kept pushing away this review and thus pushing listening to Return to Forever furth ... (read more)

Report this review (#2537053) | Posted by FalconBleck | Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For the third release of this seminal band, Chick Corea abandons the earlier Brazilian influences and puts together a new outfit for unapologetic fusion. Indeed, maestro Corea had found his sound with this one and lifted the band to legendary status, one that was to be reinforced with ensuing ... (read more)

Report this review (#808877) | Posted by Progosopher | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy ? 1973 (3.7/5) 12 ? Best Song: The Game Maker They fused together brilliantly with pop, and now with the onset of Al Di Meola as their first notable guitarist, we get to see the band fluidly melding with rock. Oh, I won't say that a guitarist is necessary to any giv ... (read more)

Report this review (#440496) | Posted by Alitare | Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the quintessential 70's Jazz fusion album, The technical mastery is astounding, But that's nothing new for RTF, the thing about this masterpiece I admire, is the Sound, Raw and not to slick, A real edginess, The RTF albums to come seem slightly over produced, yet still quite enjoyable, The ... (read more)

Report this review (#410413) | Posted by darkprinceofjazz | Wednesday, March 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The masters of fusion goes to the seventh galaxy.... And so do I. I gladly admit that Return To Forever (RTF) has been a solid eye opener to me and really got me interested in both fusion and jazz. Their Romantic Warrior album is a perfect fusion of symphonic prog and jazz. This album, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#376991) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, January 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is without a doubt the finest album that Return to Forever ever released. That being said, I still do not give it 5 stars because it is missing that X factor for me. While I love the band and love the complexity of everything that they do on this album, it simply does not thrill me as muc ... (read more)

Report this review (#205595) | Posted by evantate09 | Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This one roars from beginning to end. This Great Lp spent quite a bit of time spinning on my old RCA Victor back in the seventies. With albums like this I was safe from both punk and disco within my little fusion bubble. It's no surprise that Seventh Galaxy was one of my favorites during the b ... (read more)

Report this review (#124913) | Posted by vingaton | Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow wow wow! Chick Corea and his band have done it again, what a masterpiece this is. A more true Jazz-rocker than the "Romantic Warrior" album, but I as a progger like this one even better. Especially the guitar is very good. Recommended to anyone who likes Jazz/Fusion. 5 stars no doubt. ... (read more)

Report this review (#103008) | Posted by Autoband | Wednesday, December 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Chick Corea adds electric guitar and cranks the speed and volume to 11. This album changed my life. This is enough to make any accomplished musician throw in the towel. I read a Bill Connors interview of how much he practiced his ass off for this, and I believe it. In 1973 Bill Connors was a ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#71686) | Posted by | Saturday, March 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "The second incarnation of Chick Corea's influential fusion group released only a single record, the magnificent Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Featuring a more rock-oriented approach than the Flora Purim-Joe Farrell band that was responsible for both Return to Forever and Light as a Feather, Cor ... (read more)

Report this review (#29480) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 6, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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