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Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Return To Forever Light as a Feather album cover
3.43 | 204 ratings | 18 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. You're Everything (5:11)
2. Light as a Feather (10:57)
3. Captain Marvel (4:53)
4. 500 Miles High (9:07)
5. Children's Song (2:47)
6. Spain (9:51)

Total Time 42:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / electric piano, producer
- Joe Farrell / flute, tenor saxophone
- Stanley Clarke / double bass
- Airto Moreira / drums, percussion
- Flora Purim / vocals, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Hamish Grimes

LP Polydor ‎- 2310 247 (1973, Germany)

CD Polydor ‎- 827-148-2 (1991, US)

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RETURN TO FOREVER Light as a Feather ratings distribution

(204 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RETURN TO FOREVER Light as a Feather reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Zitro
2 stars 2.4 Stars

I can't believe Im giving only 2 stars to an absolute classic of Latin Jazz. The musicianship is great, the rhodes electric keyboard floors you with its speed, but there aren't that many hooks and diversity, making this album a bit dull if you are focused in it. Also, the melodies can sometimes be weak as well as the female vocalist.

You're Everything starts as a bad song with good rhode keyboards in the background. The singing here is terrible. Then, the music accelerates and gets a bit better, but the singer still sings awkwardly.

The title track begins mellow with slightly better singing and pretty good instrumentation. However, The part where the keyboard goes "wha wha" has absolutely terrible vocals. The rest of the song is mostly a pretty good jam with virtuosic instrumentation and a reprise of the beginning with the bad vocals.

Captain Marvel is a latin jazz jam and doesn't bring anything new to the album as it sounds like the title track.

500 Miles High is another virtuosic jam with rhode keyboards. The musicianship here is excellent, but the songwriting is nonexistent as it contains bad vocals and melodies.

Children's song has a simple theme repeated to death without any development.

The best song of the album is a cover song, which shows you how weak the songwriting is here. Spain is an excellent cover of "Sketches of Spain" from Miles Davis. It begins slowly like the Miles version but with the rhodes keyboard. Suddently, the song turns into a catchy latin jazz tune. It is quite repetitive but the music is great.

Overall, I recommend this album only to jazz fusion, free jazz, and rhode electric keyboard fans. The songwriting is very weak in this album, the melodies non-existent, and the vocals painful to listen to. The only saving greace is the musicianship and the great Chick Corea and his keyboard.

Highlights: Light as a Feather, Spain

Let Downs: You're Everything, 500 Miles High, Children's song.

My Grade: D+

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My first knowledge about the band started when I heard "The Endless Night" of "Music Magic" album. Since then I traced back all albums by Return To Forever. "Light AS A Feather" was for me a good album even though I considered that Chick Core's musicianship was excellent and I did enjoy it very much. Now, after more than 20 years of this album I still got my pulse running faster when I played this CD. Of course "Spain" is the mast captivating composition which I really love. I even love the version of Spian sung by Al Jarreau. But it's not just this song that makes up this as good album. The "500 Miles High" is a well composed music that flows the music naturally in accessible melody line.

On musicians, no one would argue the virtuosity of Flora Purim's crispy voice that enriches the music of Return To Forever. Joe Farell has satisfied me to his inventive work on Chick Corea's solo album of "The Mad Hatter" through the most powerful contemporary jazz rock composition of "Dear Alice". This song is killing! Here at "Light as A Feather" Joe' work is excellent. Stanley Clarke is also a great bass guitar player. All ini all, this is a group with talented musicians.

Eventhough this is not the band's best album, I still thing that this album has a good blanaced of jazz, rock and contemporary music composition. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Chus
4 stars "Return To Latin Jazz"

Brazilian jazz is more like it. Chick Corea & co. decided this time to leave aside the experimental facette and focus more on "conservative" (in the mildest sense of the word) latin jazz music. The album starts on fast "samba" beats with "You're Everything" ; Flora Purim fits more perfectly on a lower pitch, accentuating the "warmth" factor of her timbre; Joe Farrell's flute playing succeds to bring that "carioca" feel to the music. The title track slows the rhythm down a bit; "Light As A Feather" starts as a mellow bossa nova with displays from Chick Corea; the rhythm goes in crescendo and, later on, the spotlight focuses on Joe Farrell's sax scales exposition. "Captain Marvel" has the same samba beat, only this time Joe turns to flute again; the melody is as marvelous as the title suggests. The mood turns a bit blue for a while at the beginning of "500 miles high"; the Flora Purim enters again singing lyrics and the format acquired is of a more traditional jazz with a bit of latin flavour provided by Chick Corea's keyboard chords, until the latin percussions come in again and Joe Farrell grabs his alto sax; luckily Stanley Clarke breaks the repetitive sax (flute)/keyboard sequence and gets his first spotlit moment on the record, which is a bit short though. "Children's Song" is a sort of experimental lullaby, though not really outstanding in the record. "Spain" is perhaps the most memorable piece of the entire album, and would result in one of Chick's most revered masterpieces; it actually consists on a variation on one of the movements of Joaquin Rodrigo's "Aranjuez" suite; which later turns into another samba; the melody is amazing, specially enhanced with Flora's beautiful voice; the sequence is the same: Joe Farrell's flute scales, followed by Corea's keyboard and, finally, Stanley Clarke on acoustic bass ends the soloing sequence and we're in for the coda. Certainly that song merits it's fame, and would become a staple for many Chick Corea's concerts.

This album definitely won't appeal much to progressive ROCK fans, since it's condemned by it's predictability (an attribute which it's predecesor doesn't share); it's always in the same mood, adding to the lack of "rock" elements. But if you feel like trying, don't be afraid to. This is amazing music charged with musicianship and professionalism, and is indeed a pure Latin Jazz record.

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars What we've got here is failure to...progress.

After a solid and innovative debut, Return to Forever take a step backward. I suppose this could still be considered progressive jazz, but in many places it sound much more like some jazzy lounge music. Suffice it to say, I'm glad that they (meaning Corea primarily) decided to change gears in later albums, because this album was moving away from allowing them full display of their talents.

You're Everything, Captain Marvel, Children's Song. The opener is probably the worst song on the album--relatively simple lounge music and formulaic, Purim on vocals just doesn't have the ability to carry the song by herself. Captain Marvel is still formulaic, but it's more uptempo, and if you listen carefully, there's some very nice interplay between the bass and keys to be heard, as well as energetic drumming. Children's Song is a plodding instrumental with some nice bass, but that's about it.

Light as a Feather, 500 Miles High, Spain. These are the extended pieces, and they all follow a similar strategy: the forgettable vocals of Purim to begin and end the songs, with some nice extended grooving in between. The title track and 500 Miles High are virtually indistinguishable to my ears: subpar melodies, and jams with dynamics changes and plenty of flute, bass and sax solos strewn about. Spain is the best of the bunch, mostly because the main melody is actually engaging, but also because the middle jam isn't overextended either.

This is certainly not bad music, but it just fails to hold my attention in many places. These guys have talent, but they are holding back a bit (especially Corea), probably because the songs are more vocal oriented. Fortunately, that would change in later albums, with some unforgettably explosive results!

Review by Fight Club
3 stars A classic of latin jazz, but a classic of music?

Light As A Feather is the second studio album recorded by the fusion band Return to Forever, led by the keyboardist Chick Corea. This album is considered a classic in the world of jazz, but I am not so sure it is a masterpiece.

There is no doubt that Chick Corea delivers one of the most impressive performances on a rhoads piano on this album, and all of the members are on the top of their game. Stanley Clarke utilizes an acoustic bass throughout the whole album, and anyone who's familiar with his work should know what it makes for. The album is pretty much all improvisation and always gets me in a mood to pick up my bass and start jamming along. I think that is probably the pivotal aspect in jazz. The ability assimilate the listener into the movement and rhythms. This album surely does that. I can sit down, pop this CD in, and feel at one with the music as if I am the one playing the instruments in a small, dimmed room. It's one of those albums that just has the perfect chill mood.

So, this album may greatly appeal to classic jazz and fusion fans, however prog and rock fans might find a few faults with it. One of my greatest bothers are the vocals. I don't know what Corea was thinking, incorporating that horrible female vocalist onto this album, but it was surely a mistake. As soon as "You're Everything" starts up I always cringe at the sound of her voice. It's very raspy and monotonous and doesn't contribute anything to the musical value of the album. It often overpowers the performances by the rest of the band, which are the true power of the CD.

This album also lacks variety. It stays in virtually the same mood throughout the whole duration and doesn't progress into much else. What we get is good, relaxing, rhoads and flute focused jazz and nothing else. So, those looking for an album that ventures off into uncharted territories with a lot of variation, this will be a disappointment. On the other hand if you are a fan of the rhoads piano you will worship this album.

So for a fan of mellow jazz and fusion this is an excellent addition to your collection, but for me this is just a good album and not much else.

My rating: 7/10

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

With an unchanged line-up, RTF's second album light As A Feather, released in late 72, saw a label change from ECM to Polydor, but the musical propos stayed pretty well the same as it was on the self-titled debut. So the album is still hovering with some straight jazz moments, but at times the music is red hot fusion, but also has some Brazilian bossa nova twists (Moreira) and some strong Spanish influences (Corea himself) as well and was recorded in the fall in London. Farrell's flute and sax providing much delightful moments, this is still very much a Corea album, since he signs every track but the lengthy title track, which might just be Clarke first composition.

Opening on the most standard jazz track of the album, the bossa nova You're Everything, where Purim and Corea dominate the propos, but overall, this might be the least interesting track on the album. The 11- mins Clarke-penned title track starts pretty much on the same mode, but veers very much instrumental and by the end of the track, you've had an amazing trip between flute and Fender Rhodes. The Following Captain Marvel is a 100 MPH Corea-dominated track where Purim pulls in some aerial scats.

The flipside opens on the lengthy 500 Miles High, a slow-starter with Purim and Farrell in the forefront, but once the track is in its middle section, one gets red hot Fender Rhodes-driven jazz-rock that will have burned your eardrums by the landing back on firm ground. Children's Song is a short is a quiet Rhodes and percussion interlude. Ending on the lengthy Spain, which holds some Aranjuez Concerto lines in it, anc will later lead Corea in further solo albums developing this them , Spanish Heart to name it.

While LaaF is often not considered as a classic RTF album along with the debut, both albums are still very much worthy of investigation, even though Purim's presence in the group does set them apart from the rest of the group's oeuvre.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars The first Return to Forever existed a world away from the incendiary Jazz-Prog Fusion of the "Romantic Warrior" line-up. As heard on the band's initial two albums, the earlier music had an unplugged elegance altogether lacking from their later, rockier efforts, appealing perhaps to more refined sensibilities: in other words, to codgers like myself. No way would my teenage Proghead alter ego have responded to such easygoing charm and sophistication.

The second and final album from the original quintet followed the same Latin-Jazz blueprint of its predecessor, built almost entirely around the mellow accents of Chick Corea's electric piano and Joe Farrell's pastel saxophones and flute (no guitar pyrotechnics here; in fact, there aren't any guitars at all). The album certainly lives up to its title, maybe too closely for some Fusion aficionados: the music is clearly more Jazz than Rock, with a casual, cocktail-lounge flavor to Flora Purim's voice, smoother than the driest martini ever mixed (or at least what a teetotaler like me imagines a martini would taste like).

But the music really takes flight during the instrumental sections, especially in the second half of the title track, at 11-minutes the longest cut on the album. At times there's an almost percussive attack to Corea's piano, gliding over the fluid depth of Stanley Clarke's bass (upright and acoustic but still aggressive: check out his furious solo turn on "500 Miles High") and Airto Moreira'a typically deft drumwork.

There's some exciting stuff here, to be sure. But the best parts sound too much like a retread of what worked (because it was fresh) the first time around, maybe explaining Corea's decision to dramatically re- tool the group in later incarnations. Consider this album not as an improvement over the group's debut (recorded only eight months earlier), but more as a paraphrase: a companion rather than a sequel.

Review by The Quiet One
2 stars Light as a Latin Jazz band

Light as a Feather is actually Return to Forever's debut album, it continues with the smooth/latin jazz that Chick Corea's album had introduced, however this is not any smooth jazz, this is with Chick Corea's magical electric piano, Latin vocalist Flora Purim, engaging saxophonist Joe Farrell, the tremendous bass from Stanley Clarke and the effective percussion from Airto Moreira, all making a sweet jazz record with some twists here and there, adding those Latin-roots everyone talks about.

The opener, 'You're Everything', already traps you with Corea's charming keyboards and Flora's delightful vocals, all soon to transform into a very engaging and elegant Latin style.

The title track follows the smooth mood and Latin-esque style the opener presented, however Chick Corea let's his virtuosity on the keys set-free this time and delivers some really fantastic stuff all within that pleasant rhythm section heard before on the previous song. Joe Farell also has the chance to shine with a enthralling saxophone solo, while Stanley later delivers a typical jazzy bass solo.

'Captain Marvel' moves the album into a faster pace full of rapid flute evoking a lot of energy to the listener as to maintain you awake, as well as some speed-up keyboard runs.

'500 Miles High' overall shares a lot with the title track due to the mellowness with the exception of the middle instrumental part which is more reminiscent of 'Captain Marvel's' rapid pace and energy delivery.

'Children's Song' returns to the tranquility of the opener, but even more so. It's three minutes of instrumental peacefulness, as a song is not that interesting, but it works well as a preparation for the last song, which is a classic.

'Spain', well it's a classic you should already know about, develops further the strong Latin roots from 'Captain Marvel' and in here Chick Corea truly adds some magnificent spins, even more so engaging than the rest of the songs from this album. Incredible Latin Jazz composition.

Finally as a conclusion I'll just say that it's a very pleasant smooth jazz album (not referring to the 'genre'). At first it may seem wonderful because it's Latin-flavour and the lovely tranquil mood, but as far as the compositions go you'll find them in the end pretty monotone and not much to distinguish from each other, even if they're all greatly played. Because of this it doesn't deserve more than 2 stars. Still enjoyable, and recommended for those who like some tranquil Jazz to go along with.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second RTF album ( formally first, because "Return To Forever" album was released as Chick Corea solo album, not RTF debut). The music is classic strongly jazz influenced Latin fusion of RTF of early period. Classic line up, where Corea colaborates with great bass player Stanley Clarke and top-level Latin jazz/fusion pair Flora Purim (voc.) and her husband Airto Moreira (perc.,dr.). No guitars are added, just some sax solos.

Basic album sound is Corea's light vibrating Rhodes keyboard, with rich Brasilian voice of Flora Purim and Latin percussion. All music is light, melodic, with strong Latin atmosphere.

As debut album, second one is strongly different from later RTF guitar oriented heavier works. There you feel light, sun, sea breeze in all compositions. "Spain" is absolutely golden classic for years, "Captain Marvel " as well.

For RTF earlier ( Latin-jazz) period I prefer debut album, but the second one is almost as good as the first one. Don't expect to find here compositions of Al Di Meola/Corea/Clarke/White line - up, music there is different. But if you like earlier Corea's jazzy albums, his Latin-fusion works and Flora Purim voice - it's a excellent example here.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars RTF's second album Light As A Feather is a very light jazz album that will probably sound completely unrecognizable from the guitar-oriented fusion they became popular for. This is an album of dreamy and smoky jazz-club music that sometimes borders on easy-listening.

The entire album is fairly traditional so don't expect faster-then-lightening virtuosity or challenging innovation, a couple of tracks like Light As A Feather are very pleasant and feature warm soothing female vocals, others are more upbeat and swinging. 500 Miles High is one that is a bit more lively, but the dominating easy going nature of the music doesn't really turn it into an engaging listen.

I believe some tracks have enough qualities to please regular jazz fans or prog fans that are in a pleasant summery mood, but generally I would rather recommend this to lovers of Latin world music then rock fans.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Another Return to Forever in which the husband and wife instrumentalist team of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim play a key role in the band's sound, this album shows concrete progress over the debut. The album closer Spain is a much-loved classic, but most of the other tracks on this deserve attention. My favourites are the furiously fast Captain Marvel - the rockiest track on the disc, in my view - and gentle opening composition You're Everything, which is possibly the jazziest. An appreciable and welcome improvement over the debut, Light as a Feather proved that Chick Corea's fusion project was no mere flash in the pan, and set the stage for the group becoming a full band concern rather than a Chick Corea backing group.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars For their second album, Return To Forever was still not yet a fusion band. Sure, Chick Corea plays an electric piano throughout, but there is not a hint of rock. The album is a set of Chick Corea latin flavored jazz pieces, with one Stanley Clarke composition (Light As A Feather) thrown in.

But for what it is, it is a fantastic album. Corea and Clarke, as usual are incredible on their respective instruments. Joe Farrell plays some excellent solos, mostly on flute, and Airto Moreira is fantastic on drums. And Flora Purim is just sweet on the vocals.

The album has three songs that have become jazz staples in the decades since it's release. Light As A Feather, 500 Miles High and Spain have all been covered many times, but possibly not much better than these great recordings.

I find this to be an album to play when having friends over for a late night party on the deck on a hot summer night. Try it.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After Return to Forever's debut Corea along with Airto and Clarke participated in the recordings of Stan Getz's ''Captain marvel'' album, featuring mostly compositions by Corea.The end of 72' found the band in London, UK, for the recordings of a second studio work.''Light as a feather'' was recorded between October 8 and October 15 at I.B.C. Sound Recording Studio.Return to Forever also changed label at the time, signing with Polydor, which released the album in November.

The title of the album reflects strongly to the overall approach of Return to Forever with the group insisting on performing an ethereal Electric Jazz/Fusion, based on the solos of Corea on electric piano.Although the atmosphere is quite tropical with the mix of jazzy improvisations with Latin-American Music, there is always a very virtuosic side on the group's performance with plenty of instrumental battles, led by Joe Farrell's saxes and Corea's leading figure.Very often the music becomes really furious, usually when Corea leads it, with a superb rhythm section supporting.Series of impressive individual solos, a fair amount of great interplays, lovely singing and wordless vocals by Flora Purim and some smooth grooves complete a very good album indeed.And there are still moments (like on the opening ''You're Everything''), where the sound flirts with Lounge Jazz, creating dreamy images and chill-out soundscapes.

Diverse, complete and professional Jazz/Fusion.Well-played and at moments quite intricate.Recommended to fans of the style and beyond...3.5 stars.

Review by patrickq
3 stars I have to admit I was expecting this album, which is billed as "Chick Corea's Return to Forever," to be a bit heavier than it is. Corea had appeared on two seminal Miles Davis albums, In a Silent Way (1968) and Bitches Brew (1970). While neither was really a jazz-rock LP, the latter was definitely a step in that direction. Corea then teamed up with Billy Cobham and Bitches Brew alum John McLaughlin on a Larry Coryell album (which I haven't heard). By the time Light as a Feather was recorded, Corea had also gone electric, so to speak.

But the piano-driven Light as a Feather turns out to be an urbane affair, half of which - - to my surprise - - is vocal.

Flora Purim's singing takes a little while to get used to. But the songs make sense as vocal pieces. A good example is the title track, an eleven-minute piece on which Purim sings at the beginning and end. Between these sections, around the five-minute mark, the saxophone enters for the first time. There was no need for sax until that point in the song. Similarly, there's no need for vocals in the middle of the "Light as a Feather," so there are none. Purim returns for the last minute and a half, after the sax has left. (Saxophonist Joe Farrell plays flute during the vocal parts and during Corea's solo.)

"Spain," they say, is one of Corea's seminal works. Purim's wordless vocals are OK, although her percussion work is of more value in my opinion. Her husband, drummer Airto Moreira, is excellent on this track, which is a nice showcase for the rhythm section, which includes Stanley Clarke on upright bass and, at times, Corea's electric piano. As is the case across the album, though, Corea is the star on "Spain," with Farrell (flute) in more of a supporting role. Just after 7:30, Clarke takes a one-minute solo, which is nice, although personally I'd rather have heard an electric bass solo. Similar in structure to "Light as a Feather," "Spain" revisits its opening themes in its last minute and a half.

Light as a Feather isn't smooth jazz or easy listening, but it's still "light" in some respects. For example, the role of the guitar in more rock-based fusion is here usually taken by a flute. Corea also favors the upper register of the electric piano, sprinkling liberal helpings of right-hand filigrees in his solos. As seems more common in jazz than in rock, the bass is a backing instrument on Light as a Feather, despite the fact that it's played by a bona fide virtuoso- - further contributing to the light feel.

Jazz piano isn't exactly my favorite kind of fusion, especially not when there's so much focus just on the pianist. But Light as a Feather is an enjoyable listen which balances Corea's chops with ensemble passages, sax/flute leads, and vocal sections.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is certainly one of the greatest albums of all time. A Fender Rhodes electric piano was never played so well. Chick Corea just puts everything down playing frenetic jazz in latin rhythms. The kitchen, provided by Airto Moreira and Stanley Clarke, is simply perfect! I was actually blown aw ... (read more)

Report this review (#1102229) | Posted by Fredfolkblues | Sunday, December 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Light as a Feather ? 1972 (3.8/5) 12 ? Best Song: Spain Can a man be blamed for hopping atop a grand piano and shouting 'vocal maturation'? I don't know where they got a singer like this, but Flora Pinum is from the Billie Holiday school in the best possible manner. There's also a larger fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#440495) | Posted by Alitare | Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Chick's rhodes sound open the album and a female voice joins and I feel like this is a bit disappointing, it's like this is not so well acomplished...but after a while...hey man! this flows! and it rules! I'm not quite in the latin/jazz/brazilian mode, but let me tell you that this album can do i ... (read more)

Report this review (#308204) | Posted by migue091 | Thursday, November 4, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Light as a Feather" is .5 better that their previous one the self title Return to Forever. This album would be the last one feturing the beautiful voice of Flora Purim and the flute, saxophone player Joe Farrell. This album is THE BEST album for the RHODES, a must if you're a rhodes fan. Just ... (read more)

Report this review (#79137) | Posted by Fido73 | Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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