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Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.28 | 672 ratings

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4 stars I've changed my mind quite often as to which Return To Forever album I enjoy the most, but I think ultimately, even though Hymn Of the Seventh Galaxy seems more ground-breaking, Romantic Warrior wins out because it has a much wider range of textures (helped quite possibly by the fact that every member of the classic quartet of Corea, Clarke, DiMeola and White wrote at least one song here). The fact that this brilliant outfit didn't last (in this form at least) beyond this compelling album adds to the mystique of one of the finest jazz-rock groups ever.

Medieval Overture comes in breathing fire and brimstone and then proceeds to be both funky and proggy (with some killer Lenny White drum moments) before drastically cutting the pace with a free form solo and then reinventing itself as a series of rapid-fire jams. Sorceress on the other hand starts off with a fat slab of funk before a stunning exchange of solos ensues, Corea's electric piano work is superceeded by a DiMeola guitar masterpiece before Corea returns to steal the show with some top-notch spacey synth work. He then takes the piece into the stratosphere with a heavenly acoustic piano solo that blends conventional jazz with avant-garde techniques! This Lenny White composition might just be my favourite ever RTF track

Then again it may be the laid-back epic of a title track that I love the most. With a lush acoustic guitar making the intial running, Romantic Warrior is an atypically mellow piece. The lyrical piano playing from Corea is delightful and there's some lovely accompaniement from both Clarke and Di Meola (some of his playing here is gorgeous) and all that comes before Clarke takes over with a truly brilliant bass solo. It's so damn melodic and groovy at the same time. DiMeola's acoustic then moves back in and takes this piece outta sight. I love the feeling the musicians exude of having so much time and space in which to express themselves.

The rock guitar base of Majestic Dance, with its memorable melody (that for some reason calls to mind The Allman Brothers) is another great DiMeola moment. Aside from his power riffing, this piece has some sudden marimba/Moog interludes to break it up. The Magician also has some interesting textures. Although I don't enjoy the shrill guitar leads at the beginning of the track, there's certainly more than enough of the fluttering, shimmering sort of contribution to win me over even before a fanfare takes over. The opening of Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant is strangely similar to the sort of keyboard sounds and lines that Tony Banks was using at the same time, although the similarity ends after about 30 seconds because the group launch into atmospheric jazz fusion, there's lots of string and great electric piano, some Moogy synth, outstanding bass work by Clarke, and while I don't like Di Meola axe tone here ... the mystical sounding outro is pretty cool.

All in all, Romantic Warrior is undoubtedly among the most important jazz-fusion records ever and one that hordes of progressive rock fans will enjoy. ... 81% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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