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Return To Forever - Music Magic CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.85 | 106 ratings

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2 stars This album is something of a cruel let down after the heights of the previous incarnation of Return To Forever, which went out on a high with Romantic Warrior. Here Chick Corea and his main sidekick Stanley Clarke seemed to have decided to turn their backs on their rock audiences and tried to steer clearly in the direction of commercial jazz fusion that was paved by Weather Report. This drastic change made for a distinctly less interesting album, that has a few moments that measure up to the standards set by previous works like Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy and Romantic Warrior ... and it's fair share of spine-chilling muzak! I'm not sure if my prejudice against vocal jazz is to blame (every song here has vocals whereas Romantic Warrior was totally instrumental) but there is some seriously lame stuff on here.

I'm not kidding. Take the second tune Hello Again for instance. It might as well be Kenny G, Michael Buble and Diana Krall covering a Captain & Tenille number ... it's that awful! The majority of songs however are quite schizophrenic, combining awesome musical segments with bad poppy vocals in a manner I've never heard before or since.

The Musician for example has a pleasing brassy intro and great cello segment but the annoying vocals from Gayle Moran and a sort of "lounge jazz" bit towards the end ruin the song. So Long Mickey Mouse starts off as an R&B duet, albeit with wordless vocals, before it bursts into some exciting jazz fusion, with some nice electric piano work from Corea and great bass riffing from Clarke. Do You Ever also kicks off with some nice piano and bass lines but then becomes an over the top folky tune. It's almost like Renaissance meets Steely Dan this one, but it doesn't quite work for me.

The two greatest travesties occur during the title track and The Endless Night, both of which contain some truly excellent proggy moments and equally awful vocal segments. Musicmagic has some great piano playing in the intro and then moves into what feels like an improvised section, which isn't bad except for a few cheesy synth sounds. then suddenly at the four minute mark it becomes a disco-inflected soul duet! I kid you not! This is so bad that even the brilliant Corea solos (first on organ, then on electric piano) that follow can't quite make you forget what you've heard! After an interesting guitar/bass exchange, the band returns to the ultra cheesy vocal part, before going for an excellent proggy outro. The Endless Night is more of the same ... great intro, pure classical interludes with a harpsichord passage and a fanfare theme, and then a jazzy vocal with some awesome fills and leads, lovely flute touches, strings, organ, you name it ... everything a progger could want, except lame pop-jazz vocals!

This frustrating album has some four star musical moments, but too many one-star vocal segments to keep afloat. I can barely bring myself to listen to it, yet I don't want to part with it. ... 40% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 2/5 |


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