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Return To Forever - The Mothership Returns CD (album) cover


Return To Forever


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.51 | 53 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars After their Romantic Warrior reunion tours of the late 00's (which has reunited Chick, Lenny, Stanley and ADM), RTF came back for another one of their album celebration, this time Hymn Of The Sevent Galaxy. Indeed, the original intent was to get Connors to return and play homage to their best album ever (IMHO, anyway), but it turns out Connors couldn't make it. So Corea turned to his Elektrik Band long-time comrade Frank Gambale, and in the process invited the French violin legen JL Ponty, this was born RTF4. Notthat this line- up has released any new material: it just toured and concentrated on mainly two album for their sets: RW and 7th Galaxy.

This triple disc affair is a strictly live one, with the third beng a DVD where there are for features, including a lengthy but relatively uninteresting interview, a short RTF career resume, and more importantly, two of the lengthier track in their set. Apprently, if the comrades appear relatively affected by their respective ages (only Ponty seems to have aged more gracefully), it doesn't seem to impede their stage play, and RTYF still has lots to offer in concert. The quintet is in fine musical form, even Lenny, who seemed relatively weaker in their previous RW project. Of course, the quintet adapted the music of those two mythical album to fit their five-man front, and that might just be the main attraction of this album, but it's of relatively limited interest, because the nature of the tracks are still very close to the originals, despite the much lengthier versions. Indeed, Senor Mouse, Renaissance, Cosmic Rain and Romantic Warrior are all expanded beyond their studio duration, so that everyone one stage can blow a bit of steam. Another two attractions are the 8-mins Gil/Miles Spanish thing and Stanley's famous title track from his School Days solo album, though I could've done without the audience-participation sing-along chorus bit. Frank Gambale fits in fine in filling both Connors or ADM's shoes, while Ponty's violin intervention go from enthralling to relatively clumsy, sometimes temporarily breaking the spell of the original composition.

While the first two CD discs are sharing fairly evenly the almost two hours of the show, the third disc holds as much interest, despite the afore-mentioned interview's relative lack of interest. Unless you like your musical heroes self-gloating and goofing around unnaturally, you won't be watching that first feature a second time. The only reason to do so would be to catch glimpses of the other tracks of the sets, which are not offered without the interview comments. The two longer pieces of Cosmic Rain and Romantic Warrior are indeed available on their own, and if these are the DVD highlights, one wonders why they didn't do the whole set that way. As for the closing forgettable Story Of, it's rather insignificant. Sooooooo, the Mithership Returns package is a bit of a mixed-bag affair, with the CDs holding evident interest, but it is with the DVD that lies the disappointment. One that could've been easily avoided too: Just the full filmed set, without the interviews and its expandable gloating and boasting would've been infinitely more satisfying.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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