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Return To Forever

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Return To Forever Romantic Warrior album cover
4.30 | 814 ratings | 83 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Medieval Overture (5:14)
2. Sorceress (7:34)
3. The Romantic Warrior (10:52)
4. Majestic Dance (5:01)
5. The Magician (5:29)
6. Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant (11:26)

Total Time 45:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / Yamaha organ, piano, Fender Rhodes, Hohner clavinet, Polymoog, Minimoog, Moog 15, Micromoog, ARP Odyssey, marimba, percussion, producer
- Al DiMeola / guitars (electric, acoustic & soprano), percussion
- Stanley Clarke / basses (Alembic, acoustic & piccolo), percussion
- Lenny White / drums, congas, cymbals, timbales, timpani, hand bells, snare drum

Releases information

LP Columbia - PC 34076 (1976, US)
LP CBS - S 81221 (1976, UK)
LP CBS/Sony - 25AP 55 (1976, Japan)

CD Columbia - CK 46109 (1990, US) Remastered by Mark Wilder
CD Sony Records - SRCS 7004 (1991, Japan)
CD Legacy - CK 65524 (1999, Europe) Reissue of 1990 Columbia remaster
SACD SME Records - SRGS-4519 (1999, Japan)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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RETURN TO FOREVER Romantic Warrior ratings distribution

(814 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

RETURN TO FOREVER Romantic Warrior reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars THE FUSION AT ITS BEST! If you look for top technical performance, extremely loaded music, a mix of progressive and jazz incredible arrangements, then this record is for you! We are talking about top notch musicians: they are (were) all among the best in the world: Chick Corea: keyboards / Al Di Meola: guitars / Stanley Clark: bass / Lenny White: drums

Ouf!! Those guys together will make you speakers to explode!! Imagine: you have the feeling that all the instruments want to steal the show! But this is an illusion, because a careful listening tells you that every instruments are extremely well synchronized and rather work together to produce a music almost impossible to play live!!


Review by loserboy
4 stars "Romantic Warrior" is one of my all-time favourite classic fusion jazz-rock album containing some simply mind busting instrumental interplay. "Romantic Warrior" brought 4 of the world's most talented and creative musicians together (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al Di Meola). Right from the onset you know that this album is going to be pushing all cylinders. Songs are nice and long and certainly cover a nice wide range of moods and textures.especially in their wide use of instrumentation. Corea employs a wide range of keyboards , synths, organ, piano while Clarke accents with his own classic bass textures (Piccolo bass, acoustic bass, fretless bass). Lenny White's complex yet comprehensible percussive strokes are interwoven with Di Meola's outstanding guitar fingerings (electric and acoustic guitars). The entire ensemble sound tight and highly progressive exuding a high degree of control while releasing tons of energy. Essential album and certainly needs to heard in the same light as early MAHAVISHNU and WEATHER REPORT masterpieces.
Review by lor68
5 stars This is the best "Fusion progressive" album of the last twenty years... an exceptional mix of jazz, jazz rock and progressive, which will be one of the main references also for US Prog bands like ECHOLYN (listen to "Suffocating the Bloom", where the style of YES and GENTLE GIANT meets that one by RETURN TO FOREVER, above all inside the present "Romantic Warrior")... such Chick Korea's keyboards are fantastic, probably you find his best job here!!

Highly recommended!!

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars With the Mahavishnu's MkII line-up now disappeared, and the Mk III that was clearly not going to last, RTF stepped in to fill the void with this RW album. Indeed while MO always included some classical music (Stravinski mostly, but Bartok as well) in their fiery fusion, RTF had mostly stayed clear of that if you'll except the Spanish influence via Rodrigo's Aranjuez n a few tracks. With these classical twists on RW, RTF started sounding more "prog" ala Yes than the previous albums, something that is reinforced by the medieval prog-leaning sleeve artwork and the album concept based on medieval stories. BTW, Chick had to allow his RTF partners to place compositions (one each, him keeping three) on this album. After four albums on Polydor, RTF moved to CBS, and the album was released by the mid of 76. BTW, please read my trusted colleague Dick heath's review on this very album, because he adds more issues I share.

I never really investigated to see who copied who on the album's opening track called Medieval Overture, but the opening seconds have a definite Gentle Giant, so obvious that I am never able to fully forget it, while listening to the album. While I wouldn't reduce this track to a blatant copying of GG, both groups share the capacity to handle some of the most complex music with the utmost ease. The following Sorceress, is a fantastic Lenny White-penned slow-starting funky scorcher, but past that, White's drumming can only amaze us, but Corea's vitriolic piano solo is voluptuous, coloured, rhythmic, yet burns holes in your stomach like the best of those Southern Georgia moonshine bourbons!!! The 11-mins title track is also a killer with Chick's opening piano and Clarke bowed contrabass intro, the track builds up gradually, allowing White to dazzle us, even if the real hero is Clarke's bass ruling over Chick's suspended & floating piano, ADM's Spano-Flamenco guitar while Clarke takes the bow to the contrabass to close the debate. Stunning stuff somehow very reminiscent of its preceding track

The flipside opens on ADM's over-estimated Majestic Dance; while most groups would cry for a composition of this calibre, this track is the weakest of the album, ADM sounding like Carlos, Chick choosing some poor synth sounds, the marimba bringing you again on GG grounds; and it isn't majestic nor is it danceable. Most amazingly is Clarke Magician track, which plunges once more into GG territory, with Chick's synths almost bringing the track to a dead stop, before Stan picks up the track in an ultra-funky manner and some kind of ill-advised fanfare brings us to ADM's Hackett-ian guitar shrills. Although flawlessly played, it is obvious RTF cannot find ideas of their own and they set out to pillage the Shulman-Minnear mines. At least, the closing Jester & Tyrant track avoids falling in the same trap (partly anyway), especially in the opening minutes where one might hear some Banks-ian layers and a very decent first section, but the track almost gets lost in the second part of the Duel with lightning speed solos, some on excruciatingly bad sounding synth, courtesy of Chick, but all four musos are just wanking away at their respective instruments. No wonder punk happened quickly.

Among the few negatives, I can think of, 1- Chick's obsession with new technologies, especially in the synthesizers department (but this is not his plight alone, many jazz-rockers shared it as well, the later 70's ultra competitiveness creating such a race to "innovation") caused him to find some disputable synth sounds that nowadays sound extremely cliché; 2- the need to stuff every second of the maximum amount of notes (Birds Of Fire does it better and Miles once asked: why play so many notes? just plat the good ones!); 3- the GG pillaging (and Genesis to a lesser extent), although to actually match the GG style is impressive enough, this shows that RTF was running out of ideas, something this writer hints already after their WHIKYB album. While this album is all too appreciated by the crowd and especially the symphonic-minded progheads, I am not keen on giving it the "essential" label, because of its borrowings, but the album can actually be an excellent introduction to those Symph prog fans to the jazzy realms of the Jazz-rock of the early 70's and the fusion of the second part of the 70's.

Review by Dick Heath
3 stars RTF's true prog rock album?

There are many stories that circulate about "Romantic Warrior", e.g 1. Recorded in the studio nextdoor to Yes recorded "Topographic Oceans" - difficult when "Romantic Warrior" was recorded 1976, Oceans in 1973 - some other Yes album.................? 2. Stanley Clarke's favourite bass guitarist was Chris Squire......?

However, Chick Corea had certainly sneaked in to guest on straight rock albums, e.g. Rick Derringer's "Spring Fever" or playing with Steve Vai (name that album?). These guys could do rock without the jazz.

Compared to "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy", often said to be one of jazz rock's best albums, this is a different kettle of fish. Different line-up (Al DiMeola supplying more Latin chops than Bills Connors), while Clarke, White and DiMeola were now doing their own things as band leaders as well as their boss. There was too newertechnology in the studio and on stage.

By now RTF had signed to Columbia Records, who had many of the early 70's jazz rock bands on their books, there the business was aiming mega-sales and that was in the rock-crossover marketplace. Many of these factors would suggest to a band seeking success and wealth (with Company pressures), by aiming at the rock, rather than dwindling jazz or jazz rock, audiences - and with "Romantic Warrior" RTF hit the target.

"Romantic Warrior" is one of the best albums of its time, especially sans vocals. However, nowadays I will listen to "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy" (on CD) in preference to "Romantic Warrior" (still in vinyl) almost every time, to hear a band hungry for success, busting with new ideas and the resulting music full of energy. "Romantic Warrior" is a more mature album but the energy is diluted (too much fussing over the technology), ideas getting tired?

Review by Jimbo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I find it extremely difficult to approach these Jazz-rock/Fusion supergroups (with the exception of Mahavishnu Orchestra). You only need to gaze through the line-up once to see how ridiculously talented musicians we have here. So, it's safe to say that if technical performance is the thing you look for in music - well, it simply doesn't get any better than this. Unfortunately, with extreme talents there usually tends to be a lot of showing-off also. That's not completely the case here, however. They're not exactly showing-off, just playing with so much mathematical preciseness that they seem to have forgotten music's main purpose - to appeal to human emotions. RTF simply do not have the emotional capacity or the furious energy and experimentation that made Mahavishnu Orchestra so wonderful. While prog fans are often accused of listening to music with no emotions, I will always choose a band that appeals to my emotions over a robotic powerhouse (RTF, Dream Theater) that tries to appeal to my brain. Romantic Warrior is a good album, but it had the potential to be so much better than this. 3,5 stars
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Romantic Warrior is a fusion / jazz conceptual album around medieval fantasy. Chick Corea operates as the real leader of the project but he is formidably accompanied by a bunch of talented musicians as Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke...The music alternates fast, very technical bass / guitar sections, crossing the duet with a stunning piano touch and epic, symphonic, ironical interludes. The mood is constantly changing, turning into free improvisations and basic jazzy lines. The second track delivers a nice funky guitar set accompanied by a long jazzy, sometimes romantic piano solo of Chick Corea. The self titled track is incredible. After a rising introduction into a deep, fantastic atmosphere (with piano scales and acoustic guitar) we have breaks mixing duets between bass / guitar / piano chords, always returning to the initial rhythmical accompaniment after each interplay. The guitar style of Al DiMeola is always very personal, orientated to speed accuracy, palm mute technique alternative picking (up & down stroke). The alchemy is sensational. "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" begins with a strange, amazing and grandiose synth introduction. After that we have a beautiful, relaxing keyboard / piano lines punctuated by technical, fast, "heavy" guitar solos, some humorous passages are added to mark the transition before slapping bass solos or speed, "shred" guitar solos. The duel is clearly assumed between the two guitarists. A landmark of technical fusion / jazz. A perfect association of instrumental, various suites for soloing musicians. An album that made the band unique.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album I owned after I knew "The Endless Night" of the quartet other album "Music Magic" and the music presented here has an intricate and complex balance of sensibilities and abilities and artistic tastes. When the 20-Bit Digitally Remastered edition was released, I upgraded my cassette collection into CD with new liner notes written by Chick Corea in May 19999. This album has special meaning for me because at the time my collection of music tended to be in heavier part - the rocking part, I would say. I am amazed how these four geniuses work together to compose and perform great music which blends jazz (the most one), rock and avant-garde into top notch composition. From the opening track "Medieval Overture" it's clear how the four work dynamically to offer something different to the ears and mind of the listeners. "Sorcerers" gives more power of the quartet's music with great improvisation of guitar, keyboard / piano. The piano solo as well as guitar solo are truly stunning.

"The Romantic Warrior" starts off in slower tempo with piano touch but what so obvious is the chance given to Stanley Clarke to perform his bass guitar improvisations throughout the track. Awesome! "Majectic Dance" sounds to me like a jazz-rock fusion in continuous flow of the music. "The Magician" sees the band again in their peak virtuosity with their individual skill in playing their instruments. Everyone is given a chance to demonstrate how good they perform the music. The interesting point is that this track has a multi-part structure combining complex and soft music destined to give a chance for each musician to play their instruments. "Duel of The Jester and The Tyrant" is the cream of cream of this album. WOW! The music of this track is really unbelievable and I never imagined before that there would be the kind of music as complex and as wonderful as this one! This is a masterpiece. The song moves dynamically from an ambient opening with keyboard and basslines to segments with much power and complex arrangements. Al Di Meola and Chick Corea play similar notes / chords together in a very nice harmony at one part but after that they seem like play different things but the song seems cohesive as one integrated composition. Chick Corea piano touch has characterized the kind of sounds he has built throughout his career as jazz musician. AL Di Meola plays rocking guitar part which gives the music is rich with textures.

Overall, I can find no shortcoming at all from this album at segment, song or even album level. In fact, the cover artwork is also a great one. It's definitely a masterpiece. If you like the kind of prog music with heavy influence of jazz, this album would fit your taste. Don't miss it, my friend ..and don't forget to say this mantra: Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Elegance is the word. The most correct way to describe this wonderful album. At least, in my opinion. And it has to be noticed that I'm not a great fan of the jazz-rock/fusion genre itself. In the past I generally avoided to buy records like these 'cause I was sure they simply weren't made for my ears. Also now I have some problems to get into, but I found some important gems to open the door to this new musical progrock world.

Romantic Warrior's influence on me was so unespected and unbelievable: I was completely blown away since the very first listenings. I know that the most experts would certainly stigmatize my enthousiasm explaining this is a sort of symphonic-jazzrock album. All these finesses won't probably produce any effect on me 'cause I'm a sort of ignorant in this world. All I have done is sit down, relax and enjoy this fabulous record from beginning to end. Other well acclaimed albums simply did not have the same result on me, as for example Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds of Fire" or (to take a view to the other side of italian prog) Perigeo's "Abbiamo Tutti un Blues da Piangere".

The general mood of Romantic Warrior is builded by powerful and elaborated arrangements, wisely enriched with very sparse reminiscences of the middle-age, due to the album's subject itself. Keyboards' master Chick Corea along with a certain Al Di Meola on guitar mixed their style in a very sublime way. Drums and bass are played scientifically without any foult by, respectevely, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke. The opener "Medieval Overture" really opens a tour de force! There are not excesses here, all the sound and the songs' structure are complex but never compromising the keystone: elegance!

Easily a five stars rating.

Review by Chus
4 stars Return To Forever was put together by the musical genius Chick Corea, and this is arguably it's best lineup. Al Di Meola is one of the most inventive and amazing guitar shredders around and Stanley Clark is at a level of his own in bass playing. Chick Corea is amazing when it comes to versatility... he could play in a myriad of styles, ranging from Classical to Bossa Nova to Latin Jazz. Lenny White is good at keeping the rhythm going, but the spotlight in this album really goes for the former three musicians, but from time to time he does some explosive playing.

Romantic Warrior has a mistaken concept regarding the music in it; while one expects to be awed at medieval soundscapes and chivalry imagery, the music does not work to that extent. It's rather a very good fusion of jazz, funk, blues and rock; but while perhaps accidentally there are medieval elements, they are not decipherable easily.

The most adventurous track and my personal favourite is "Dual Of The Jester and The Tyrant", which has incredible interplay and the most powerful riff below great showcases from Di Meola, Clark and Corea. Also worth of notice is the interplay in "Majestic Dance", which is a more straight rocker. "Sorceress" has clear indication of funk, while the rest is more blurred when considering the dominating style... it's simply fusion.

The rest is also great, but can't really hold a candle for "Dual". The only flaw I find is that the music is not faithful to the concept the album suggests, and that's a considerate flaw when you think of progressive music as music that should work in a context. But in all, if you want to start your fusion collection, I'd suggest to start with this one. 4 stars

Review by Guillermo
4 stars This is a good Jazz-Rock album which I also listened a long time ago. The four musicians in this band showed their skills, and each member is a very good musician. Chick Corea`s use of the synthesizers is very good, and he really knew how to get very good sounds from them, considering that this album is from 30 years ago and that the technology from those years in keyboards wasn`t as advanced as today. This is a band of "virtuosos", IMO. The song that I liked more and which has very good keyboard sounds and a bass guitar solo is "Medieval Overture" which sounds "mysterious". Other parts of the album have some commercial jazz influences, but as a whole this album is good.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not being an expert in Jazz, I always have a hard time trying to review albums from Jazz Fusion bands, but when you have the chance to listen genius of the size of Chick Korea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, it's worth the effort, so I took "Romantic Warrior" from the shelf where I keep the albums I hardly ever listen and decided to give a try.

After so many years without listening this excellent album, I had almost forgottern how it sounded so it was almost a discovery and a very pleasant one, they are far better than I remembered.

"Medieval Overture" is simply perfect, even when flows coherently from start to end (something not so common in Jazz where free performance is usual), the radical changes from Jazz to some sort of Spacey King Crimson sound, simply impressive.

If I had some doubts about their Prog attributes, all were dissipated by this track, Chick Corea is without doubt a master of any genre and he is the one that IMO adds the Prog elements with his display with the keyboards. The song ends with the interplay of all the bands that reminds of Medieval battles, a great opener.

"Sorceres" starts with a very short oneiric keyboard intro soon followed by bass and drums in perfect synchronicity, even though it's evidently a Jazz song, the dreamy atmosphere reminds during all the track, except in the sections where Al DiMeola goes nuts with his extraordinaire solos remembering that the rock element is also present.

"The Romantic Warrior" starts again with a dreamy keyboard intro and DiMeola helps to achieve the atmosphere with his acoustic guitar, but suddenly Stanley Clarke takes the lead guiding the rest of the band with his bass well backuped by Lenny White in the drums.The song remains almost inalterable for several minutes allowing all the musicians to show their skills in their respective instruments but always directed by Clarke who keeps the precise timing.

Around the middle of the track, DiMeola adds a Flamenco touch, it's hard to say which musician is better because they alternate carefully showing us how skilled they are but without loosing coherence, maybe too slow and predictable for my taste but still the performances are brilliant.

"Majestic Dance" reminds me of Jean Luc Ponty's masterpiece "Aurora", even when in this case the keyboards provide a Medieval touch, after the first minute you can expect anything, they go from Medieval Clavichord sections to a full jazzy explosion, this collision of sounds and styles is simply breathtaking. And then they take their Rocker costumes and hit us with everything they have, my favorite song from the album.

"The Magician" is another high point, probably the closer they get to Prog, the ethereal moods and atmospheres created by Corea remind clearly of Wakeman but of course less pompous, again the radical changes keep surprising the listener, the final section is captivating.

The mini epic "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is supposed to be the central point and culmination of the whole concept of the album and fulfills it mission, soft dreamy passages interrupted by sudden explosions of power and energy and a extremely beautiful subjacent melody, a highlight and the perfect closer, 11 minutes of all that "RETURN TO FOREVER" can provide.

As everybody here knows Fusion is not my favorite sub-genre, but this is an album that doesn't deserve to be forgotten so much time in a box while less impressive alnbums are almost always in my Cd player, so I will keep it closer than ever before and play it from time to time.

The rating is not hard for me, not 5 stars material (I leave that for some Ponty albums and Visions of Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu) because I could manage to live without listening it for years and I'm sure many Progheads can without any trouble, so essential is not (At least not for everybody), but rating with less than 4 stars would be a disrespect,. So that's my rating, a great addition for any Progressive Rock collection.

Review by Zitro
3 stars A big display of musicianship that would make many musicians feel like they just picked up their instruments. Just think of a moment and think of what these four musicians are capable of playing. Chick Corea is among the best piano players you could think of in this genre, Al Dimeola's shredding technique may be on par with John Petrucci, and the rhythm section features extraordinary musicians. However, hearing this album makes me wonder if they are doing the "show-off" or really putting effort into songwriting. The album seems to lack good musical ideas, melodies and riffs. The music doesn't make me feel almost anything. I tend to hear calculated odd time signatures, extremely complicated arrangements, and technical soloing.

Medieval Overture has a very eerie and majestic guitar-synthesizer unison in the middle section but most of the rest focuses on a very random and awkward synthesizer riff. The Sorceress is better, being a pleasant, if unexciting, laid back track that leaves room for improvisation. Romantic Warrior is my favorite track here, because it displays some good themes. There are some riffs that are too acrobatic for my tastes but they don't interfere with the song too much. Majestic Dance doesn't sustain my interest as it puts too much emphasis on speed/instrumental acrobatics and some of the keyboard sounds make it sound lighthearted and a bit out of place. Talking about lightheartedness, The Magician is completely silly and has nothing but pointless noodling except for an excellent electric guitar solo near the end. Duel of the Jester starts very epic with a magnificent synth riff reminiscent of the middle section of "Medieval Overture" but the song is nothing more than a good jam in the first half and a collection of odd themes and riffs in the second half that is extraordinarily anti-climatic, considering that the album ends here.

I'll recommend this for people who take a big interest in listening to complex music and don't find melodies as essential as I do.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars Based on the reviews, it seems that you either love this album or find it a bit average. I guess I tend to think that Romantic Warrior is a bit on the uninspired side. Not that these guys aren't trying--there are plenty of great riffs, killer percussion bits, true proggy moments, and even some places where all four guys are rocking simultaneously. Unfortunately, most of these songs really don't hold up well and sound more like bits of ideas jammed together. There'll be a di Meola riff section, then a Corea synth bit, and maybe some rocking if we're lucky. In fact, I'd venture to say that there are only two or three good songs on this album. Romantic Warrior sounds like something Gentle Giant or PFM would come up with if they decided to try fusion, and the results are decent, but certainly not great.

The highlights: Sorceress, Romantic Warrior. Here the boys are all on the same page, and the results are quality music played with obvious energy and skill. Sorceress is a funky number and really finds a great groove, with a nice balance between melody and virtuosic playing (especially some piano runs from Corea and di Meola riffs). They also picked a killer song for the title track: a moody, jazzy number that never gets boring in its 11 minute run-time. EACH member integrates his distinct virtuosic playing expertly here (and like nowhere else on the album, in my opinion), but special note goes to Clarke on bass for some remarkable work.

The rest. The other four songs aren't bad, but they just seem to wander in and out of actual good music, and each of the members seem to make too much of an effort to get out of each other's way, and the result is just not cohesive for me. Medieval Overture has some truly incredible fusion moments, and Majestic Dance has some killer di Meola rocking, but neither can keep up the energy throughout. The Magician has some great spacey keyboard/guitar melody, but the goofy/silly parts spoil it somewhat for me, and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant is simply overlong at nearly 12 minutes.

If you want to rock, don't start here: go find Hymn for the Seventh Galaxy. If you want a combination of very playful prog, smooth jazz, and virtuosic playing, this might be right up your alley. Maybe this is fusion at it's apex. If that's the case, I choose to rock instead!

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Easily one of the more enjoyable and accessible fusion albums out there, featuring a fun, complex, and energetic set of songs heavy on personality and virtuosity and devoid of abstract avant-garde which makes fusion hard to listen to for some newcomers.

Romantic Warrior starts strong and ends strong, with plenty of style dazzle in between, from the solid grooves of Sorceress, the impossibly dramatic increasingly impressive virtuosity of the title track (Clarke's bass BURNS!), to the light-hearted and spirited Majestic Dance; lots of moods and lots of class.

Romantic Warrior has the band sounding their tightest and most polished, and is far and away THE Return to Forever to own, especially for someone just discovering the genre.

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

Review by sean
4 stars Great jazz/fusion album. All four members of Return to Forever are quite talented, and they do seem to enjoy showing that off, but I don't mind. The musicianship is fantastic throughout, and there is not a weak song on this album, though I don't think I would go so far as to call it a masterpiece. The songs are all, like the genre states, fusions of jazz and rock, and this one seems to lean further towards the rock side than a lot of the jazz-rock bands, and features a typical rock line up of guitar, bass, drums, and keys, and lacks the horn section common in much jazz. The music is very technical, probably to the point of what a lot of people would say lacking emotion. Don't go into listening to this expecting a great emotional revelation, but it is just fun music to listen to. The musicians are all obviously having a good time making these songs and the listener should as well. I think the highlights of this album tend to be the longer tracks, as my favourites are The Romantic Warrior and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant.
Review by Gooner
3 stars You'll notice in this entry that it mentions Chick Corea plays keyboard(s). Yes indeed, he plays keyboards alright. He plays every keyboard in the book, of which, IMHO drags down the recording big time. It's as though Chick Corea raided the closets of Il Volo, PFM, Eela Craig, SFF, Banco, ELP, Rick Wakeman, and Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant and decided throw them all on this album(check out the sampler on this website of the _Dual Of The Jester And The Tyrant_...the whole album is like this). The other distraction is Stanley Clarke where his popping bass appears on almost every track. Don't get me wrong, I love Stanley Carke but I prefer him on his solo albums. Then there's Al DiMeola, playing his axe at breakneck speed but not really saying anything. Lenny White? Well, he's drumming all over the place as per usual. To these ears, it all sounds like they phoned in their contributions while leaving Chick Corea to his vices to finish'er off. All depending on your tastes, this is a great album for keyboard fanatics, but as far as outstanding FUSION, there's a lot to be desired. Stick to HYMN OF THE SEVENTH GALAXY from 1973(which is a 5 star masterpiece).
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars I'm not at all an expert on Jazz-Rock/Fusion and I haven't (yet) heard very much that I like from this genre. But I immediately liked Romantic Warrior. The keyboards, the guitars, the drums and the basses are all played with enormous skill and urgency. The music is very complex yet somehow melodic and accessible. There is feeling in the playing and it is not just technical for the sake of it.

The problem I usually have with Jazz-Rock/Fusion music is that it leans too close to Jazz and contains too little Rock influences. Romantic Warrior is true Fusion in the sense that it is not just regular Jazz played with rock instruments. Still, there are many passages here that are close to Jazz. But there is just enough Rock to keep it interesting throughout for me.

The best tracks are the first and the last one. The Medieval Overture sounds a bit like an alarm bell at the beginning and I have indeed been using it as such for a couple of weeks now! So I wake up every morning to the sound of Romantic Warrior. There is no hurry to push the snooze button!

Romantic Warrior is a great album title and it has a great cover art too, and the music! Probably the best Jazz-Rock/Fusion album of all time and also one of the best all instrumental albums of any category. A great introduction for the Prog fan to Jazz-Rock/Fusion, I think.


Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Four months ago I reviewed "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy", "No Mystery" and "Where Have I Known You Before" all within about a week. When I came to this album I listened to it a couple of times and concluded that it wasn't nearly as good as the previous three records. Knowing how popular this album is I decided maybe I was burnt out on their music and needed a break, so here I am 4 months later, and guess what ? I still feel the same way. In fact I put on the other albums today as a comparison, and still feel this is for whatever reason my least favourite of those I already mentioned. Some of the reviewers here have described this album as being more Progressive, more Rock oriented or more Classical. All I know is that it doesn't excite me or leave me shaking my head from being so impressed like the previous three do.There's no accounting for taste right ? The keyboard sounds are part of the problem for me.

"Medieval Overture" opens with keys that sound ok I guess. Nice drumming 1 1/2 minutes in though, and I like the spacey synths before 2 minutes and the haunting vibe that follows.The tempo picks up and we get some nice bass after 3 minutes. Big finish. "Sorceress" has a funky rhythm as piano plays over top. DiMeola comes in and lights things up before 1 1/2 minutes as bass throbs. Lots of piano in this one. "The Romantic Warrior" opens with some good atmosphere as piano starts to tinkle and acoustic guitar comes and goes. Bass and drums come in around 3 1/2 minutes. I like the intricate guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. A lot going on 8 minutes in. It settles 10 minutes in. "Majestic Dance" opens with guitar which is more prominant on this track. The tempo shifts a lot on this song.

"The Magician" is not surprisingly Stanley Clarke's composition because he's all over it. I like when it settles and the guitar almost soars for a while. Not a fan of the keys that follow though.The guitar late is fantastic, so is the bass that ends it. "The Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Part I & Part II)" is the longest track at 11 1/2 minutes.The tempo picks up a minute in but settles quickly again. I like the guitar 2 1/2 minutes in, DiMeola is so fast. The tempo continues to shift. Nice bass and drums before 7 minutes as guitar joins in. Blistering guitar before 9 minutes. Great track thanks to Al mostly.

Lots of excellent music to enjoy here, just not one of my favourite RETURN TO FOREVER albums that's all. I am blown away though when I focus on any one of these four amazing musicians (not so much Chick though), hence the rating of a low 4 stars.

Review by friso
4 stars Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior (1976)

Though the '73 Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy was a big disappointed, this Romantic Warrior hits the spot the for me. RtF returns with an album that really has some fantasy and an album that seems to hold some of our beloved progressive spirit. This technical fusion outfit, with Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny white finally became the 'super-group' it was supposed to be.

Return to Forever was influenced by medieval composition styles and made this unique combo of often heavy fusion with medieval characteristics on some tracks. More important, the band sounds very professional and has a well-balanced sound. No useless heavy distortions, no annoying sounding keys, not to much useless technical playing and the band even found a way to give there compositions some direction and meaning. Yes, RtF really showed what the possibilities were of their heavy fusion formula.

Side one is perhaps the stronger side. The opening track is still a bit chaotic, but the tight playing and perfect recording make the continues changing of themes acceptable and even enjoyable. Sorceress is a perfect fusion track with great rhythm and beautiful solo's. The title track continues this course, but expands the possibilities. Romantic Warrior is my favorite track of the band, and one of the best progressive fusion tracks I've ever heard. Great composition, great melody, great atmosphere, great form and meaningful solo's by all members. Side two is very technical and get's a bit quirky at times, but the music remains strong.

Conclusion. This is one of the few fusion albums I really think should be listened to by all fans of the progressive rock genre. It's sound stood the test of time perfectly and the compositions/atmospheres are strong. This shows that very technical performance by a super-group can have vary pleasant results. Four big stars.

Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars Time when Chick had invented the creation of reformative Jazz with the group and ECM of Miles might have been a moment when choices were expanded for him and the frame of Jazz was jumped over with various musicians. The knowledge that he is performed with Stan Gets and Miles Davis and obtained explodes with his originality and imagination in the 70's.

After RTF had been announced to the world for the first time in 1972, people got drunk on music that felt the love and happiness. It was live time of the time of the start 1973 year from this 1972 for RTF including Steve Gadd that supported their rhythms enough when the depth of the creation of Chick was made known to the world. And, Chick leaves the musician who trusts it and works on the music of harder impregnable defenses. It was not a reason that gave up RTF at the first time by Chick and came to hate it. However, having changed into the group that changes the form of the band and comes to the front the color of Chick is true in RTF from 1973. This might catch and people catch for RTF as the second time. Its pursuing a perfect idea of Chick resulted. And, it has exactly changed the color of the band into a thick color by changing the guitar player to Al Dimeola.

RTF at the second time pulls the act in 1976. It is this album. This album for the friend of Chick to make the poetry of poet's Neville Potter a theme might be an album of which the color of Chick went out considerably thickly. There was considerably an acknowledgment level of RTF because the member had already announced Solo Album respectively.

The performance of advanced "Medieval Overture" and each member can be satisfied with a high tension in a special rhythm. 「The Romantic Warrior」

Progressive music and the sound are invented in the history of RTF in this album. As for the music character, the person who likes Prog Rock might come to like it a little, too.

Review by The Quiet One
3 stars Prog Warrior

Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior has always been a dilemma for me since it features technically perfect musicans and some brilliant instrumental crafting, but the overall result has never striked me as technical Jazz Rock or something really jazzy which is what you expect from Corea & Friends; Romantic Warrior has always striked me as a Prog Rock album played by jazz-leaned musicians. And besides sounding more Prog Rock than Jazz Fusion, it has never been an album I enjoyed much due to its prog-rock-focus.

Right away with the opener entitled 'Medieval Overture' with its flashy modern keyboards and the ever-changing moods, even including some resemblance to Gentle Giant's medieval roots and weird complexity, you know that Return to Forever is not the jazz rock band which played the raw Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy and the elegant Where Have I Known You Before anymore.

The second tune called 'Sorceress' is the only part from Romantic Warrior which can be classified as straight Jazz Rock, with its funky but steady rhythm being the responsible of the inevitable addictiveness to the tune. However the main performer is Chick Corea with an excellent blend of various synths, a piano, an electric piano and some floating keyboards, all played with such proficiency and delicacy, you really can't ask for more. One of the band's greatest tunes.

As soon as 'Sorceress' finishes the title track begins in a very majestic way with Corea's fascinating piano, Meola's marvellous acoustic guitar and Stanley's upright bass. However that's only the intro, it then gets into a jazzy state with an excellent rhythm base which each member has the chance to step in and make an unbelievable solo. Superficially it may seem very much as a jazz rock tune because the musicians play unmistakably in a jazz rock manner, but the composition itself if you pay attention to the details you'll notice more of a prog-feel than a jazz rock one.

Next track is 'Majestic Dance' and this tune confirms that this is not Return to Forever playing jazz rock if not prog rock. Meola's catchy guitar riff then accompanied by Corea's synths is undeniably in the prog-vein. Anyway, Meola being the composer, he's undoubtedly the highlight here with his mind-blowing shredding. However the proof that Majestic Dance is inclined to prog rock are the bizarre passages with Corea's synth and a keyboard sound akin to a xylophone which reminds you of Ruth Underwood. It's good, but those bizarre passsages are unnecessary.

Romantic Warrior continues in the prog-vein with 'The Magician'. A frenetic tune full of oddities which reminds you once again of Gentle Giant's medieval influences and bizarreness. Probably the weirdest tune in Return To Forever's catalogue, and that's only because it yells Prog! Technically amazing, though zero pleasure listening to it

The album finishes with the highly acclaimed among Prog fans, 'Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant'. It's a 11 minute piece full of intricating sections varying from completely technical stuff to some soft jazzy-inclined passages to prog-esque stuff. The main performers are Chick Corea and Al Di Meola both dueling with some of the finest soloing I've ever heard, however there's also a lot of room for Lenny and Stanley to stand-out. Overall, a Prog instrumental which many prog bands wished they could make, however for my personal taste I would take any simple but addictive funky jazz rock tune to this technical show-off.

As a great mixture of Prog Rock and Jazz Fusion, they succeeded, no doubt. But unfortunately, they didn't really succeed to please me with the exception of the magnificent fusion track, 'Sorceress' and bits of others.

So, the conclusion to Romantic Warrior is a no-brainer for me, it's a refined and complex Prog Rock record made by jazz inclined musicians, however most of it doesn't strike a chord with me, the excessive medieval interludes and solos just seem to show-off and don't fit, it's rather unpleasant in places. I do want to make it clear that if you're looking for the jazz rock Return to Forever, this is not the place to come, either Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy or the even better Where Have I Known You Before are what a jazz rock fan should be looking for. Don't get me wrong I don't consider Romantic Warrior a Prog Rock record because it's technical, The Mahavishnu Orchestra has demonstrated being highly technical and even heavy, yet the jazz rock credentials are very clear in them, unlike in this record, Romantic Warrior with it's prog-esque cover-work and titles from the tunes, but more importantly, the clear way Return To Forever composed the tunes which is in a very prog-manner, so this can't, in my opinion, be considered a jazz rock classic either a masterpiece of that genre.

Anybody looking for some of the finest jazz rock musicians playing Prog Rock in a very technical way, Romantic Warrior is the way to go. However, I find most of the album just an exercise for the musicians, few of it really grabs me, thus 3 stars. If you're looking for a great technical Jazz Fusion band, Mahavishnu Orchestra's first two albums are mind-blowing and unique.

3 stars: Highly recommended to Prog fans, don't fear the Fusion label because anyone will admit that this record has more to do with Prog than with Fusion. For Fusion fans, well I'm sure you already have this, it's a classic because of its commercial success, but stylistically it's not really a Fusion masterpiece as 'Where Have I Known You Before'.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ha!

At first, I want to state few facts. I thought that this kind of Jazz (I can find on PA) is quite modern sounding music and cannot be applied to medieval. Of course, Jazz is now era of more or less second half of 20th century, so it is nostalgic now, but Middle Ages ? But it works.

Secondly, cover of this record looks like some kind of Symphonic group. Yep, I can imagine something like that. Quite easily, but again, even combination of these elements sounds at least weird at first look (do you look with your ears and hear with your eyes ? you don't ? try it, it's funny and satisfying).

So, does this work ? Am I imagining these events of times long gone ? Am I few hundreds years back and enjoying the view (full of dirt, dirty people, rough behavior but also a lot of knights, most of them following Chivalry code and acting as gentleman soldiers). Track that reminds me these times most is probably The Magician, on other I have to use an imagination a lot.

4(+), provided that you forget about medieval and jazz music and will just enjoy it. It can be hard though. Probably the best Jazz approach on these times, but it's not so favourite theme on Jazz records (smile)

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars This is an excellent album. I've only heard "Where Have I Known You Before" by the same band and I much prefer this one. It's a very complex mixture of fusion jazz. The single most impressive thing is that they're all completely synched in with one another making the overall album seem very simple. There's great keyboard work by Chick Corea and one or two of his slower bassy parts sounds spookily like "Apocalypse Now" to me! Nice album cover too which seems to fit the mood of the music. Refreshing and attractive with great analog synths. Close to five stars, but I'll stick with four.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Romantic Warrior is one of those handful of Jazz Rock/Fusion albums that have crossed the barrier of genre fans only material and is considered one of the masterpieces of progressive rock.

It's true that, with this release, Return To Forever have moved even further into prog domain. Unfortunately this transition wasn't without its flaws and made the band remove most of their magnificent Latin music influences that made them stand out among their competition. What we get here sounds more like a Symphonic Prog band trying to play Jazz Rock/Fusion than the other way around, which is quite an accomplishment from a band of their caliber. Still, the biggest question here is whether Romantic Warrior actually deserves the reputation that it has accumulated over all these years. My answerer is a definite no, but that doesn't mean that the record doesn't have its share of highlights.

The album begins with Chick Corea hitting a pretty excellent groove with his keyboards and we see immediately a huge change in the band's style. But this is only the beginning and only a few minutes into Medieval Overture the music transforms into ELP type of jam (+guitar) that should appeal to all prog fans. The next part of the album, including the title track, is in my opinion the weakest. Return To Forever just goes through their usual routines by creating a great lead melody that later moves over to the band's rhythmic section in order to give Al DiMeola and Chick Corea room to jam away for a few minutes. Nothing too spectacular, if you ask me, but thankfully they create enough momentum to keep me entertained for the time being.

The albums side two is where things finally return to the level that was displayed on the opening track. Majestic Dance and The Magician are another two Symphonic Prog-influenced compositions that keep the jam and soloing-work at just the right level without detaching me from the main lead sections. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant is where Return To Forever finally finds their own domain in this interesting new direction that they craved out for themselves. The music progresses much slower creating an atmosphere like I've never heard before and once Chick Corea plays the lead melody I completely bow down into submission. This is exactly what the band needed to play throughout the album in order to hit it off with me. This was unfortunately not the case and what I get instead from Romantic Warrior is another excellent Jazz Rock/Fusion record that just doesn't reach the level that its reputation might imply.

If you're a fan of progressive music and have never heard a Return To Forever-record then this is definitely the place to start. Just make sure to keep your expectations at a reasonable level and Romantic Warrior just might become an essential part of your music collection!

***** star songs: Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (11:26)

**** star songs: Medieval Overture (5:14) Sorceress (7:34) The Romantic Warrior (10:52) Majestic Dance (5:01) The Magician (5:29)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Romantic Warrior is one of the highest and most rated fusion albums on PA. This is no surprise given how 'Prog' this album is. During their career the band gradually switched from spontaneous combustion and jazzy improvisation to thoughtful composition, with lots of attention to melody and virtuosity. And since that is the holy trinity of Prog virtues, the album became very popular.

And rightfully so, while it doesn't satisfy my hunger for the freely flowing creativity of early 70s fusion, it is nothing less then an excellent release from a Prog perspective. The sound is smooth and rather slick but never cheesy, a trap carefully avoided by strong melodies, fitting virtuosity and rich complexity. The synths are all over the places and a bit dated sometimes but it's nothing that should bother prog fans. If it wasn't for the rather stale Gentle Giant style exercises in songs such asMajestic Dance and Magician this album would deserve nothing less then masterpiece standing from me.

Romantic Warrior is not only a commercially successful jazz-rock classic but simply a recommended entry point for newcomers to fusion, specifically for fans of Action-Prog like ELP, Dream Theater, Yes and Gentle Giant.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is the album that turned me from being a casual fusion fan into a complete fusion maniac. And after thirty-five years, it still remains as one of my all-time favorite fusion albums.

Four of the six songs, Medieval Overture, Majestic Dance, The Magician and Dual Of The Jester And The Tyrant stand out as amazing combinations of jazz/rock fusion and tight symphonic prog. Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola show that they could keep up, and perhaps surpass, the best of the seventies giants. It still amazes me how fast these guys could play such complex music.

The other two songs, Sorceress and The Romantic Warrior, while played in a more traditional fusion style, are still fine pieces.

It's just a shame that after this masterpiece, Return To Forever broke apart, recording one lesser studio album, and a somewhat disappointing live set.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars An incredibly seminal album in my formative musical education, the four virtuosi involved in this album, all at the top of their game both technically and creatively, all giving stunning performances throughout. It still stuns me that Al was only 17 or so when he made this album with, by now, seasoned veterans Chick, Stanley and Lenny. It also stupifies me that drummer Lenny White has received so little due over the years. To my ears, he is incredible! He is so smooth, so "melodic"--if a drummer can be said to be so (which is probably why his solo projects and self-penned compositions are so likable/memorable.) Rather than go into detailed song-by-song review as I often do, suffice it to say that the music and performances here are stellar. Though the opener, Chick's "Medieval Overture" (5:14), doesn't capture much of a medieval vibe to me (no nods to medieval music that I can hear), it is no less impressive (8/10). The next offering, the funky Lenny White composition, 2. "Sorceress" (7:34) has some real ear candy in spacious, melody slapping rhythm roles and smooth, emotional soli. Chick's piano solo is vintage Chick--just awesome! Al throw's his weight around, Lenny's percussion play off the drums is breathtaking, and Stanley! Well, Stanley just kind of sneaks in his mastery on this one. (9/10) Then comes 3. "The Romantic Warrior" (10:52), an all-acoustic affair that just happens to be one of my all-time favorite fusion songs. (10/10) 4. "Magestic Dance" (5:01) opens like it's going to be a Led Zeppelin rock'n roll song--which might be explained by the fact that it's a Di Meola composition. The second section--a bit of circus cheese, and the weak repetitious keyboard bass line make this not quite up to par with the rest of the album's songs. (7/10) But then comes Stanley's tune, 5."The Magician" (5:29) which is pure prog heaven--ushering in stunning performances (if sometimes subdued and quirky) by all four performers--including a piccolo bass harmonics duet with a "micro" mini Moog piccolo! (9/10) The incredibly well-produced album closes with it's most dynamic and in-your-face tune in the form of an eleven minute epic, 6. "The Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" (11:26) There are soli by each and every one of the artists on this one that are without doubt hailed in Prog Heaven in the "How is this humanly possible?" sound room. One of the most incredible songs you are likely to ever hear. (10/10)

All in all, I know the numbers don't quite add up to masterpiece status (88.33), but this is. It just is. Take my word for it.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 1970s was a strange and unsettled time. A brutal war in Southeast Asia had ended as badly for the United States as it had begun, American cities were generally in decay and though 1976 was the nation's 200th birthday, it felt more like an untimely pun. In popular culture Evel Knievel was thrilling them on bikes never meant to jump such distances, David Carradine wooed the fledgling New Age culture every week on Kung Fu, a little underground dance scene called Disco was getting too big for its own good, KISS got their footprints in Hollywood, both The Waltons and The Partridge Family were huge and everyone had done, was doing, or would do cocaine at least once. It was as if the country yearned for something better but didn't know how to get it.

But the music, that was special. Britain may have owned the previous decade but by 1970, America had more than its share of great stuff in everyone from Santana and CSN to Blood,Sweat&Tears to a young Eddie Van Halen honing his skills at L.A. parties. And the fusion of jazz and rock had come of age in a big way. Though it went gold and was a zenith of modern rock fusion, Romantic Warrior was this version of RtF's last release and just as a hero who dies young, it was probably better not to see such an important group slowly wither away (especially due to L. Ron Hubbard). Some feel this was Chick Corea's "prog rock album" and though fair, that's a misleading label. There is little to remind of Genesis or Yes or King Crimson. It was, however, a musical explosion, and may have signaled both the commercial peak of the Fusion movement and the swan song of its golden age. Which is to say it's a fierce record. The lambent flicker of Corea's keys tap out 'Medieval Overture' counterpointed by the band, Clarke, White and DiMeola unified like a single being and tight as a warlock's butthole. The cut absolutely destroys and is entirely progressive as it breaks into a sci-fi send up, Stanley Clarke's childlike taunts, Lenny White a demon on his set, just on fire-- and 'Sorceress' shimmies down a city street past the lowriders and crap games with funk, Latin dance, all brought along by Corea's crisp piano lead.

The title gradually unfolds, hinting at what's to come. Our theme is soon revealed accented with the deep resonance of a bow to an acoustic bass. Al DiMeola shines on his nylon-string setting the tone for his own solo project that year and the track beautifully shifts to a rush of Latin jazz, deconstructing itself and ending before things get tedious. 'Majestic Dance' is much better than its dated opening and becomes an intricate little number with many fine changes, Corea's playful side and Clarke's unmistakable fingerprints. But it was 'The Magician' that made the second side of the LP so rewarding. After all, one had to listen well into the last half to hear this adorable bit of progressive jazzrock, and felt that much more pleased at having bought it. More grand science fiction themeology closes the show for very decent 'Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant'.

This is a case where though at moments flawed, we have a release so friggin good, so well done and significant, that it warrants five stars. God forbid anything ever be perfect.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Though most fusion fans swear by this album, personally it took a while to grow on me. It isn't a revolutionary and ground-breaking inspirational piece so much as it's the clumination of the musical development of the continuation of the classic-era Return to Forever lineup; indeed, Chick Corea would famously disband the lineup and reform Return to Forever as a much less successful music for the followup Musicmagic, feeling that the electric fusion sound of the Al di Meola years had largely run its course.

Perhaps the medieval theme is what threw me, because whilst an interesting twist the unit don't work that much in the way of medieval material into their sound (though there's some ELP-esque incorporations of classical music influences here and there, especially on Corea's keyboards). Overall, it's grown and grown on me and now I see it as the peak of Return To Forever's accomplishments - though I still think it's best appreciated once the previous albums are digested, to give the context of the band's musical development to this point.

Review by Negoba
5 stars Wonderful Prog-Fusion Hybrid

There was a time that ROMANTIC WARRIOR topped PA's JF charts but it has slipped considerably over the last year or so. Reading through the reviews, I began to understand the mixed feelings but also was finally able to focus my own opinions on this album. ROMANTIC WARRIOR is not like most of the other fusion albums I know and love. It is much more composed, a bit more listener friendly. By 1976, fusion was not yet played out but was needing to evolve. Some bands were getting more complex and others moving toward a more smooth jazz feel. Here, the classic RTF lineup pulls in elements from prog a la Genesis, and create an album that satisfies my symphonic side that loves Tony Banks as much or more than my inner Coltrane lover. One would think this would delight fans on this site, but as seen in other reviews, more dedicated fusion fans aren't always convinced.

But I am. I love complex composed lines, and this album has some great intertwining leads between Chick Corea's keys, Al DiMeola's guitar, and sometimes Stanley Clark's bass. "Majestic Dance" has interplay that to me even foreshadows some of Dream Theater's instrumental interplay between Pertucci and Jordan Rudess or Derek Sherinian. There are some spacy sections as in "The Magician." There are even some slightly medieval melodic snippets a la Gryphon. DiMeola certainly gets a chance to burn on this disc, showcasing both his acoustic and electric chops.

The compositions are all interesting, and there is a nice variety of sounds that still cohere. There are funky elements, quirky humours sections, plenty of virtuosity, a little psychedelia that accompanies the usual JR/F sound. What I especially like about this album is the coherence of the group. All four of the musicians are phenomenal, but they balance very nicely. Stanley Clarke manages to keep the bass prominent in the mix without getting cheesy or overbearing. DiMeola confines his firebreathing to when it fits the tune. Corea draws on a wide variety of tones and keeps the energy strong. White holds it all together with plenty of syncopation and groove.

While jazz in general including fusion is based in improvisation, some of my favorite passages from fusion artists are not their solos but their compositions. ROMANTIC WARRIOR, to my ear, is one of the best in this regard. (Pat Metheny's THE WAY UP is a modern example.) Both of those albums were not even typical for their specific artists. Frankly, I wish there was more of this style available. But as it is, I consider this album essential as a prototype for composed fusion.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars As Chick Corea's premier fusion act Return to Forever became more of a band than a solo project, their virtuosity and progressive elements continued to increase. Some may argue that this lessened the charm and beauty of their work, but I strongly beg to differ. Perhaps it's the prog nerd in me projecting, but the way the group could still maintain their composing prowess while strengthening their ensemble interplay was really gripping. Corea was still clearly at the helm, but he brought in the best players to flesh out his vision as a jazz fusion luminary. The true magic of the collective's work was in how these musicians could work off each other and make something both emotionally resonant and musically abstruse. Thus, Romantic Warrior plays out as a wonderful - if slightly flawed - melding of incredible technical feats and inner-band chemistry.

The song titles really give away the kind of vibe you get with this record, what with the imagery of warriors, sorceresses, and jesters that permeate the tracklisting. The album is entirely instrumental as you'd expect, but the music does a perfectly good job of communicating the subject matter without the worry of intrusive lyrics getting in the way. "Medieval Overture" immediately sets the tone with buoyant keyboards providing texture over some rock guitar and intricate drumming patterns; Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White are perfectly locked in to support the scene that Corea's laying out before us. Such an approach is the basis for most of the record, as it bleeds into everything from the laid-back funk of "Sorceress," to the beautiful acoustic explorations of the title track, to the quirky yet lightning-fast musicianship of "The Magician." This isn't to say that Corea is the only one given prominent solo time, as everyone gets plenty of time to shine; however, he's the one who makes the pieces as bewitching and personality-driven as they are.

With that said, Romantic Warrior wouldn't be what it is if not anchored by some of the most legendary musicians of the 70s fusion era of jazz. What's really neat about the album is that every member gets his own respective piece credited to him, and you can really tell whose stamp is on which song. Corea has the two bookending tracks as well as the expansive title track, while White uses "Sorceress" to flex his drumming chops with a fun off-kilter take on classic funk rhythms. Di Meola penned "Majestic Dance," a more straightforward rock piece with plenty of wailing guitar solos throughout, while Clarke absolutely tears apart his bass on the exceedingly technical "The Magician." And as stated before, the personality is never lost in any of these tunes. For instance, despite how complex and intricate "The Magician" is, it somehow manages to work in some beautifully pastoral moments led by Corea's whimsical keyboard work, as well as a triumphant melody you'd swear was ripped straight out of a Final Fantasy victory theme (if that franchise didn't start a decade later, that is).

The only moments of weakness in Romantic Warrior lie in the sections in which the technical parts are perhaps a bit too intrusive. "Majestic Dance" is the biggest culprit here; you'll be enjoying Di Meola's fantastic guitar work, only to be taken out of the moment when Corea's irritating clavinet parts ruin the flow. This doesn't derail the entire tune, but it definitely threatens to. "The Magician," for all the praise I've given it, could have also benefited from a bit more focus. The song plays out more like a series of separate fragments than a fully-realized piece; it's just that those individual sections are great enough to make up for it. As a result, though, Corea's songs are definitely the highlights here. The title track is the clear centerpiece of the entire album, as every member gets a perfect chance to shine with their respective instruments. The relaxing atmosphere just makes the experience even more alluring, something that I can also extend to the epic final track "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant." Every time the song gets a little too tense, that smooth synth motif always brings it all back together and you feel centered once again with the music.

It's hard to determine whether Romantic Warrior is Return to Forever's best album - they have a stellar catalogue, after all - but at the very least, it's certainly one of them. The fact that such a technically demanding record didn't get derailed by overt self-indulgence is quite impressive, and the beauty and charm of the pieces is preserved wonderfully as a result. Chick Corea has a lot to be proud of here and with Return to Forever in general (as well as solo work, collaborations, Elektric Band, etc. etc.), both as a composer and an phenomenal musician. And while he may not be with us anymore, we can at least look back at the amazing body of work he's left behind and marvel at how we got such a brilliant musical mind in this lifetime.

R.I.P. Chick Corea (June 12, 1941 ? February 9, 2021)

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars In 2006 I bought Romantic Warrior at a Eugene, Oregon St. Vincent de Paul. This very same place I surprisingly got a copy of Barclay James Harvest's Gone to Earth (American MCA pressing with die cut and original inner sleeve) and Greenslade's Time and Tide (U.S. Mercury label copy). When I brought it home I was a bit dismissive of the album. I was still in my "generally dismissive of fusion" mindset, having heard Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Inner Mountain Flame several years before and though it was just boring wankfest ("look how fast we can play"). My attitude towards that album really changed, the Inner Mountain Flame, as well as Birds of Fire are amazing, and Visions of the Emerald Beyond is by far the best album with the second lineup (I don't find Inner Worlds bad, but I do have to warn you the album gets a bad reputation because four songs feature vocals, and while I don't have too much problems with that, many do, as Mahavishnu Orchestra works best as an instrumental outfit).

As with my attitude change towards Mahavishnu Orchestra, so my attitude has changed with Romantic Warrior (I hadn't heard the other RTF albums yet). The lineup here included Chick Corea (naturally), Lenny White, Al DiMeola, and Stanley Clarke. Here they take on some very complex and elaborate fusion that leans more towards prog rock at times. It seems that Chick Corea was trying for a fusion answer of Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson. The medieval influence of this album seem a bit overexaggerated. We're not exactly talking Gryphon here, or even Jethro Tull for that matter. The cover certainly has that medieval motif, and song titles definitely have that medieval thing going on, but to my ears it sounds like yer typical mid '70s fusion/prog thang. There's a couple passages on this album that sounded a bit fuzak-y, especially a couple of the piano passages and Stanley Clarke's bass playing, but those don't last long. I particularly enjoy the synths Chick Corea uses here.

Rock critic Robert Christgau hated this album. He gave it a D+ and called it "The Emerson, Lake & Palmer of jazz rock". Remember, he never liked ELP, so obviously he hardly meant that as a compliment. Progheads might agree on the "ELP of jazz rock" thing, but in a positive light.

It's hard to believe how popular this album is in fusion circles, given the challenging and complex nature of this album. Corea & Co. was obviously trying for a prog rock album, and the prog leanings obviously didn't bother record buyers at the time. I'm not entirely sure I'd give it a five star rating, given it took me many years to warm up to it, but definitely worth it.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Progressive fantasy jazz rock

Often considered as RETURN TO FOREVER's best album, "Romantic Warrior" is more avant-garde and less funky than the band's previous efforts. Featuring a more important usage of electronic keyboards and rocking guitars, the musicians also incorporated symphonic/heavy prog elements from bands such as YES or KING CRIMSON in their music. Combined to the strange and charming synthesizers of Chick Corea, the result is quite original and inspired, while remaining accessible. The question is: what's the relation with the title?

"Medieval Overture" (by Chick Corea) is in fact not really medieval. Instead, this composition is a rather retro-futuristic spacey jazz/rock with various keyboards in the style of YES. Very nice, and sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Lenny White's "Sorceress" is the funkiest track of the record. Opening with a calm and groovy bass line, it contains a few guitar and keyboards interventions with a slight flavour of McCoy Tyner. In contrast, the title track (by Chick Corea) is fully acoustic. Majestic and delightful, however a bit too long.

Despite its title, the cool "Majestic Dance" is not very dancing but rather the rock-iest passage of the disc with its distorted guitars. This is logic when you know this was composed by Al Di Meola. Stanley Clarke's "The Magician" is the most complex composition, and also my least favorite track. Quite odd and changing, it incorporates fun small melodies. Ironically this song is the only one truly related to the album thematic, as it sounds a little medieval by moments. Once again by Chick Corea, "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" is the longest composition. Contrarily to the previous song, the music is more accessible and built around a nice melancholic melody as a main theme, with a few surprises inside...

Only after the listen can you understand the album title. "Romantic Warrior" do not naively refer to love or martial metal songs. Instead, it should rather been taken as an oxymoron that corresponds to the musical style: both calm and turbulent, light and ferocious. Everything is a matter of contrast. Unusual, original and with an unique sound, this 1976 opus is one of the proggiest and greatest achievements of its genre.

Very recommended to jazz rock / fusion aficionados or hard rock fans wanting to discover the style!

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When you have some of the biggest names in 70's fusion on your team, how can you lose? When it comes to jazz fusion, there are few superstar lineups more formidable than Latin shredder Al Di Meola, electric jazz pioneer Chick Corea, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Although the talent on display here is a smorgasbord for jazz cats to ogle over, there's certainly more to "Romantic Warrior" than just its name-dropping creds.

What we have here is one of the finest marriages of jazz fusion and progressive rock that's been set to record. While the medieval influences alluded to by other reviewers may be a tad overstated, there's no denying that there's a symphonic flair to this record that you won't find on any of the dime-a-dozen instrumental fusion albums that got popped out like rabbits between 1975 and 1980. "Romantic Warrior" is something of a mixed bag. Pure (and expertly done) fusion numbers like "The Sorceress" and the acoustic title track act as expansive vehicles for passionate and inspired soloing. More rock-oriented tracks like "Majestic Dance" pack in a punch that you just don't find in most jazz, and the complex and spacey "The Magician" is in a league all its own in the Return To Forever canon. In all, there's a great diversity to this record that should appease fans of Miles Davis and Gentle Giant alike.

Of course, what really sells this album for me is the excitement that it conveys. As cliche as the term is in jazz reviews, this whole album is electric, through and through. From the frantic rhythmic workouts of the opening track, you know that the next 45 minutes are going to be a complete thrill ride. The album subdues (but never tires) a little with "The Sorceress" and "The Romantic Warrior", but from there it builds up into a non-stop crescendo of intensity that doesn't back down until the crashing finale of "Duel of the Jester and The Tyrant". If there was any one fusion record that deserved to be considered a "masterpiece of progressive rock music", this would be the one. This is fusion for prog fans, and prog for fusion fans, and an album that excels at both. One of the true jazz rock masterpieces that every fan of 70's fusion needs to check out. 5 stars.

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Report this review (#2420046) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, July 16, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the best releases of RTF, with a formation I like the most : Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al Di Meola. This is the sixth album of RTF (and 3rd and last of this band formation), released in 1976. All of the 6 tracks are instrumental, three of them were written by Chick Core ... (read more)

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5 stars The jazz fusion scene features some of the most skilled musicians that are unmatched by most. One of the more notable examples is that of Return to Forever, a band fronted by piano virtuoso Chick Corea. Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior features some of the most wonderful sounding pieces I' ... (read more)

Report this review (#1595099) | Posted by aglasshouse | Friday, August 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While their past few albums had progressive aspects to them, Romantic Warrior takes it to a new level with a more refined sound. Jazz elements are still strong, and add an easygoing, yet harsh feel. The musicianship is wild, but there isn't as much noodling as you would expect (but there still is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#771401) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Romantic Warrior hits you from the very beginning by futuristic and the same time medieval bravoure. The album is the best what fusion music can offer you. The music is written by all four geniouses playing here: Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. Most of the music comes of co ... (read more)

Report this review (#512747) | Posted by justaguy | Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#440506) | Posted by Alitare | Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#354700) | Posted by trinidadx13 | Thursday, December 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars All throughout Romantic Warrior, one will find very engaging, interesting, and often downright cool parts- the bass riff that opens The Sorceress, about 1:12 into Medieval Overture, and the beginning part of Majestic Dance. However, the problem is that, while they are capable of making very good ... (read more)

Report this review (#277689) | Posted by Neurotarkus | Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Romantic Warrior, Return To Forever's sixth album, in my mind has just got to be one of the most beautifully crafted works of fusion available to the music lovers. Rock, jazz, funk, flamenco and classical overtones mingle wonderfully together from the first to final note, with little sprinklin ... (read more)

Report this review (#258539) | Posted by FusionKing | Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my introduction to Jazz Rock/Fusion prog or whatever you may call it. And I have to say, I was not disappointed. The album cover is what allured me in the first place and I just decided to get me a copy. Awesome guitar work by the master Al di Meola and wonderful musicianship from Chick, Le ... (read more)

Report this review (#251988) | Posted by Lark the Starless | Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.5 stars. This is what Jazz Rock Fusion should be! Bring 4 great musicians together and let them have some fun. I can replay the album 3 times in a row and not get bored. The guitar playing from Al Di Meola is brilliant in places. Chick Corea adds interesting keyboards throughout, and ... (read more)

Report this review (#227976) | Posted by digdug | Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Take 4 "out of this world" musicians and provide them with all the self expression freedom and research prog genre can give; add of course a dose of good taste and inspiration; result : "Romantic Warrior". This record is a landmark for many reasons. 1st : Not only Germans (Tangerine Dre ... (read more)

Report this review (#214162) | Posted by Prog_Veteran | Thursday, May 7, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars While this is a very good album from a very talented band that includes Stanley Clarke, one of my bass idols, it moves between cheesiness and brilliance too many times. There are moments on this album that are absolutely brilliant, but either Corea or Meola will throw in cheesy tones that compl ... (read more)

Report this review (#205579) | Posted by evantate09 | Friday, March 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Return To Forever - Romantic worrior has changed my taste of listening to music from Prog.Rock to Jazz Rock/Fusion. I heard this album in November, 2008 by searching the best albums on Prog Archives and i finally found it. First time when i heard this album, it just seemed a normal album to me b ... (read more)

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5 stars I used to think for a long time that a huge part of this album was just unnecessary noodling, as if the musicians were trying to play fast and complex just for the sake of it, and that was why I couldn't hold my attention to this album. It bored the hell out of me sometimes. So I gave it another ... (read more)

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Report this review (#189555) | Posted by MrEdifus | Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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