Sunday, September 6, 2015

Return To Forever - 1996 "Return To The 7th Galaxy"

Return To The 7th Galaxy: The Anthology (1996) is an anthology of recordings made from 1972 to 1975 by bands assembled by Chick Corea under the name "Return to Forever." The album is a compilation of tracks from the four Polygram studio albums, Light as a Feather, Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, Where Have I Known You Before and No Mystery together with four previously unreleased live tracks (including a very funky 14 minute version of "Spain").

This two-CD set is a bit of a mixed bag. It serves as a retrospective of the first two versions of Chick Corea's Return to Forever, with three selections from Light as a Feather (featuring saxophonist Joe Farrell and singer Flora Purim), three from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (which has guitarist Bill Connors), five selections from Where Have I Known You Before and four taken from No Mystery; the latter two dates match keyboardist Corea with guitarist Al DiMeola, electric bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White. However, the real reason for serious collectors to acquire this double-CD set is for the four previously unreleased selections (totaling 39 minutes), including three taken from 1973 and matching Corea and Clarke with guitarist Connors, drummer Steve Gadd and percussionist Mingo Lewis (highlighted by a 14-minute rendition of "Spain"). Whether RTF fans will want to duplicate the other performances to get these four is a bit debatable, making one wish that the "new" material had been released separately.

Return to Forever is, without a doubt, one of the founding groups of jazz-rock fusion. However, they actually fused together three genres--Latin, rock, and jazz. This stylistic amalgamation became the hallmark of the band's early years.

RETURN TO THE 7TH GALAXY: THE ANTHOLOGY includes both live and studio performances by Return to Forever, spanning the years 1972 to '75. The first two tracks, "500 Miles High" and "Captain Marvel," both have a samba feel to them. On the former, Flora Purim's Brazilian singing is both melodious and sensual, and Chick Corea's electric piano solo is blisteringly hot. Other tracks such as "Captain Senor Mouse" highlight the band's raw, unruly side. On this cut, Lenny White really kicks things into high gear, bashing with the full force of a rock drummer. Guitarist Bill Connors's distorted tone also firmly establishes the rock vibe on this tune. While this two-disc set underlines the many line-up changes in RTF's first few years, it also proves the consistency of the band's music and underscores Corea's unique, brilliant artistic vision.

Tracks Listing

Disc 1: (76:27)
1. 50 Miles High (9:07)
2. Captain Marvel (4:53)
3. Light As A Feather (10:56)
4. Spain (14:16)
5. After The Cosmic Rain (8:43)
6. Bass Folk Song (6:57)
7. Hymm Of The Seventh Galaxy (3:28)
8. Captain Senor Mouse (9:00)
9. Theme To The Mothership (8:47)

Disc 2: (71:34)
1. Vulcan Worlds (7:51)
2. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy (3:14)
3. Earth Juice (3:46)
4. The Shadow Of Lo (9:07)
5. Where Have I Known You Before (2:20)
6. Song To The Pharoah Kings (14:22)
7. Dayride (3:25)
8. No Mystery (6:09)
9. Flight Of The Newborn (7:22)
10. Celebration Suite (Part I & II) (13:58)

Total Time: 148:01


- Chick Corea / piano, organ, synthesizer, percussion, vocal
- Joe Farrell / Tenor saxophone, flute
- Bill Connors / guitar
- Al DiMeola / guitar
- Stanley Clarke / bass, synthesizer, vocal
- Mingo Lewis / percussion
- Airto Moreira / percussion, drums
- Flora Purim / percussion, vocal
- Lenny White / percussion, drums
- Steve Gadd / drums