Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Return to Forever - 1974 - 1975 [2008] "Where Have I known You Before" - "No Mystery"

2008 digitally remastered two CD set featuring a pair of albums from Jazz pianist Chick Corea and his Fusion band Return to Forever featuring Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al di Meola. Where Have I Known You Before sas originally released in 1974 followed one year later by No Mystery.

Anyone who is into jazz, jazz/fusion, I am sure remembers these as individual records. I loved them both, but I like Chick Corea & Return To Forever. For me, I think this was some of their finer material. You can get it from Amazon as both original records on disc,so for me I was replacing 2 old LP's. I already knew what I was getting. It is great to have it on cd. Some of the material for the recent comeback on the live disc is also available from Amazon. I certainly give this 5 stars, I love both of these as individual lp's so replacing on cd especially these 2 on was disc, is a good value, & great music.

This release is far superior than the 1980's Polydor releases. There is more DETAIL, instrument seperation, fullness and finally...more BOTTOM. Yes, you can finally hear Lenny's kick drum and his toms have weight, Stanley's basses and Chick's bass synth/low-end synth playing. Also, you can hear Di Meola's comping and Chick's layers of keys/synths. This is like going from VHS to Blu-Ray and I know this music-I have been listening to these (over and over and...) since the earlier 80's on vinyl, then got the horrible CD issues around 1990 and now this.

This 2cd collection is absolutely brilliant, the first cd Where Have I Known You Before is a real electric treat with guitarist Al Dimeola & keyboardist Chic Corea trading riffs back & forth throughout the entire cd especially on tracks like Vulcan Worlds, Beyond The Seventh Galaxy & most notable Earth Juice but the most extravagant song is Song To The Pharoah Kings which really shows off the genius of Chic Corea on keyboards, also noted is the great rhythm section of Stanley Clarke & Lenny White. The 2nd cd No Mystery is a real funk fest with tracks like Dayride, Jungle Waterfall, Flight Of The Newborn & Sofistifunk. Al Dimeola trades riffs with bassist Stanley Clarke on so many occasions it's hard to keep track of, these fusionistic geniuses just pump up the jams on both of these cds with effortless ease. It's hard to believe they both were released in 1974 & 1975 because they are so far ahead of they're time respectively. It's a no brainier that these both stand the test of time & are classics in the jazz fusion world for this very reason they deserve a 5 star review.

1974 "Where Have I Known You Before"

Where Have I Known You Before is the fourth album by jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, the second since leader Chick Corea had "revamped" the line-up and moved towards electric instrumentation, playing jazz fusion with clear influences from progressive rock.
This is one of those albums that just seems to have been laying there forever, to be discovered by a group of talented musicians. It almost flows from the musicians on it own accord; they seem as surprised and inspired in playing as we are listening.
The whole band - Chick, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clark, Lenny White - are phenoms. Their skill is stratospheric. To me, as a drummer, Lenny's performance here is magical.
Remember, this album came out in the same period as John McLaughlin's most famous works - BIRDS OF FIRE and INNER MOUNTING FLAME - so these guys were feeding off of each other (much like Paul McCartney and Brian Williams were).
This album is one of the Fusion pioneer albums. The genre didn't exist before RTF and McLaughlin. It quickly sunk under its own weight with all the copycat bands, while the founding fathers moved on to better things.
I saw RTF on tour for this album; third row front; right in front of Lenny (I could see his kick drum foot working - he had on these platform shoes, playing heel-down). It was a fabulous show, even better than the album (I remember Stanley turning to Lenny and giving him the "easy, dude" hand sign: Lenny was just a monster, in his own world!).
If you buy only ONE Corea album, or even only ONE Fusion album, this is the one!

How can I describe a record that changed my life forever? I was sitting in a friend's car in Buffalo while he was getting something in the dorm. Unbeknownst to me his radio was tuned to a French station from Quebec. The final track of this record, "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" came on and I had never heard anything like it. "Blown away" hardly describes the effect. At the end I prepared to memorize the artist and record, and the DJ announced it - in French! I couldn't even figure out which part of the announcement was the artist's name.
It took me two years to figure out that that song was on this album. In the intervening 30 years I've listened to the record over and over again and I never tire of it. This is the record that turned me away from rock and into the more sophisticated world of jazz forever. "Pharaoh Kings" is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant pieces of music written, ever.
On a scale of 1 to 5, this one is 100.

 Track listing
  1. "Vulcan Worlds" (Clarke) – 7:51
  2. "Where Have I Loved You Before" (Corea) – 1:02
  3. "The Shadow of Lo" (White) – 7:32
  4. "Where Have I Danced with You Before" (Corea) – 1:14
  5. "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy" (Corea) – 3:13
  6. "Earth Juice" (Corea, Clarke, White, Di Meola) – 3:46
  7. "Where Have I Known You Before" (Corea) – 2:20
  8. "Song to the Pharoah Kings" (Corea) – 14:21

1975 "No Mystery" 

No Mystery (1975) is the fifth studio album by jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever.
All members of the group contributed compositions to this album. Side A contains heavily funk-influenced material composed by each member of the group, whereas Side B is filled by Chick Corea compositions. Chick Corea won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Individual or Group Grammy Award in 1975 for this album.[4] "Flight of the Newborn" is Di Meola's first recorded composition. Di Meola's solos are an early example of shredding.
Stanley Clarke would later re-record "Dayride" with background vocals for his solo album, Modern Man, released in 1978. Likewise, Al Di Meola re-recorded a longer version of "No Mystery" for his solo album World Sinfonia in 1991.

This album along with RTF Romantic Warrior is among the best of 70's fusion, all the players are incredible,Chick Corea on keyboard, Al Dimeola on guitar, Stanley Clarke on bass and Lenny White on drums, it doesn't get much better than this. I love the sound of Chick's Fender Rhodes electric piano, it sounds like a powerful percussive bells and the sounds he get from the ARP and MOOG synthesizers are classic and of course his piano playing is incredible, the piano intro to Excerpt f.t.f.m.o.heavy metal is amazing, like a fusion of classic,ragtime and rock. This CD is full of great compositions, Stanley Clarke's Dayride is one of his better pieces a mix of funk,latin and jazz, Corea's No Mystery is so beautiful and the Spanish flavored Celebration Suite is such fun to listen to and Lenny White's drum solo intro to the suite is great.
All the pieces on this album are an example of a high level of virtuoso playing, the guys were young, full of fire and technique which of course they wanted to show off, but that's not all they had to offer there is a lot of thoughtfull passion going on, well crafted compositions and lively enthusiasm in the playing that is so much fun to listen to. The first fusion album I listened to was Dimeola's Casino and I fell in love with this music so I naturally looked for other albums with him and this was it, and the other three guys impressed me just as much, I just wish they had stayed together longer than they did, still most of the solo albums they did are great too.

Wow. This is a timeless recording by Return To Forever.
The acoustic and electric guitar work of Al Di Meola (only 21 years of age when this classic was released) sends chills up my spine each time I hear it. Chick Corea, the consummate musician, is once again virtuous on the synthesizer, organ, and piano. The drums of Lenny White are tight, and the bass work of Stanley Clarke is immensely complex, yet very sonorous.
This disc is a gem. To give it any less than a five-star rating is criminal. It's good to know music like this exists at an affordable price, especially in our world of hackneyed, superficial pop-music. With each listen of "No Mystery," a new level of music appreciation is procured.
Brilliant stuff. 

 Track listing
  1. "Dayride" (Clarke) – 3:25
  2. "Jungle Waterfall" (Corea, Clarke) – 3:03
  3. "Flight of the Newborn" (Di Meola) – 7:23
  4. "Sofistifunk" (White) – 3:51
  5. "Excerpt from the First Movement of Heavy Metal" (Corea, Clarke, White, Di Meola) – 2:45
  6. "No Mystery" (Corea) – 6:10
  7. "Interplay" (Corea, Clarke) – 2:15
  8. "Celebration Suite part I" (Corea) – 8:27
  9. "Celebration Suite part II" (Corea) – 5:32



  2. Thanks!!! My favorite are the Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy :)

  3. Thank You. This stuff was the best!