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View Poll Results: How would you rate this album?
Horrible! 0 0%
Bad 0 0%
Mediocre 0 0%
Good 1 14.29%
Very Good 5 71.43%
Brilliant! 1 14.29%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-27-2010, 03:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
 
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Default Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior (1975)

This thread is for discussing the album Romantic Warrior by jazz fusion group Return to Forever. The album has been homework in the Prog & Fusion Album Club.

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Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior (1976)



This is a fusion album and arguably the most popular in the Return to Forever discography, the band led by keyboardist Chick Corea who previously played with Miles Davis. The line-up here is incredible, Chick Corea on keyboards, Al Di Meola on guitar, Stanley Clarke on bass and Lenny White on drums. Unlike a lot of the improv-flavoured fusion out there, this album is incredibly composed with complex arrangements played with amazing skill. The production is also damn near-perfect!

Supposedly, after recording it, they figured this was as good as they could get and so this was the last RTF album with that line-up, similar to why Bill Bruford left Yes after Close to the Edge.

I obviously know this one, but I'd like to get to know it even better. You should as well!
So what do you guys think?
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First off, I have to say the production here is immaculate and the musicians, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Lenny White do a perfect job. Just about everything, for example Whites drum kit or Meola's acoustic guitar, sounds perfect and they just play so damn tight. It's a world class line-up with a brilliant production and I just love how the album sounds.

The compositions I like the most are Chick Corea's, most notably the title track, The Romantic Warrior. I've had a bit of a love relationship with this song for quite a while now and I think much of it's replayability comes from several levels. First off, it's just a brilliant tune and I just think it's beautiful in parts while really engaging and driving in other parts. As a composition, it perfectly showcases the band and the bass, guitar and piano all get their moments to shine. The song is all acoustic and the playing is just jaw dropping. I just wish I could play guitar like Meola does on this song, I love it. The star of the show for me here is still Corea, though. When his piano part comes on in the later half of the song, he and the band just takes it all to a new jazz-hands inducing level.

I'm not so good at turning feelings into words, but this song is without a doubt my favourite tune put out by any of the 70s fusion greats. It's that brilliant! Here they are performing it live by the way.




The other compositions vary a bit for me although they all easily pass the good mark. I'll leave some discussion of those for later, but for now, suffice to say that while the title track is clearly brilliant, the album as a whole does not quite reach that level for me. I give it a very good which it is definetly deserving of.
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Old 12-27-2010, 01:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Although I have no plans to ever listen to it again (it's been probably a year or two since I heard it in full, as I'll usually just play a few tracks here and there), it was a good album for what it was worth. Not something I have a future with, but it's up there. Repetitious at times, but it never borders on offensiveness or tastelessness. You could even say it's kind of 'safe', but not really. Musicianship is airtight.
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Old 12-27-2010, 08:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Unlike for you guys, this was a new album to me and it took me a few plays to get into it, but, as you know, that`s often a good sign. At first the musicianship sounded almost too good, like a cold display of virtuosity. But then I really started to enjoy the precision and interplay of instruments - it`s like they`re playing some kind of musical volleyball, with the musical focus being effortlessly passed around all the time.

For me too, the title track is the standout ; the change to accoustic and the way the tempo lets up for a while is refreshing. I also liked Corea`s synth workout on the Duel track. I haven`t really worked out why, but the first two tracks felt a little weaker to me.

So this gets a "very good" from me too. Will I be playing it again ? Absolutely - it`s an album that has none of those tracks where you think, "Shall I skip this track or endure it ?" All the way through ,there is plenty of beautiful, intricate playing that holds the attention.

PS . I don`t really pick up any connection at all between the music and the cover. Any ideas ?
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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PS . I don`t really pick up any connection at all between the music and the cover. Any ideas ?
Haha, it's a bit puzzling

I think the album's wikipedia article stated that medieval imagery and themes was a fad at the time and that they may have been inspired by the likes of medieval themed Rick Wakeman, the keyboard player from the prog band Yes.

The romantic warrior imagery would seem more appropriate for a Gentle Giant album than a Return to Forever one, I think, but at least it makes for a beautiful LP cover!
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You`re right, the album cover would suit Gentle Giant better, though thinking about it there is also a really short bit of medieval-sounding music on Romantic Warrior too, in the middle of the Magician track.

Thanks for the live clip, which really shows how Romantic Warrior is put together and how fast Chick Corea could play. Looks like Stanley Clarke is the one really enjoying the song, though.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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as said before, it showcases immaculate production/instrumentation. it just isn't particularly memorable. my favorite tracks were medieval overture and romantic warrior.
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Funnily enough, I'm of the opinion that Return To Forever's self-titled debut and Light As A Feather are their strongest albums, though Romantic Warrior is certainly a damn fine album.

Fans of these guys should check out Mr. Hands by Herbie Hancock: now THAT is a jazz-fusion record!
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