RETURN TO FOREVER — Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy

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RETURN TO FOREVER - Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy cover
4.16 | 31 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1973

Filed under Fusion
By RETURN TO FOREVER

Tracklist

A1 Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy 3:25
A2 After The Cosmic Rain 8:33
A3 Captain Senor Mouse 8:56
B1 Theme To The Mothership 8:22
B2a Space Circus (Part I) 1:28
B2b Space Circus (Part II) 4:08
B3 The Game Maker 6:49

Total Time: 42:16

Line-up/Musicians

Chick Corea – electric piano, acoustic piano, organ, harpsichord, gongs
Stanley Clarke – electric bass, bell tree
Lenny White – drums, percussion
Bill Connors – electric guitar, acoustic guitar

About this release

Polydor – PD 5536 (US)

Recorded at The Record Plant, August 1973

Thanks to Abraxas, snobb for the updates

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RETURN TO FOREVER HYMN OF THE SEVENTH GALAXY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Abraxas
By 1973, Return to Forever finally hired a guitarist and got rid of the saxophone and vocals, so this is what Chick calls Return to Forever's first "electric" album. After two pleasant latin jazz albums, Chick & Co decided to experiment with the surgence of this new thing called "fusion" that bands like Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra were already doing (and what British jazzers, Nucleus and Soft Machine, were doing even a bit earlier).

The band tried their best to do their own kind of jazz rock, with all the potential that the line-up had to offer. The result was brilliant in terms of musicianship, the four members were technically capable of making intense jazz rock, however that's also a flaw, sometimes the band (as they would later do in Romantic Warrior) focuses too much in their instruments rather in the composition. Also have in mind, that it's not Al Di Meola who is on guitar, it's Bill Connors, a highly capable jazz guitarist, but unfortunately the production of the album didn't help him much, leaving a bit to desire from him. My last complaint would be that Chick Corea is missing his set of synths on his keyboard deck, making much of the record sound pretty samey at first listens, due to the monotonic sound of organ and electric piano solely (although the playing of the Rhodes here is astonishing).

It's a pitty though, I've seen live shows from the tour of this album (through YouTube) and the music sounds better because Chick had already added the synths to the band's music, plus the muddy production is not present. That shows me that I actually see no major flaws in these technical but entertaining compositions, if not in the sound of the overall record, its production is not really the best.

Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy is definitely a big step over Light at as Feather, and while sounding different and not as mature as the Meola records, it is up there with those in terms of musical ability.

A classic jazz rock album that has the unfortunate flaw of having a muddy production and monotonic sound (due to the former), and probably sometimes the focus on the technical playing. The upcoming 2011 tour of the band, which will have the entire Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy as the set-list (if I'm not mistaken), is something that nobody should miss.

Members reviews

Miler72
To me, I really felt this is the first real Return to Forever album. Light as a Feather still found the band exploring Brazilian/Bossa Nova stuff (helps that Flora Purim was on the album), although it's a highly regarded album, but it's with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy that they really take off. No more Bossa Nova, or even vocals, for that matter, here's you get Chick Corea (naturally), bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Bill Connors, and drummer Lenny White. This time they go right to the jugular, unbridled breakneck fast playing from all around, it's as if Corea was blown away by what Mahavishnu Orchestra was doing and felt they needed to do something just like it (but without violin). Bill Connors' guitar playing has a rather distinct rock style, which you won't mistake for John McLaughlin. In fact the reason for Bill Connors departure was apparently the music was too similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra for his liking (he probably wanted something a bit more original). Regardless, this is totally recommended if you love Mahavishnu, that similar breakneck fast playing from everyone involved. Most of the music follows a similar pattern, but "Captain Senor Mouse" has a rather catch melody to goes with the extended jamming and "Space Circus (Part II)" is quite funky. If you don't mind the obvious Mahavhisnu Orchestra feel to it, I really highly recommend this!
EatThatPhonebook
7/10

"Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy" is one of the most important albums for Chick Corea and Return To Forever's career.

Chick Corea is one of the most well known figures in Jazz Fusion, as well as one Jazz greatest keyboardists. After the well acclaimed debut album “Return To Forever”, which gave the name to the band, and the almost as seminal “Light As a Feather”, “Hymn To the Seventh Galaxy” comes to some as a somewhat disappointing release. It isn’t the usual third album that suddenly becomes the magnum opus of the band, but it definitely gives some new elements to Return To Forever’s music that will persist during their whole career ahead of them.

On “Hymn to The Seventh Galaxy”, Return to Forever go towards a direction more faithful and coherent to the term Jazz Fusion, abandoning all vocal tracks. However, like many bands of that day, they throw in their music, as they did before, various influences, from Funk, to Rock, to Latin music, to Psychedelic and Space Rock. The rhythms are always strong and constantly busy, the guitars and bass somewhat abrasive and fuzzy, and Corea’s swelling electric piano gives to the music an undeniable touch of uniqueness, dragging all the other instruments to follow him. The best melodies as a matter of fact are created out of the Corea’s fingers, more than anybody else’s.

“Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy”’s heavy tone is always a delight to listen to, the band’s various pathways they take in the course of a song is always fascinating. This album has some very high points, some however can’t help to fall behind the shadow of the first few, marvelous tracks. For being more precise, the first side of the LP is close to being masterful, while the second side is more disappointing and not exactly up to the task of maintaining such high levels.

After the self title intro to the album, the two masterpieces of the LP come in, Stanley Clarke’s song “After The Cosmic Rain” and the even more intriguing “Captain Senor Mouse”, possibly the best song of the album. Both of these songs are long but absolutely worth the listen. The second side, as mentioned, does not contain such high quality tracks, however, the overall resultant still maintains a solid amount of credibility, especially thanks to tracks like the two parts of “Space Circus” and even the final track “The Game Maker”, both of them overall pretty interesting and accessible.

“Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy” maybe will not go down in history as a quintessential Fusion album, but it’s one of those LPs that you can’t miss, especially if you’re a Jazz fan. On this album there is so much to learn from, and people seem to forget how important this album really is for Return To Forever and Chick Corea’s career that will follow.
Warthur
Husband and wife team Flora Purim and Airto Moreira left Return to Forever after completing the wonderful Light as a Feather, and on Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy Chick Corea adjust the band's sound accordingly, more or less removing the Latin influences brought to the table by those two performers and instead going for a more straight-ahead heavy fusion album.

The Mahavishnu Orchestra appears to be the primary influence, and whilst Bill Connors doesn't quite manage to attain the furious speeds on his guitar playing that John McLaughlin does on The Inner Mounting Flame, he certainly gives it his best, and his interplay with Chick's electric piano is a highlight of the album's sound. As noted by other reviewers, the influence of other fusion traditions such as the more jazzy end of the Canterbury spectrum creeps in here or there, but otherwise this is a fusion album firmly rooted in the tradition of Mahavishnu, Weather Report, and Miles Davis, with a sound that at points risks becoming generic but is saved by the exceptional musicianship on show.
Sean Trane
RTF’s first overhaul is a major one, and it can be seen this way: the first line-up was more of an early Weather Report, with Farrell’s sax and flute as Wayne Shorter, while the second line=up with the appearance of a fiery guitarist can be seen more of Mahavishnu Orchestra-type of group. But the shuffle goes well beyond that: Gone are Purim’s disputable vocals, while Farrell’s always delightful flute also disappeared (taking away so of the sweet evocative passages from RTF’s music), but the light bossa nova rhythms of Airto Moreira are replaced by the ex-Miles & Santana drummer Lenny White, whose drumming is much closer to Cobham (first era of MO), thus reinforcing the parallel I made just above. So with only Corea and Clarke remaining from the original line-up, the group also welcomed previously unknown Bill Connors on guitar, which showed a strong affinity to McLaughlin’s fiery style. Recorded in NY in the summer of 73, the album again developed a bird theme artwork for an aerial gatefold sleeve.

Red hot jazz-rock or torrid fusion, such is the choice… The album opens on some cosmic sounds announcing the title track, but soon the track reaches cosmic speed with White’s fluid and furious drumming, Connors’ soaring guitar and Corea’s amazing piano. The Clarke-penned Cosmic Rain is a very funky track, where Stanley doesn’t hesitate to outdo every other bassist (jazz or rock) in terms of technicity and virtuosity, even using some fuzz bass ala Canterbury, well supported by Corea’s Fender Rhodes. Captain Mouse is probably the album’s best-known track with Corea’s Rhodes ruling from its 200 MPH start to its much quieter middle section (he soars to stratospheric heights, while adding the odd organ lines over Connors’ funky guitar lines. Mothership continues the 1000°C fusion with mind-blowing soloing, even if some of Chick’s synth sounds could’ve been better advised. The two-parts Space Circus starts on an echoed Rhodes over sound effects for an intro, before the group gets mega-funky (not just Clarke, Connors is brilliant, White frankly at home and Chick his usual self. The closing Game Maker is well in line with the rest of this fiery fusion-esque torrid jazz-rock, a Rhodes-drenched slow starter that gradually builds up to reach speed of light with Connors’s incendiary guitar between Carlos, John and Larry.

Strangely enough, Connors will quit the group to pursue a solo career (a very confidential one to say the least, as he remained obscure forever) to concentrate on his acoustic playing, which might astound more than one expert since it was on electric guitar that his works were most stunning, his style hovering between McLaughlin and Larry Coryell. Nevertheless the album he recorded with RTF is simply the best of the group, even when including the previous lene-up’s two albums. HOTSG is an astounding record that inspired itself on the early MO albums such as Birds Of Fire or Inner Mounting Flame, without being a carbon copy either. Undoubtedly the best RTF album, no matter what people will say about ADM’s future admission and the famed but over=rated RW album.

Ratings only

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