RETURN TO FOREVER — Where Have I Known You Before

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RETURN TO FOREVER - Where Have I Known You Before cover
4.03 | 28 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Fusion
By RETURN TO FOREVER

Tracklist

A1 Vulcan Worlds 7:51
A2 Where Have I Loved You Before 1:01
A3 The Shadow Of Lo 7:34
A4 Where Have I Danced With You Before 1:12
A5 Beyond The Seventh Galaxy 3:11
B1 Earth Juice 3:45
B2 Where Have I Known You Before 2:09
B3 Song To The Pharoah Kings 14:21

Total Time: 41:24

Line-up/Musicians

- Stanley Clarke /Bass, Organ, Percussion [Chimes, Bell Tree]
- Lenny White /Drums, Percussion
- Al Di Meola /Guitar
- Chick Corea /Piano, Clavinet, Organ, Synthesizer, Percussion

About this release

Polydor – PD 6509 (US)

Recorded at The Record Plant, N.Y., July-August 1974

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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RETURN TO FOREVER WHERE HAVE I KNOWN YOU BEFORE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Abraxas
Where have I heard this before? Nowhere actually, this album is one of a kind for its time. This album is Return to Forever's peak compositonally speaking, while as musicians they would get more techincal on the famous, more progressive rock-oriented, Romantic Warrior.

Where Have I Known You Before is the first album with guitar-maestro Al Di Meola, while still very young(19 years-old!) thus not showing his finest capabilities, that is his ground-breaking shredding style as he would do in Romantic Warrior, he still showcases great textures and solos to the band, something Bill Connors didn't manage that well with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. Besides that addition, Chick Corea adds to his keyboard-set the synthesizers (and clavinet) Return to Forever is well-known of, and in what a classy and professional way he manages to play them for the first time! The rhythm section was getting better with each album, that is Stanley with his funky and complex bass lines and Lenny with his energetic drumming.

The album starts-off with a typical fusion composition, 'Vulcan Words', that showcases unstoppable drumming and constant bass thrilling your ears plus the new additions of Corea's synth in a splendid melodic solo, then Al with a gratifying solo and finally Stanley with his own solo.

The album continues with 'Where Have I Loved You Before', a jazz piece only meant for the one and only Chick Corea on his magical piano. Chick Corea demonstrates his most sincere and delightful piano touches, something that made him a well-respected piano(and jazz) player.

That lovely piece soon ends and what actually did was to make an excellent intro to the eternal love that 'The Shadow of Lo' always gives to me with its inital keyboard palette of notes. However that sweetness lasts for the first half of the tune. The second half is a totally different story, it returns to the speedy fusion style of the opener with the fast paced synths and rhythm, every now and then adding some really funky substance where Meola adds a brilliant guitar solo.

The album returns to the solo piano section that 'Where Have I Loved You Before' presented, this time with 'Where Have I Danced With You Before' which presents a more robust feel compared to the former but still maintaining it's delightness, like many of Corea's solo piano pieces.

The pace of the album returns to its brisk jazzy form with 'Beyond the Seventh Galaxy', while definitely short in length compared to the two previous jazz fusion songs, this one is still capable of showing their abilities as musicians and composers. It's actually a remake of 'Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy', this time with synths, showing what that album would have sounded with that addition.

Continuing with the short fusion songs comes up 'Earth Juice', this one being the only one that can be considered rather repetitive and not on par to the rest of the songs, with its constant simple drumming, Al and Chick add some few variations which are far from being either really exciting or creative, which in the end it doesn't keep the listener's attention for long. Fortunately it's short and doesn't damage much the album's flow.

Approaching to the end we got the last of Corea's solo piano tunes, 'Where Have I Known You Before', indeed the most beautiful and delicate of the three of them. This reminds me of 'Peace Piece' by Bill Evans, a piano masterpiece.

The final track is the Return to Forever epic entitled no less majestic than 'Song to the Pharoah Kings'. Opening in such a refined way with the synths and subtle organ, you really can't predict what comes next. After two minutes of elegance the track really starts to take shape, follows a semi-dissonant and chaotic passage, it then all evolves into an ingenious and polished track full of exciting and creative keyboards, a really pulverizing guitar solo in the middle, and all this within a stupendous rhythm.

Where Have I Known You Before is essentially Return to Forever's magnum opus in the creative and composition side. It features the perfect blend of the band's first two albums' Latin classiness and subtlety with Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy's jazz rock powder. This is the album that Return to Forever should be known-of, it simply has it all what made Return to Forever one of the classic Jazz Fusion bands alongside Weather Report, Hancock and Mahavishnu Orchestra back in the 70's.
Chicapah
So you're impressed with the speed rush that you get from some brands of energetic jazz and you want to expand your horizons into some accelerated jazz rock-fusion but The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a little too "out there" for your taste. Well, don't despair for this is probably what you're looking for. Four of the best virtuosos ever working as one unit, creating well-crafted instrumental songs with definite melodies, comprehensible structures and lots of ear candy. The album starts with bassist Stanley Clarke's fabulous "Vulcan Worlds." If I were to pick a single tune to introduce a neophyte to the genre, this would be it because it has everything that's great about jazz rock-fusion. Including a great build-up and climax. It sizzles. One of the distinguishing things about this particular record is that Chick Corea has interspersed some short, soothing piano interludes between cuts based on the title of the album. "Where have I Loved (Danced With and Known You) Before," all give the proceedings the feeling that there is a strong spiritual concept behind it all. (The LP included a metaphysical poem by Neville Potter printed on the back of the cover.) Drummer extraordinaire Lenny White contributes his top-notch "The Shadow of Lo" that begins with a lone Rhodes piano before everyone drops into a nice, flowing feel underneath an infectious melody. Soon they take the tempo up a notch and delve into a great funky rhythm that will put a smile on your face before it's over. It's my favorite song on the album. Corea's "Beyond the Seventh Galaxy" is a spirited, rocking tune where the band "speaks" in brief musical sentences and it's like a virtual whirlwind of notes flying in formation around your head. Short but very sweet. "Earth Juice," composed by the band as a whole, features a rolling (dare I say disco?) beat that drives non-stop all the way through. You might be tempted to get up and show off a few dance moves on this one (or not!) "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" has a substantial "Egyptian" flavor instigated by the coy synthesizer melody that segues into a quick but not frantic pace. It's a showcase piece where everyone gets to shine, starting with White who literally flies over the drumheads followed by Clarke who demonstrates his unique approach to playing bass guitar. But this is more than just blatant showboating because it never gets predictable or tiring. The tune evolves into a new melody halfway through and Al DiMeola gets his moment in the sun with a fantastic guitar solo. Corea then takes over with the Rhodes piano and the synthesizer fiercely battling it out all the way to the dramatic end.

There are no fade-outs here. Every song has a clearly defined beginning and conclusion and that's very refreshing. While I realize that jazz rock-fusion is not for everybody, I feel that if most do a little investigation they can enhance and widen their knowledge and awareness in this realm of music with rewarding results. I can think of no better place to start than with this group and this excellent album.

Members reviews

Warthur
Return to Forever sound more confident here than on the transitional Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, the band having adjusted to the shift in their sound and becoming more accomplished in their compositions. Al DiMeola joins on guitar this time around and his guitar contributions whilst comparatively low key are quite individual and help distinguish the band from being yet another Mahavishnu clone. Stanley Clarke's bass sound is both more prominent and more distinctive this time around, and Chick Corea himself has clearly been tinkering with the synthesisers, incorporating them into the band's sound with a deft touch. With funk influences being even more important than previously - Earth Juice shows this side of the band particularly well - Return To Forever once again find a distinctive fusion sound to call their own, distinct from that of their first two albums but not as generic as Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. This establishes the groundwork for the final phase of their career nicely.
Sean Trane
This is the first album with the classic line-up, since previously unknown guitarist Bill Connors gets replaced (I believe he left for a solo career, which to my knowledge never materialized) for young previously unknown Al, DiMeola, who would go on to become one of the greats of jazz guitars. Probably that you’ll never be able to assemble such an incredibly virtuoso line-up at every musician spot, with maybe only Lenny’s seat still improvable (Bruford or Cobham). So by the summer of 74, WHIKYB had been recorded and it would be another hit with the then-important JF/F crowds, the first one also forgetting the “bird theme” artwork. This album is the first (to my knowledge, anyway) where Chick Corea invests into synthesizers and his choice of synth sounds is sometimes debatable, but this issue will gradually increase some more with the next albums and widen to other JR/F KB players of the era, no doubt pushed by the new synths appearing on the market, although he (Chick) still relies on Fender Rhodes , Yamaha organ and clavinet as well..

Quickly glancing over the album’s track list, you’ll see that the title track is part of a series of three short Corea-penned piano-only interludes meant to separate more important works; What had been plainly obvious on HOTSG is now even more reinforced, especially in the opening Stanley Clarke-penned Vulcan Worlds: RTF is more of a jazz-funk group than a jazz-rock group. Indeed Clarke’s bass playing features a now-famous technique, the slapping, invented/perfected by him and it would drive him to jazz superstardom. The White-penned Shadow Of Lo, is another funky track (more in the Herbie Hancock manner), but don’t feature the excessive bass slaps, and while still cruising at 100 MPH, the track modulates more. Lenny White’s drumming is close what Cobham could’ve played on this very track. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy is obviously a return to the previous outstanding album (no synths used) and is IMHO the best track of the album.

The flipside opens on the collectively-written Earth Juice is more in the Mahavishnu Orchestra style and matches easily as highlight the previous side’s closing Beyond track. Most of you have been waiting for the 14-mins+ Song to the Pharoah King, a slow starter with Corea’s synth (although here probably some of his better choices) slowly marching on ahead, but returning to his Fender Rhodes for the torrid splendid middle section and an incandescent finale.

While I wouldn’t call this album (WHIKYB) essential, certainly not compared to the absolute masterpiece of 7th Galaxy or the crowd-adored Romantic Warrior, but it is still quite an enjoyable RTF and certainly dierves to be discovered soon. As a matter of fact, this writer not being a fan of Romantic Warrior (see that review),n this might just be the classic line=up’s best album.

Ratings only

  • danielfortin
  • Fant0mas
  • KK58
  • Lock24
  • Lynx33
  • Boris Gargamel
  • yair0103
  • praki
  • Chrysostome
  • Anster
  • joe
  • Reg
  • chuckyspell
  • Croteau
  • darkshade
  • fido73
  • Drummer
  • trinidadx13
  • darkprinceofjazz
  • rigoboy
  • POW
  • drg26
  • richby
  • b4usleep

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