RETURN TO FOREVER — Returns (review)

RETURN TO FOREVER — Returns album cover Live album · 2009 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
One of the most frustrating thing about RTF’s classic (historical) discography was that the only two live albums released, both dated from the last line-up, which was the group’s most forgettable moment as well. Indeed both the “red” Live album (from 77) and the “blue” Live album (released in 79; but I could have reversed the dates and colours) were definitely not giving a good idea of RTF’s stage presence, because the last line-up was simply not carrying its previous heritage correctly, even if Joe Farrell had come back………… Anyway, this flaw has been somewhat remedied to since this release is about the best (most celebrated?) RTF line-up (let’s forget about Connors’s short tenure in RTF for now); and although the performance is about 2008’s reformation and world tour, not about 70’s hidden and forgotten-about concert performance tapes, it’s still something to cherished for fans

The first disc is a fantastic trip down the main line-up’s run of four albums (let’s again forget about Connors), even if we can deplore being light of Seventh Galaxy content (whaaaat, no Captain Mouse, Space Circus or Mothership??), and the funkier No Mystery gets also a quick shrug (just the title track) , the WHIKYB gets a better treatment with the stellar Vulcan World and the elongated (almost twice the original length) Pharoah track and a touch of RW with the outstanding Sorceress, which will be better explored later. YES, the band still has it and although there were alarming news about Lenny White’s shoulder mobility, it was surely not audible on such a recording, as he’s quite up on par with his three colleagues, with ADM getting the lead since his lengthy solo sequence found its place in this disc.

The second disc is of lesser interest because it contains three of the four lengthy solo section (Chick, Stanley and Lenny) stick between two tracks from Romantic Warrior (eponymous & Jester), and it can seem somehow a bit arduous. Of the three solo sections, I preferred Clarke’s, because Chick was a bit soporific in his slot. The good news is that the RW material has lost the GG feeling it had in its studio version, but then again they had three full decades to digest that influence. Two bonus tracks come on here, the first is a pure gift and bliss: 500 Miles High is a lengthy track from the Farrell/Moreira line-up and it’s a complete joy to see that they did remember the first two albums after all.

Coupled with way toooo little attention to Seven Hymn, I will rate this with one full star taken away, however, for also including the ceremony of the BBC awards (that’s REALLY tacky and definitely NOT a bonus) and let’s face it, did we need another Romantic Warrior on the same disc as the one from the concert/tour and its reprise??? Surely a big “faute de gout”, especially with George Martin describing “RTF being between jazz and mainstream”….. Coming from the man who muzacked everything he touched in the 79’s and 80’s, you’d wonder if Chick is smoking the same Jamaican cigars than me. I certainly don't see Sir George’s description as one worth publishing, but to each his own…. I hope that this’ll not be present on the upcoming DVD.

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