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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Where Have I Known You Before/No Mystery

BGO Records BGOCD 799




Where Have I Known You Before

1. Vulcan Worlds
2. Where Have I Loved You Before
3. The Shadow Of Lo
4. Where Have I Danced With You Before
5. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy
6. Earth Juice
7. Where Have I Known You Before
8. Song To The Pharoah Kings
No Mystery

1. Dayride
2. Jungle Waterfall
3. Flight of the Newborn
4. Sofistifunk
5. Excerpt from the First Movement of Heavy Metal
6. No Mystery
7. Interplay
8. Celebration Suite Pt.I
9. Celebration Suite Pt.II
Chick Corea - Acoustic piano, electric piano, clavinet, Yamaha organ, synthesisers, percussion
Stanley Clarke - Acoustic bass, electric bass,Yamaha organ, chimes, bell-tree, synthesiser, vocals
Lenny White - Drums, percussion, marimba, congas, bongoes, marimba
Al Di Meola - Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar

Having recently reviewed an anthology of Return to Forever's work which contained about half these tracks, there may be an element of déja vu in this review, but I am happy to go on writing about the band - as it was one of the finest of the jazz-rock era.

This double CD contains two complete albums from 1974 and 1975 respectively. By this time Al Di Meola had replaced Bill Connors as the group's guitarist but the music was still heavier than it had been in the early days of Return to Forever with albums like Light as a Feather. Alyn Shipton's sleeve-note to this compilation quotes leader Chick Corea as saying "One of the reasons we added electric guitar to the line-up...was to use those timbres which were familiar to audiences from the rock area...I think we gained a lot from doing this over the four years or so of this edition of Return to Forever, although perhaps you could argue that in the process we also lost a few things in terms of subtleties and harmonies, or the more intimate side of music that I also always enjoy".

Certainly many tracks are very loud - sometimes to the extent of being piercing - and Lenny White's constant barrage on the drums becomes tiresome with repetition. His drumming is very skilful but it lacks sufficient variety. Yet there are some peaceful tracks, which may even benefit from the contrast with the surrounding heaviness.

For example, the first album has piano interludes from Corea on tracks 2, 4 and 7. Even better, the second CD's title-track, No Mystery, is a wonderfully subtle (but also engaging) piece of work, with Lenny White playing marimba instead of drums, and an overall acoustic feeling which is far away from the preceding heavy metal. And Interplay is a sensitive duet between Corea's piano and Clarke's string bass.

Both albums are also full of immediately likeable tunes, thanks to Chick Corea's enviable melodic sense. Chick composed the majority of the tracks, which gives both CDs unusual immediacy: attractive on the very first hearing. More than 30 years after they were recorded, these two albums defy the passage of time and were well worth reissuing as a "two for the price of one" package.

Tony Augarde


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