[Review] Return To Forever Featuring Chick Corea: Where Have I Known You Before (1974)

Chick’s synthetic tricks and slices of keybread pressed between meaty jams.

Kronomyth 14.0: Vulcan amazing.

There are some days–let’s call them sumdays for the sake of a lovely argument—when the whole English language is a slippery squid. Words dart, half-glimpsed, in the murky ruins of an Atlantean ampitheatre, furtive ghosts that serve roe-eyed monsters, and I move as in the amniosis* of a dream. (*Not a word, see?) Jazz does this to me.

For a gooey handful of sumdays now, I’ve built and torn down monuments to Where Have I Known You Before, all in an effort to capture something that is the very essence of elusion*. The group’s earlier effort, Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy, marked the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Artieff into space jazz/rock fusion. That album, clever as it was, could be contained in dry prose without suffering too deeply the infirmities of air. WHIKYB is more exotic, almost extraterrestrial, and quickly shrivels up when hauled onto the dry deck of my imagination for examination. At best, I can tell you what I’ve seen in those glimpses: Al DiMeola, the fleet-fingered recruit from the starmaker academy, careening around the opening corner of “Vulcan Worlds” with guns blazing; the surface eruptions of a red sun silhouette against a Lo moon of cool indigo; the alien chatter of sentient matter communicated in popping, bubbling, boiling bass notes; and Captain Chick split into two persons, two worlds, two times and still holding it together.

This album is its own monument to a meeting of galactic consequence. The future adventures of the Artieff’s crew would be more amazing still as Al DiMeola, like a certain newt, got better, but even here the young guitarist’s greenness is one more color in a technicolor trip beyond the seventh galaxy.

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Original LP Version

A1. Vulcan Worlds (Stanley Clarke) (7:51)
A2. Where Have I Loved You Before (Chick Corea) (1:01)
A3. The Shadow of Lo (Lenny White) (7:34)
A4. Where Have I Danced With You Before (Chick Corea) (1:12)
A5. Beyond The Seventh Galaxy (Chick Corea) (3:11)
B1. Earth Juice (Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke/Lenny White/Al DiMeola) (3:45)
B2. Where Have I Known You Before (Chick Corea) (2:09)
B3. Song To The Pharoah Kings (Chick Corea) (14:21)

The Players

Chick Corea (acoustic piano, electric piano, clavinet, Yamaha organ, synthesizers, percussion), Stanley Clarke (electric bass, Yamaha organ, chimes, bell tree), Al DiMeola (electric guitar, acoustic twelve-string guitar), Lenny White (drums, percussion, congas & bongos). Produced by Chick Corea; engineered by Shelly Yakus.

Did You Know?

  • Downbeat created the category of best electric bass player for its 1974 Readers Poll, I suspect simply to give Stanley Clarke his due. In the same poll from that year, Chick Corea was named the top composer.
  • Al DiMeola was “discovered” after Chick heard a tape of Al playing with Barry Miles’ quartet (which a friend of Al’s sent to Chick). At the time, DiMeola was attending Berklee, but he soon dropped out to join RTF.

The Pictures

Front cover photography by Herb Dreiwitz. Album cover concept by Neville Potter. Cover design by Petra Kinkele, Kameny Associates Inc. Group photographs by Pete Kaplan.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track in September 1974 in the US (Polydor, PD/8F-6509) and the UK (Polydor 2310 354); reached #32 on the US charts and #5 on the US Jazz charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1978 in Japan (Polydor, MPF-1173).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Polydor, 825 206-2, made in W. Germany) and Japan (Polydor, J33P 50001, also made in W. Germany).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1991 in Japan (Polydor, POCJ-1979).
  4. Re-packaged w. No Mystery on remastered 2-for-1 2CD on August 2, 2010 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD 799).
  5. Re-released on super high material compact disc on September 14, 2011 in Japan (Polydor, UCCU-9721).

1 thought on “[Review] Return To Forever Featuring Chick Corea: Where Have I Known You Before (1974)

  1. Truly this review is the ‘From Nothing’ of reviews, a miscellany of odd words scrambled into a patchwork article that reads like it was written by a man who endeavoured to consume an entire thesaurus, then found one online.

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