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View Poll Results: Rate the SACD of Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC

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  • 10: Great Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

    9 52.94%
  • 9

    7 41.18%
  • 8

    1 5.88%
  • 7

    0 0%
  • 6

    0 0%
  • 5

    0 0%
  • 4

    0 0%
  • 3

    0 0%
  • 2

    0 0%
  • 1: Poor Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

    0 0%
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Thread: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

  1. #1
    Hi-Res Moderator rtbluray's Avatar
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    Default Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Please post your thoughts and comments on this 2017 Multichannel SACD from Dutton Vocalion of the album "Musicmagic" by Return to Forever.
    This Multichannel SACD release features the first official release of the original 1970s Quadraphonic in 40 years!




    Surround yourself with the best.

    Coming soon in 2017: "Eye in the Sky" (The Alan Parsons Project); "Black Sea" (XTC) and more from Gentle Giant!
    Already released: "Songs from the Wood" (Jethro Tull); "Misplaced Childhood" (Marillion); and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Oh wow! What great album! RTF is sadly overlooked here, and it is a bummer because this was the music that all the hot R&R bands in the 70's were listening to, even then masters of the instrument they played, and now professor's of music.
    I saw Stanley Clark in the SU men's gym one year, With a little bitty Fender bass man amp! He started out acoustic, love how he plays that bass fiddle with a bow, and by the end of the show he had that gym literally bouncing! From just the bass notes! pounding in the chest is how I described it, all with a bitty little amp. Another overlooked band is the Electric band, You want guitar masters- well here it is. Abicrombie, Pattatuchi,
    wow some real heavy hitters, and overlooked!
    Will offer comment when my copy arrives.
    " I know more about nothing than anyone!"

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    This one is an easy 10.

    Material superb, quad mix superb, sound quality superb.

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    Member ~dave~~wave~'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Hang on to your hats.

    There's a ton of bass in the rears right from track 1.
    May be the best vintage quad mix I've heard so far in that regard.
    Cast your dancin' spell my way, I promise to go under it...

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    What an interesting listen.

    Of the 3 discs I ordered from this latest Vocalion batch this was the "bonus disc". Was curious due to its rarity and status as the last Columbia quad.

    I'm new to the fusion genre and have really only gotten into it because of surround releases. The few fusion recordings I've checked out have been hit or miss...I love Headhunters and Bitches Brew, but Weather Report's Mysterious Traveller didn't do anything for me. This recording isn't really like any of those at all though. I'd go as far as saying it's probably one of the most unusual albums I've ever heard.

    It's difficult to equate to anything, but I'd say it kind of has a Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66 vibe with the female vocalist. However, there are also some Tomita-esque moments with synth solos, and there are also Chicago/BS&T-like horns. Really strange combination that seems extra weird at first but ends up growing on you.

    Given that this is the last Columbia quad, it's interesting to see what years of evolving mixing techniques for SQ culminated to. The fidelity is excellent and I'll also note that there is plenty of bass since that has been a hot conversation topic lately. The mix is super discrete and is sort of a combination of the earlier four corner approach and the later more evolved mixes. The drums and bass are panned hard left and right in the rear channels in a manner extremely similar to Sly's Greatest Hits or ToP's Ain't Nothin' Stopping Us Now, so if you're expecting a more modern approach with drums and bass in the fronts like in the Chicago Quadio set, you might be disappointed. The songs with two vocalists have them panned left and right in the fronts similar to "Watching The River Run" on Loggins & Messina's Full Sail.

    To sum it up, the album is an acquired taste but is worth hearing due to the quad mix's historical significance (as noted in the awesome liner notes). I do have to wonder why this was chosen as the last release rather than a more popular offering (Boston?). Perhaps it was a stealth attempt by the powers that be at CBS to ensure the death of SQ, as this album is not the most accessible type of music for your average consumer. Low sales on the quad version seems like the perfect excuse for them to kill the format and direct money toward other endeavors. Interesting to think about...

    I'll give it a 9

  10. #6
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I'm not ready to rate this yet, having only listened to it once, but I wanted to say that I really agree with sjcorne's analysis of this album. I think the only thing it's guilty of is not sounding like Romantic Warrior - what I love about it is exactly what sjcorne pointed out, that if you were describing the sound, you'd have to use a combination of a whole bunch of other bands to do it. One of my first thoughts listening to this album today in quad was "I don't know how you couldn't call this album a musical achievement" - I can understand being disappointed that it doesn't sound like Romantic Warrior, but there are so many quieter more nuanced bits on this album that would have been totally obliterated by the hi-octane riffing of the Romantic Warrior lineup. It's not to say one is better and one is worse, just that they're both different and I'm glad that they both exist.

    This has the same right rear drums/left rear bass layout as the Tower of Power disc, but I think it works better than ToP for some reason - maybe because in a band like this the drums don't need to dominate the mix the same way they do in a funk or R&B band. As sjcorne and dave-wave noted, there's tons of bass in the rear speakers - it really made me wish I had a setup that featured four enormous floorstanding speakers, that's for sure. It's interesting actually, there seem to be a few of these '76/'77 era Columbia quads with no quad remix engineer credited that have the same right rear drums/left rear bass type of quad mix - this and Tower of Power are two, and Fredblue tells me that the Miracles 'Love Crazy' is another. I wonder if the same mysterious engineer did them all, because aside from Sly and the Family Stone's Greatest Hits, I can't think of many (or any) other quad mixes they put out between '72 and '75 that use that type of mixing style.

    The biggest revalation for me on the first listen of this disc surprisingly was the (oft-maligned) vocals. Some of the lyrics are a bit cringeworthy, but I was struck by just how lifelike the timbre(4) of Gayle Moran's voice was on the opening track was, almost enough to make your armhair stand up. I was also really taken with how much multitracked vocals there are - people think of this album as being the one where they had a singer, but some real thought was put in to the execution of the vocals (especially the harmonised chorus parts) and I think it only really shows in the quad mix when things are panned to all four speakers.

    I think 'weird' is one of the best words to describe this album, but it's weird in the best way. I was a child of the 80s, where music more often than not was very strict 3 minute verse/chorus/verse type stuff, so discovering albums like this as a teenager in the 90s, i felt like Alice going through the looking glass - 10 minute songs! crazy structures! weird synthesizers! long solos!

    I haven't voted on this one yet, only having listened to it once, but it will be at least a 9 from me. The only reason I could see not giving it a 10 is that there are albums I like more (what would I give them, 11?) and the drums/bass in the rear mixing style isn't my favourite. I was bowled over by how good the disc sounds though, absolute reference quality in my opinion. It's a travesty that this quad mix (and so many others) have only been heard in discrete form on 8-track tape, which has less than half the frequency response of this new SACD.

  11. #7
    Surroundaholic Moderator Bob Romano's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I've been listening to RTF since high school and when this album came out I was a bit shocked at the difference between this and the previous albums. I was little bummed at first but then I really listened. This has been one of my favorite jazz albums since it came out. And this new disc sounds GREAT!! Nice bass and a very smooth sound all around. I had this Q8 and loved it. Now I can dump that and listen in pure bliss. A 10 from me.
    Last edited by Bob Romano; 08-17-2017 at 09:43 PM.

  12. #8
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Outstanding mix and great fidelity. Corea has his fingerprint all over this doesn't he?
    I really have no reason to vote less than a 10

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I'll have to think real hard about getting this one.
    The AF version is so recent and I didn't think much of the album.
    Normally like this type of music but, this one didn't appeal to me, especially the very weak vocals

  15. #10
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Firstly I would really like to thank Vocalion for this VERY unexpected surprise, as I was very disappointed when the AF disc was announced without QUAD as stereo only. Sadly after much thought (as I really wanted this, it was one of the few RTF albums I never owned) I ended up declining purchase because of the lack of QUAD, AF's own fault as they had spolt me with their plethora of QUAD releases and anything less just - wouldn't - do. Then a year later lo and behold Vocalion comes along and rights our QUADly injustice and rewards us the much desired Quadraphonic release of RTF Musicmagic Great fidelity, fun mix and I even like the vocals (but would be absolutely stoked if we could have a multi-ch release of Romantic Warrior, yeah, that's the ticket!) Really glad we got this one.

    And now my score in poem (apologies to Lewis Carroll): O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! What is there but left to say it's a nine, a nine, a 9 I say! And now I bid you all, good day.
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    This was a 10 for me....no hesitation...you can quibble about style all day long.... but at the end of the day there are 2 iconic players on this disc...Stanley Clarke was only 26 years old when this was recorded...and Chick Corea was 10 years older...and Chick's wife...Gayle Moran...does a nice job on the vocals....some people mention that some of these recordings are dated...not modern...but in jazz circles that defines the different periods....jazz fusion was a product of the 70's but still lives today in some corners in the jazz community.....IMO this 40 year old recording is just the way it should be...

    If you keep an open mind about the style of this title I think most people would embrace the music.. and if you appreciate talented players....they are certainly on display...

  18. #12
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    This has got to be one of the weirdest albums I've ever heard... jazzy vocals; keyboards playing anything from fusion to baroque; horns sounding sometimes like Chicago, other times like they're announcing royalty; funky bass solos; electric guitar fireworks... I love the sonics; I love the uber-discrete mix; I love the music! What a wild surprise. 10.
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Can you imagine being Stanley Clarke or Chick Corea and hearing this in quad for the first time since it was mixed in quad. Being flattered at your own work presented in such a high class technically perfect way after all these years. I got the same feeling from E,W&F's "Open Our Eyes" from Audio Fidelity. It's a crime that these amazing mixes sit for decades unissued. Such stellar quad master tapes.

    I am leaning on a 10 here, or a 9 Because I prefer other RTF albums. But I should not compare this to other RTF albums and rate it on its own merits.

    A 10

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I have mixed feelings about this album. First off, a great job by Vocalion - excellent fidelity, super discrete - no doubt. I've been a big fan of Chick Corea and RTF since the original self-titled release, featuring Flora Purim and Airto. Loved electric RTF starting with the amazing Bill Connors on guitar and then of course on to Al Di Meola. I remember seeing them perform at Stony Brook University back in the early seventies just after Bill Connors left the band and right before Al joined - the guitar player that night was Earl Klugh! So...great musicianship abounds - love Joe Farrell's horn arrangements, Chick playing always superb and Stanley Clarke - the best!

    Two criticisms - Gayle Moran's (and to a lesser extent, Stanley Clarke) vocals cut through me like a knife - not a fan. The second and I realize that this was a quad mixing choice - drum's exclusively in the right rear speaker. Spreading the drums out in the fronts would have really made the mix special (IMHO).

    A 10 to Vocalion for another pristine quad release! A 7 for the content (mainly because of the weak vocals) and an 8 for the quad mix. Still a worthy addition to my collection. An 8 overall.

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by skherbeck View Post
    This has got to be one of the weirdest albums I've ever heard... jazzy vocals; keyboards playing anything from fusion to baroque; horns sounding sometimes like Chicago, other times like they're announcing royalty; funky bass solos; electric guitar fireworks... I love the sonics; I love the uber-discrete mix; I love the music! What a wild surprise. 10.
    There is no electric guitar on this album. You're probably hearing Chick's synth.

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    organ of Corti junkie kap'n krunch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I THOUGHT I was familiar with Return to Forever...I mean I saw them in Madrid in 2008 and loved it....I was about to pull the trigger on this one but I listened to it on YooToob, but I really can't get over the vocals (???!!!??)....they sound extremely dated and out of context from someone who knew this group as an INSTRUMENTAL group...yes, the vocals are well executed, but ...no way Josť...sorry , DV....and since I'm in "saving moolah mode" (yeah, like the shit they pay me in my job would allow for ANY kind of decent savings....anyway...)
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    not singling anyone out because yours is not the 1st such post here kap.. but shouldn't people's reasons for not buying discs be elsewhere other than in QQ Polls where we're meant to comment on our responses to discs we buy?
    i dunno, kinda feels that sort of thing should be in a discussion thread instead maybe?
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by fredblue View Post
    not singling anyone out because yours is not the 1st such post here kap.. but shouldn't people's reasons for not buying discs be elsewhere other than in QQ Polls where we're meant to comment on our responses to discs we buy?
    i dunno, kinda feels that sort of thing should be in a discussion thread instead maybe?
    Dear Adam...yes. you are absolutely right...maybe cause I'm a big lazy ass and did not look for a thread regarding this release....
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by kap'n krunch View Post
    Dear Adam...yes. you are absolutely right...maybe cause I'm a big lazy ass and did not look for a thread regarding this release....
    sorry to be 'that person'.. i'm still raiding the dictionary for all the superlatives i'll need to comment fully here and justify my QQ "10"..!
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by elmer View Post
    There is no electric guitar on this album. You're probably hearing Chick's synth.
    Or possibly Stan's piccolo electric bass, which is tuned up an octave, to the same pitch as the bottom four strings of a guitar.
    Cast your dancin' spell my way, I promise to go under it...

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by ~dave~~wave~ View Post
    Or possibly Stan's piccolo electric bass, which is tuned up an octave, to the same pitch as the bottom four strings of a guitar.
    and the 'Female Instrument"
    " I know more about nothing than anyone!"

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    I really like this album, again its one I hadn't heard before (at least I don't remember hearing it!).

    Its a 10 for the music

    10 for the sound quality

    10 for the Quad mix

    Great and informative liner notes.

    A 10.
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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by DuncanS View Post
    I really like this album, again its one I hadn't heard before (at least I don't remember hearing it!).

    Its a 10 for the music

    10 for the sound quality

    10 for the Quad mix

    Great and informative liner notes.

    A 10.
    Once again, RTF is the music all the hot bands of the 70's were listening to. Al Dimeola was a prodigy, fresh out of Berkley, now every member is a professor of music. If you like this, get the BD of the show in Montreux, (DTS MA) it is kick ass! And each member has solo work, especially Al Dimeola if you like a guitar then here is a master. And Stanley Clark any of his other stuff is great! I do serious listen-no distractions, serious man cave time, with supportive relaxing items to assist- my time.


    yes I know it's not RTF!
    " I know more about nothing than anyone!"

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Like the PPL which is my first DV disk that I recently added to my surround pile and I only got this title because of what some others here were saying about it and fact that it could be a rare disk in the future.
    This is not my type of music but I will give it a 10 again because of the fidelity and on the basis of surround alone it has some interesting choices of placement of instruments and is this ever a discreet clean sounding recording.
    I don't think this will get a lot of spins by me but I am happy to have had the chance now to hear this and I do appreciate the musicianship going on here, these are some great musicians and I do agree with some others comments about vocals and lyrics being cringe worthy but so are some simple pop songs from some of my favorite artists.
    DV top marks for getting this out of the Sony vaults, for that you get a 10 from me.

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    Default Re: Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]

    Quote Originally Posted by peterzach View Post
    Like the PPL which is my first DV disk that I recently added to my surround pile and I only got this title because of what some others here were saying about it and fact that it could be a rare disk in the future.
    This is not my type of music but I will give it a 10 again because of the fidelity and on the basis of surround alone it has some interesting choices of placement of instruments and is this ever a discreet clean sounding recording.
    I don't think this will get a lot of spins by me but I am happy to have had the chance now to hear this and I do appreciate the musicianship going on here, these are some great musicians and I do agree with some others comments about vocals and lyrics being cringe worthy but so are some simple pop songs from some of my favorite artists.
    DV top marks for getting this out of the Sony vaults, for that you get a 10 from me.

    In the mid 70's I began to get tired of rock music. I would listen and expect more from the lead instrument. I like Led Zep, and other Rock bands but began to see the limits of Jimmy Page, and others it suddenly occurred to me that I wanted more. Then , one day my friend introduced me to RTF. I immediately took to it and understood now what I was craving from music. I think the ability to understand music theory and having the ability to play an instrument is crucial in understanding the progressive nature of the musicians knowledge of music.
    I have this in me. I can pick up any music instrument and play a simple tune. My main instrument was drums, but have been educated in woodwinds, sax, clarinet , etc.
    Once one can grasp the concept, it opens up! and I, for one was hooked immediately, and continue to enjoy it. One thing I have since discovered is how the same tune can be different, just by concentrating on one instrument. This is how I was taught to appreciate progressive music. But, the whole thing changes and every time I hear the tune it sounds better!
    This album is 70's era, has no influence like rock music and is completely original. Like all the stuff RTF put out.
    Professors of music, that they are, how many rock artists can say that?
    " I know more about nothing than anyone!"

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