HiRez Poll Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC [SACD]


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Rate the SACD of Return to Forever - MUSICMAGIC

  • 6

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Poor Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Hi-Res Moderator
Staff member
QQ Supporter
Oct 31, 2008
Middle TN
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! :yikes\
The Quadraphonic mix is also available to stream in Dolby Audio via Apple Music:
(n) :) (y)


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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.
What an interesting listen!

Of the 3 discs I ordered from this latest DV 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 the female vocalist gives it a sort of Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66 vibe. But there are also some Tomita-esque moments with synth solos, along with some 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.
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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.
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.
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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
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. :howl 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 :cool: 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.
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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 José...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...)
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?
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....