Typically, I don’t like instrumental music, regardless of the genre. Once I started listening to “The Anthology” by the 70’s funk supergroup Return to Forever, I was mesmerized. A career spanning 20-song 2-CD set, handpicked by the four members of Return to Forever; keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist with the perfect afro Stanley Clarke, Lenny White on drums and Al Di Meola on guitar, “The Anthology” captures these four legends at their finest.
The opener of the first disc, “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy,” has White flailing on the drum kit when Corea and Clarke pound out staccato notes faster than Elvis was pounding peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. Di Meola’s guitar brings a rock aspect to the track that is like the icing on the cake.
Some of the track names have otherworldly names. “Space Circus (Part I & II),” “After the Cosmic Rain,” “Vulcan Worlds,” and the 14+ minute “Song to the Pharaoh Kings” are all titles that sound like they belong on a Star Trek soundtrack, not a funk-rock album. Their sound is otherworldly though. Corea and White played on Miles Davis’s seminal album “Bitches Brew” while the group as a collective won a Grammy for “No Mystery” which is on the second disc of this collection.
You certainly get your money’s worth with “The Anthology.” Each disc is over 75 minutes long and overflowing with classic solos from each member. Return to Forever is a return to a time when music involved musicians that were extraordinarily talented. Even now, these four could out play 95% of today’s musicians without singing a single note. Take a listen and see what great music sounds like.