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Romantic Warrior Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.6 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, February 8, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Genre: Jazz Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 8-FEB-2000


Originally released in 1976, Return To Forever's Romantic Warrior could be described as the high-water mark of jazz fusion's commercial popularity, reaching a spot on the Billboard charts and garnering the group a fanatical following of fans attracted to the band's technical prowess and bombast. Released on the heels of the breakup of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Romantic Warrior still sounds like a standard-bearer for jazz fusion, full of flashy solos and complicated arrangements that seem like collages of different moods, meters, and tempos. The album is much closer to the progressive rock of Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, or King Crimson than anything from the jazz realm. Return to Forever's rhythm team of bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White, who gives the group a subtly funkier sound than most of their contemporaries. Still, it's pianist Chick Corea, using a veritable arsenal of keyboards and effects, and guitarist Al DiMeola, only 21 at the time of this recording, who define Romantic Warrior as a fusion landmark. This reissued edition comes with improved sound and a brief reminiscence by Corea in the liner notes. --Ezra Gale
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 8, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: February 8, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 46 minutes
  • ASIN: B00004HYLF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,167 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Quirino on April 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Back in 1976, albums like Romantic Warrior were the norm in jazz. Bebop and hardbop jazz had "gone underground" as fusion ran its natural course. For older jazz fans, the connection between free form innovation and electronical pyrotechnics often spelled confusion and misunderstanding. For those of us who grew up with bands like Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis and E.L.P., the album was something of a find. It allowed us to develop "ears" for listening to older jazz. For me, it didn't take long to backtrack to Herbie Hancock's Empyrean Isle album or Wayne Shorter's See No Evil after hearing this landmark release. All by way of saying that, even after close to twenty-five years, this album holds up remarkably well (when so many other fusion experiments now sound somewhat stilted and comical). There should be little doubt in readers minds that this is heady, trippy, mind-expanding stuff. Its use of electronics (especially synths) and the fire brought to the interplay of guitars, bass and drums, make it a tough listen for those who think jazz is all brush-stroke drums and soft, muted trumpets. Listening to it again, however, I heard elements of Coltrane and Monk, Mingus and Bitches' Brew-era Davis...things I hadn't the first time because I hadn't experienced them. And hearing those elements here "for the first time" as it were, deeply enhanced my listening pleasure. Make no mistake, this was, is and always will be, a jazz album. It may be a highly idiosyncratic release, definitely a product of its time, but it still sounds soaring, inventive, playful, intense, winning. A perfect remastering job rounds out the experience. All told, it achieves what every good reissue should: it allows a recontextualization of what made it important and reaffirmed what made it essential. Its intensity, wryness and bold strokes a great romp through diverse fields in search of 3-D windmills and Moog jesters. Exceptional.
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Format: Audio CD
"Romantic Warrior" has gone thru several audio iterations since debuting on CD. The domestic CD, which was the 2nd remaster of the album, is pretty good.

However, the benchmark disc is this 2001 Sony Japan-only DSD remaster, derived from a DSD-SACD release in 1999, now long out-of-print. The DSD-processing delivers quite a bit of additional clarity, and especially much better bass, than the U.S. remaster.

The DSD was also re-pressed in 2006. Both pressings have since sold thru, but some availability does remain.

In 2008, the Warrior album was also released, in its entirety, on the 2CD RTF Anthology set. However, that version is heavily remixed, which I didn't particularly care for.

The original's recording, engineering and mastering were, for all intents and purposes, perfect to begin with. After listening to original mix for the past 30 years, I found the remix to be very jarring: The main objective seemed to be targeted in increasing the volume of the solo'd instruments (check out Clarke's bass solo at the end of "Medieval Overture" on the Anthology disc as an example).

If you're looking for the best-sounding version of the Warrior album in its original mix, my advice is to buy this DSD remaster.
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Format: Audio CD
Along with The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever were one of the few major jazz-fusion/rock bands to gain popularity, and bring jazz to a wider audience, albeit in a rock context. These fusion bands generally created a more accessible form of jazz: by filtering it through large doses of the aforementioned rock aesthetic.
While this album has received everlasting praise from critics and fans alike, I was quite disappointed with this on the first few listens. The turn-offs at the time? The slickness of it all. While I found the musicianship quite accomplished, I found it to be quite cold, dry, over-manufactured and plastic-sounding, which gave me a feeling of the music coming off as quite soulless. The synthesizer effects in many of the songs sounded flavorless and insubstantial, and the drum sonics sounded quite dry and plastic as well. As far as synthesizers go, I'll be the first to disagree with the many who say that they produce little or no emotional substance, but here, this was the first time I was ever compelled to agree with the many detractors.
Most importantly, I was disappointed in this because everything mentioned above that bothered me seemed to be the very things that go against what I assumed are/were the very principles of jazz and/or jazz-fusion; the music needs feeling, it needs soul, it needs fire, it needs purposeful, authentic expression. A highly respected friend and pal of mine -- if he reads this review, he will know exactly who he is -- doesn't enjoy this album for the exact reasons listed above, and it's safe to say that I fully understand why. Only difference between us regarding our opinion of the album? He still doesn't enjoy the album, while my opinion has changed, and I now enjoy it.
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Format: Audio CD
While riding in a van one day in the later '70s, a bandmate stuck in an 8-track tape and said,"Hey nate, listen to this guitar player". After about 10 minutes, I was finally able to close my frozen jaw and wipe the drool from my shirt, and asked him if I could borrow it. He didn't get it back until I bought the album.

It wasn't just the guitarist - the bassist blew me away! And all those synthesizer sounds that complimented everything perfectly. I didn't even LIKE synthesizers! It wasn't just the musicianship and cool sounds either. Even today when I plug in the remastered CD, I still feel like I'm sitting in front of an old console stereo. You know, the wooden box that had funky colored fabric speaker grille cloth on each side of the front, and had a flip top center that exposed the record player, 8 track player and radio tuner. Those things sounded SSSOOOO warm.

That clear, warm production drew me in as much as anything, and that feeling didn't get lost on the remastered CD. I've been a musician for 30 years and have listened to much music, but nothing has grabbed me like that day in the van. Romantic Warrior was the reason I bought so many Stanley Clarke albums and took me on a musical journey that I'm much the richer for.

In a time when disco ruled, what a dramatic departure to discover a collection of Baroque tunes played at breakneck speed on rock n' roll instruments full of funk and experimentation. A huge chunk of great music from the last 30 years exists because of this album. And most people don't even know that RTF ever existed.

This ain't just a cool album, it changed my musical life!
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