I bought Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior LP back in 1976 and it was a revelation. Those were the days when you could ferret around in the local record store and you never knew what you were going to dig up.
When the needle hit the vinyl surprise, surprise no vocals. This was egg and milk to me. At that time I was known as the concept kid and concept albums were all the rage in the 70s. The nickname was due to the fact that I have a penchant for concept albums. Artists that made albums that painted a picture and told a story.
Another one of my aims was to find the ultimate album; that is one that really raised the hairs on the back of my neck and got me out there.
Of course early Genesis, Mike Oldfield, Yes and a clutch of classical music albums were already doing it for me.
So when it came to Romantic Warrior I was blown away, coincidentally the name of the album, the band and artwork sold it to me, I'd never heard a note.
And so to the Mothership. It's safe to say that Return to Forever and Chick Corea's Elektric band have never been far away from my turntable, tape deck and now iPod over the decades.
When I first played the Mothership I must admit I was slightly disappointed, what no Al Di Meola? I've played the whole album through five or six times now at least and I've come to appreciate that this is a different animal. The Mediaeval Overture and the Sorceress both remind me of warm summer days, perhaps France or perhaps in a different time and reality altogether. With the addition of Jean Luc Ponty's violin this just reinforces the feeling. Señor mouse, what a delightful track, whimsical in places, the individual solos blend effortlessly and seamlessly from one section to another. Every track is a masterpiece, a testament to the fine musicianship of these players and of course Chick Corea in particularly. We even get treated to Stanley Clarke's Schooldays. And then there is the track Romantic Warrior itself, listening to this is like coming back to a long lost friend changed with time, still as relevant as ever, still with immense impact but more subtle, delicate and somehow warmer.
Absolutely fantastic, this still really gets me out there with no more than the addition of perhaps an incense stick or a cup of Earl Grey! The hairs are raised on the back of my neck as ever.
I never did find that perfect concept album and like Rudy and Spider Dijon from the Mighty Boosh searching for the new sound, I could have been destined to look forever. I have now come to realise that Return to Forever and perhaps Stomu Yamasta's Go album are as close as I'm ever going to get but thats no bad thing.
And what of the lyrics? Radio DJs and many music fans just don't get it if they haven't got some lyrics to sing along with. I'm not adverse to the lyrics in a song as long as they have something constructive or interesting to say. In this case it really is like Seth MacFarlane says "music is better than words."
If you like fine musicianship with well crafted tunes expertly executed and something to take your mind on an adventure then look no further you have found the holy Grail, the mother load and of course the Mothership.
If that isn't a pretentious enough review for you I don't know what is but I stand by all I've said.