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They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore (shame)!
on 1 March 2006
I recently reacquired this little 70s jazz fusion gem to replace a battered old tape copy, and boy, was it worth it! All cleaned up and remastered, it sounds fresher and more dynamic than ever.
Firstly, it has to be said that these guys all possessed impecable Jazz credentials, and were numbered among the finest players on the planet in their day, in any musical genre, and the level of musicianship on this album remains staggering despite the intervening 30 years. Corea's considerable compositional and playing skills are well to the fore, as the group engages with and then masters all manner of rock styles, from prog thru psych to folk. Where the Mahavishnu Orch was more concerned with overwhelming power and spectacle, RTF were much more concerned with the music itself, and the tracks are all unfailingly melodic and inventive.
Whether on the fluid funk of "Sorceress", the prog inspired title track, the dark strangeness of "Magician", or the upbeat sparkle of "Majestic Dance", Corea's percussive piano runs and magical chord and tempo changes race alongside riffs and solos that fly from the fingers of Stanley Clarke and Al Di Meola like incandescent cometary fragments, wild and crazy but always with an immaculate control so often lost on rock players. Lenny White's drumming is the strong, still centre of the maelstrom, so deft and exquisite as it holds the music in place that you barely notice it, until it jumps up and demands your appreciation as he drops in a sharp fill, or executes the time signature equivalent of a high speed hand-brake turn.
Such blazing, shameless, virtuoso playing, performed within such a disciplned, musically focused arena, is not to everyone's taste, and I've beem told before that I favour the too-many-notes school of musical overkill, but nonetheless this is one album I feel quite justified revelling in for its sheer exuberance.
A joy to rediscover, a relic from another age, a priceless musical artefact from a time when the music mattered, and nothing else. Luvvit!