Return to Forever’s Romantic Warrior is a Jazz/Fusion masterpiece that has more in common in many regards with the progressive rock music of its time than other fusion albums. Chick Corea, Lenny White, Al DiMeola and Stanley Clarke (what a frikkin’ line-up!) must have been listening to a lot of rock music in the early 70s, because it just feels prog.
The most commercially viable song here is “Majestic Dance,” with a very memorable guitar line, reminiscent of what Jeff Beck was doing on his Blow By Blow album a year earlier. “The Magician” reminds me of some of the “Art-Rock” aspirations of King Crimson and Yes, just as the intro of the following “Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant” would not sound out of place on an album from either of those two bands.
These are phenomenal players in their field playing at the top of their game. Contemporaries Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report were certainly making weighty and highly regarded music at the time, but they had no where near the sense of melody or appeal that Romantic Warrior showed Return to Forever to have. It takes amazing talent to pull something like this off.
You may wonder why many jazz albums are included in the prog canon. If you are looking for the link between fusion and prog-rock, look no further. This is it!
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 12th, 2011