I had some serious preconceptions about Earth, Wind and Fire but, fortunately for me, I listened to one of their later albums a year or two ago and learned that I was sorely mistaken about this band.
This is a diverse record that manages to encompass a fair number of styles on the spectrum between soul, funk and what we might call “world” music to jazz. The diversity is a big plus because so many soul/funk groups of the decade basically did their thing for 40 minutes an album, and then just put out album after album which sound similar. From my memory, I do not feel like this is that similar to the later record I’ve heard. I especially appreciate the diversity because I find their pure soul to be a little too slick for me.
Like so much of this type of music I can’t say that the songs are particularly special. This is a not a genre that is obsessed with songwriting craft, which is totally fine. We should all know that coming in.
The real appeal is in the performances and arrangements. In both cases they are stellar. This is a band with a bunch of good singers and they show off their voices on a number of tracks. But, for me, it’s the grooves that really sell the record, as most of them are pretty good and there’s often a lot going on the arrangements, which elevate them over some of those of their contemporaries.
Basically, this album is another reminder I need to listen to this band more.
- “Mighty Mighty” (Maurice White, Verdine White) 3:03
- “Devotion” (M. White, Philip Bailey) 4:50
- “Fair But So Uncool” (Rick Giles, Charles Stepney) 3:39
- “Feelin’ Blue” (Kenny Altman) 4:28
- “Kalimba Story” (M. White, V. White) 4:03
- “Drum Song” (M. White) 5:10
- “Tee Nine Chee Bit” (M. White, C. Stepney, P. Bailey) 3:45
- “Spasmodic Movements” (Eddie Harris) 1:50
- “Rabbit Seed” (M. White) 0:31
- “Caribou” (C. Stepney, R. Giles) 3:25
- “Open Our Eyes” (Leon Lumpkins) 5:06
- Philip Bailey – Vocals, Congas, Percussion
- Larry Dunn – Moog Synthesizer, Piano, Organ
- Johnny Graham – Guitar, Percussion
- Ralph Johnson – Drums, Percussion
- Al McKay – Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
- Maurice White – Vocals, Drums, Kalimba
- Verdine White – Vocals, Bass, Percussion
- Andrew Woolfolk – Soprano Saxophone, Flute