Earth, Wind & Fire | The Essential (Sony Legacy)

cd earth-wind-fireHere, they do more than bring the funk: They invent it.


My husband tells me I can’t obsess over contemporary white-boy funk without going back to the roots, so when I saw Sony Legacy was releasing a best-of Earth, Wind & Fire 2-disc, 18-song set, I had to take a dive. Although I was a bit young to have been a fan when the songs first came out (at my tender young age, I was too busy buying records by Shaun Cassidy), many of them sound familiar to me—and how could they not? From 1973 to 1981, EW&F ruled the music charts, releasing seven albums that hit Top Ten in either the U.S., U.K., or both.

Here, they do more than bring the funk: They damn near invent it. A blend of harmonization, deep-throated backing vocals, and outstanding falsetto accents keep me enthralled start to finish—something I didn’t altogether see coming, I’ve gotta tell you. Of course, the classic and near-perfect “September” remains the track to beat (and if you haven’t seen this song’s importance—and the band’s in general— in The Intouchables, go rent the movie now); there’s a reason so many bands cover it today. Of course, you owe yourself to go back to the original; it’s definitely repeat-worthy. Also delivering on EW&F’s groove-filled promise are the still-awesome “Serpentine Fire,” “Sing a Song,” “Shining Star,” and “Kalimba Story.” Songs such as “Keep Your Head to the Sky” (here remastered) and “On Your Face” further epitomize the slow jam.

Although I fully thought I’d be skipping over the slower tracks, most of them work for me. After the grooving “Mighty Mighty” comes the ballad “Devotion”; a good example of the vocal versatility of this nine-piece ensemble. I remember “Getaway” and “That’s the Way of the World” from my childhood, only now I listen with a new appreciation. Of course, that isn’t to say that the funk tracks aren’t my favorite, as they undoubtedly are, but The Essential provides a comprehensive retrospective of a band that had way more than one trick up its sleeve. A | Laura Hamlett

Track Listing

Mighty Mighty
Keep Your Head to the Sky
Kalimba Story
Shining Star
That’s the Way of the World
Sing a Song
Can’t Hide Love
On Your Face
Saturday Nite
Got to Get You into My Life
Serpentine Fire
I’ll Write a Song for You
Drum Song

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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