Raise your hand if you owned this album as a young’un. If you grew up in a black family in the Seventies and Eighties, it was probably in the crate somewhere, right next to Songs In The Key Of Life and the Jackson 5 Christmas album. Earth Wind and Fire’s volume one is a timeless classic. For some reason, we didn’t have volume two at the crib. What is with that?
Growing up in my household, EWF Volume 1 was never far from the turntable. I grew up on Earth Wind and Fire as a staple, and other bands sometimes came later. I actually knew EWF’s cover of “Got to Get You Into My Life” long before I knew about the Beatles (or what the song is about!). Maybe that’s where I got my love for big brass sections — when Earth Wind and Fire takes the stage, they roll DEEP. Like fifteen people or more. Horns, back up vocals, keyboardists spread all over the place. And back in the day, every one of them was dressed like a funky spaceship was about to up and take them away. I love that over-the-top futuristic Seventies LaBelle, P-Funk, EWF style. There’s something about a man in skintight gold lame that brings joy to my heart. Speaking of which, here’s a classic live performance from the classic late Seventies/early Eighties era. LIVE. Performance. The song is “Fantasy.” The band is insane. And listen to Philip Bailey’s voice. It’s like buttah!
For a quick dose of unadulterated musical ecstasy, fast forward to 3:10 and let it ride. He is hitting those high notes like nobody’s business, and the band literally starts jumping for joy. It’s awesome. What’s even more awesome is that EWF is STILL out there doing the damn thing. Still touring the world. Check them out here, performing “Head To the Sky” and “Shining Star” at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Norway last year. Harmonies as tight as ever!
What’s your favorite Earth Wind and Fire song? I know, I know – it’s hard to choose just one. My top three are Shining Star, Can’t Hide Love (the horns!), and That’s The Way Of the World. Oh, that’s my JAM. That might be my favorite one!