Home FAQ Links About Me Message Board Contact Me Home Image Map

Earth, Wind & Fire Song Reviews


Earth, Wind and Fire (1971)

Read the full review:
Earth, Wind and Fire

Help Somebody 10/10

This is decidedly funk music, but itís pretty weird. Thereís a distinctive jazz flavor to this song, and the way this band blends these sounds is pretty unique. (OK, to be fair, Iím not very big on funk, but at least I note a startling amount of true talent on this track.) The song is danceable, and itís structured very interestingly. Itís so complex that I really have a difficult time trying to describe it. What the listener would really find important about this song, however, is the melody! Itís catchy! You canít ask for much more than that. (OK, thereís some goofy dialogue at the end of this Ö Well, at least they donít take themselves very seriously, even though they probably could.)

Moment of Truth 9/10

Itís not as deliciously weird as its predecessor, but at least itís a danceable funk song with a nice beat and good melody. A lot of spirit. This sounds like a developing party! This is much more of a pure funk song, but quite a bit less compelling. (I like the way this group layers on the vocals throughout this. Itís symphonic in a way.)

Love is Life 9.5/10

The iconic third track of an album is usually a ballad, and Ö this is a ballad. Itís sure a life-filled ballad, though. Itís not boring like a lot of third tracks are. The song has a really smooth flow and the melody is catchy. It has a heavy horn section and a smooth beat. The vocals are very heartening as if they really believe that ďLove is Life.Ē (They prompt listeners to sing along with them at the end of the song Ö Iím feeling rather sick to my stomach right now and I have no intention of doing so, but Ö Iíd like to Ö)

Fan the Fire 8/10

You know, this is kind of an interesting song. Itís a soul/funk song thatís structured really strangely. It starts out with an oscillator noise and then a very quiet beat starts playing Ö maybe sounding like a calm before the storm. Then thereís a mild explosion and the ďrainĒ starts. It never really turns into a thunderstorm, though. Not that we really should have expected this too. Ö This song seems like it shouldíve been about one or two minutes shorter than it was. Or maybe just developed further. Well, this isnít one of the highlights, I guess. It still makes a nice listen and, by all accounts, itís solid. (The end of this song features goofy dialogue Ö Iím really baffled. It sounds like one of those plays my third grade teacher used to make the whole class perform.)

Címon Children 8/10

Is another strange song. Iím not sure what to make of it. Itís like a funk song but the group started tripping out on mushrooms in the middle of this. Well, whether or not this was a wise decision (I personally donít know what to make of it), this is evident that there was an undeniable creative force behind this group! This is mostly just a normal funk song with an only so-so melody but a danceable beat. I guess stuff like this was why this album didnít sell! (And the goofy dialogue at the end of the songs clearly doesnít help!)

This World Today 8/10

I will say that I like the melody and it really manages to soar at times. The beat is more pounding and almost militaristic, so this really isn't conducive to dancing! If I was a person who was prone to pay attention to lyrics (ÖI normally donít bother unless itís a group or person I generally care aboutÖ) I would wish that they werenít so damn corny. But I didnít hear them. Ö This is a good song, but maybe too choppy.

Bad Tune 10/10

This song isnít so bad. Actually, I think this song is very good. Itís very surprising and artistic! It reminds me of what Duran Duran did in the final track of their debut album. ďTel AvivĒ was a surprisingly dense and artistic song that itís shocking to anyone who just knows them for their radio hits. Ö Youíll probably be surprised at this song too. This is more of a cross between funk and avant garde! It starts out with some thunder sound effects and then a lot of strange notes played on a xylophone type instrument. Then, sure enough, a funk beat starts playing. The funk beat is good, and the strange xylophone notes play throughout. Very compelling music!!! I think you all should listen to this.


The Need of Love (1972)

Read the full review:
The Need of Love

Energy 9/10

So, the first two minutes of this nine-minute track is a really strange spaced-out, avant-gardish bit. Itís goofy, so I wouldnít take it too seriously if I were you. Itís reminiscent of something Frank Zappa would have done on Uncle Meat except less irritating Ö but also less inspired. I like it just because I think itís weird, and I always must champion a band that takes a chance. (Oh, and this album didnít sell well Ö this is why.) What follows is a funk riff. The atmosphere of the song seems strange in a way, but structurally Iíd imagine that it is pretty normal for the genre. A strange discourse happens in the middle of this section, which reminds me that Earth Wind and Fire is a group of oddballs. The song gets distinctly dancier upon the five minute mark (with an interestingly strange groove), but it is characterized by the presence of a jazzy horn sections that keeps it from becoming too normal. This is a strange song overall that I think might have been a little better if it had more continuity or maybe have been just a tad more energetic. But itís weird. I like weird.

Beauty 8/10

I think the melody writing was a little lazy for this song. The feel and atmosphere of this song is very smooth. The artistic ambitiousness of this song is still pretty high (it features some pretty interesting choices for instrumentation at times), which makes it a good listen to anyone who values art in music. But this more-normal song seems like it was fashioned to be infectious Ö and itís just not. I like the sound of it, but the melody is pretty barren here.

I Can Feel it in My Bones 9/10

This is a song that I can only describe as jazz-fusion/funk/art-rock. The horns and the beat are specifically funk, but every once in awhile, thereís a jazzy line played by a horn or some vocals that sound like it might have been sung by Louis Armstrong. The strange and strikingly unconventional structure of this song has the music art at its forefront. The energy of this song is what sells it, though. The group is focused on this songís drive, which helps immensely.

I Think About Loviní You 8.5/10

Sade is what comes to mind when I hear this song. But Iím sure thatís not fair because Sade wasnít an entity in the early Ď70s. This is a decidedly normal song, but the melody is really catchy. The instrumentation is solid and sounds pretty bold and creative. Thereís absolutely nothing to dislike about this song.

Everything is Everything 9/10

This song takes a little while to get started. (It begins with some organ piddling around Ö which is kind of entertaining, but nothing youíd probably remember.) And then it escalates into a pretty energetic, choral funk song. Itís easy to get caught up in its splendor! This song doesnít appear to be as artsy as some of the other tracks in the album (Öwell, itís a lot less concentrated in that effort at least Ö the organ doesnít do enough of that). Itís a good song. Itís nothing like the song that closed their debut album, though!


Last Days and Time (1972)

Read the full review:
Last Days and Time

Time is on Your Side 8.5/10

This is a very normal funk song! Ö It seems like they were fishing for a hit here, and there isnít such a great reason they didnít achieve it other than Iím sure their promotion department left much to be desired. The sound is tight, and everything is properly in its place. The beat is appropriately funky. The electric guitars are doing their funky things. A neat horn section strikes up in the middle of the song. A jazzy saxophone closes things. The melody repeats way too much, but that is normally what the public likes.

They Donít See 7.5/10

This is another straightforward and likable tune. This time itís a ballad, though. You can tell that Maurice White wanted commercial success for his band just by listening to the cheesy violins in the background and the occasional ďmagicalĒ strumming of the harp. OK, Iím probably too cynical to like this song. (Oh, God, the lyrics are too dang ďThe world is blind.Ē) But itís basically likable. The melody is nice and the atmosphere is well constructed.

Make it With You 10/10

ÖAs yes. Proto-disco. Iím not sure why that should come to me other than the singer is doing the falsetto voice that the Bee Gees would capitalize on a few years down the road. This song also sounds very Ď70s. All that said, I really enjoy this one. The melody is very catchy. Its groove is very smooth and mellow Ö but at the same time, itís pretty strange and almost disjointed. The smooth sax in the background was a particularly great choice. The rapidly paced bass guitar makes this song seem zippy. This is a cheesy Ď70s ballad, but itís entirely tasteful. Itís definitely worth scouting out if youíre willing. This song is likable, and Iím not resisting. This should have been a hit.

Power 10/10

Oh yes. I remember it clearly now. This band had released two pretty weird albums previously to this. And, I guess Maurice White wanted his band to have commercial success, but also be weird just to prove that he is creative. I say BRING IT ON, MAN!!!! This song begins with some strange sounding xylophones (that I can only assume originates somewhere in Africa). Then, a funk groove starts playing, but the xylophones continue to play some notes. Ö The xylophones soon forget about it, a bass guitar comes in and we hear an excellent sax solo. This song is jazz, world music and funk all at once. And, itís 100 percent inspired. (This seems like a sequel to ďBad Tune,Ē but itís not quite as starkly original.)

Remember the Children 10/10

This sounds like a Stevie Wonder song. The backing music and the melody not only sound Stevie Wonder, but the VOCALS. I donít care, because this song really KICKS. Itís the high energy that wins me over on this one. It begins with some nearly crazed horn hits, and then the funk beat starts off. Busy horns are all over the place, and the singing even manages to give Wonderís emotional dedication to his work a run for his money. The rhythm section is well done also. So, I guess this is another great song.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone 7/10

Well, I would never have guessed that this is a Pete Seeger cover. Itís a really strange presentation of a war protest song Ö Itís probably the most ultra-polished and schmaltzy Ď70s and cheesy instrumentation featured on this entire album. I must say, after the impressive show they put on with the previous three tracks, this is a major disappointment. The vocals take a turn for the worst in the chorus Ö god, itís squeaky and annoying. This is a big misstep.

Iíd Rather Have You 8.5/10

Oh god, itís another schmaltzy song! (Desperate for public attention, eh?) But this song actually rules in a way. It sounds almost like a Broadway tune (OK, I have a deep affection for show tunes rooted deep within my childhood). But the song soars at the times it needs to, and the melody is nice. A lady sings on this song. I donít know who she is, but she has some nice chops. I knocked a few points off this track for the end, which isnít nearly as inspired as the beginning.

Mom 9.5/10

Smooth R&B. I normally donít like songs like this, but THIS SONG RULES!!!!!!!!!!! The smooth groove keeps me in the mood, but White doesnít forget to pepper the song with some weird solos throughout. (I like the electric piano solo the best.) The rhythm section is truly unbeatable! (Gosh, maybe Mariah Carey should have assembled a band like this for her career.) I donít even like the melody so much Ö itís the atmosphere and stellar instrumentation that makes this such a delight. The dopey violins donít even put things off. Nice, nice, nice.


Head to the Sky (1973)

Read the full review:
Head to the Sky

Evil 8/10

This begins with an "instrumental explosion" --- a wave of sound that involves their African finger piano and percussion. This is about as artistically interesting as they get in these pop tracks! Surely enough, a regular funk song pipes up, and a tight, dancey groove begins to play. This is an enjoyable song, but it's not one of their best I'm afraid. The melody is nice, but the effort doesn't seem that inspired.

Keep Your Head to the Sky 8/10

Much too long. However, the melody is still quite nice! The African finger piano that we hear played in most of their albums is unfortunately repressed here. I wish they wouldn't do that. It's a unique sound for them, and it deserves to be played louder! I also miss their weird ideas. This merely sounds like a funk band pretending to write a funk ballad like Earth, Wind & Fire! Naturally, it's a well written ballad, so maybe that's all you want! The falsetto vocals begin to annoy me, however. Seriously, dude, just sing normally! (I think that's also why Prince tends to annoy me.)

Build Your Nest 7.5/10

The funk guitars are on heavy in some sort of peculiar flood. It's a slightly weird idea, but at this point I'm willing to accept anything! This track has a nice, but I'm not enjoying this too dearly. In fact, this song is very difficult to get into. The melody is alright but not one that I'm going to remember after this is done playing. Oh well.

World's a Masquerade 7/10

This is an OK soft-rock song. The hook's works, but it didn't seem strong enough for them to have repeated it so much. There's nothing wrong with having multiple hooks in pop songs, you know! Its all arranged nicely --- they use that soap opera organ!! But this song is boring. I'm bored. Bored, bored, bored. Come on, where's your weird ideas???

Clover 8.5/10

Quite a bit nicer! It has really nice, steady flow, and I also enjoy the melody. They're restraining themselves from getting too weird, which I take issue with, but at least the beginning has some nice, layered flutes.

Zanzibar 18/20

Yikes! 13 minutes long! It's a lengthy jazz-fusion tune that's entertaining, but it doesn't manage to inspire. At least they managed to save the best for last and the best for longest. They're still not being too experimental, which I miss. I would have expected a weird instrumental solo somewhere in here, but it's all pretty mainstream. There are a few oddities here and there, but it all seems like a compromise. I do enjoy some of the solos. For example, a nice horn solo occurs toward the beginning. I find listening to this enjoyable, however --- there's a nice steady groove to keep the ears intact.


Open Our Eyes (1974)

Read the full review:
Open Our Eyes

Mighty Mighty 10/10

The album begins with the straight-ahead funk-pop song "Mighty Mighty," which features everything a great funk song needs. A strong beat you can tap your foot to, a solid horn section and fun vocal performances. This is a well-written song and it deserves its little place in funk history.

Devotion 8/10

It is considerably slower, and less exciting. The song is well written even though the melody is nothing to get excited about. The vocal performances are nice and soulful, and they sound quite a lot like they're emulating the Four Tops. That's not a bad idea, but also not one that intrigues me. This song is moderately good.

Fair But So Uncool 8.5/10

This is a modest funk song with some excellent rhythm. This is a pretty creative song in its presentation, also, because I can't say that I've heard a groove like this before. Hey, I've never been one to talk badly about this group's ability to innovate! Have you heard their debut? It's frikin' sweet. This song isn't quite so striking, but it's still great.

Feelin' Blue 9/10

This is more of a straight-ahead ballad. Leave it to this band to follow up "Fair But so Uncool" with an exceedingly normal song. It's a moderately paced number with a nice flow and good, carefree vocal melody. The instrument playing features perfect arrangements with a jazz guitar that's almost playing light fusion. It's not such a memorable product, but it's a distinguishable one.

Kalimba Story 8.5/10

"Kalimba Story" brings the funk back to the foreground and not a moment too soon! The song starts with a rock solid beat and, pretty quickly, funk guitars start playing their hearts out in accompaniment. The song isn's too fast paced, but it does have a lot of soul. After awhile, it becomes apparent why this song is called "Kalimba Story." As the song progresses, it gains more inertia and Maurice White sloyly brings in that African xylophone he's so fond of. (This particular instrument shows up in a lot of early albums of this band.) The drawback to this song is that when it's all over, it seems like it repeated too much.

Drum Song 9.5/10

And that xylophone is given star treatment with "Drum Song," which turns out to be one of the better songs in the album. The xylphone begins with a solo and a nice, African beat chimes in to give the song some rhythm. They don't forget to include a nice, steady funk bass guitar!

Tee Nine Chee Bit 8/10

This is another mid-tempoed funk song that starts with some humorous dialogue, and the rest of the song continues to have a sense of humor. It's good that such a band doesn't take themselves more seriously than necessary! Serious composers also usually mean they're boring.

Spasmodic Movements 8/10

This is a highly enjoyable jazz fusion band. After all, Maurice White assembled a band of excellent instrument players, and it's certainly high time he got to show them off! There's no singing; just straight ahead jazz playing.

Caribou 8.5/10

Scat singing that was popular of choral work in the early-to-mid '60s characterizes "Caribou," which seems an interesting decision, because I would have thought this kind of stuff was taboo in 1974 (just because things tend to go out of style 10 years after they're popular ... but what do I really know?) This is another song that's gives this album its extremely diverse flavor.

Open Our Eyes 8/10

This is the final song, and it's more of a straight ahead ballad. It's solid and well played, but they repeat the same chords too much at the end of the song. This is kind of a disappointing ending for me, but this is certainly a solid song.


That's the Way of the World (1975)

Read the full review:
That's the Way of the World

Shining Star

The album begins with a one-minute preview of their number one hit single, "Shining Star." Don't worry! We'll get the full song by the ninth track. I'm not scoring this, because it really doesn't seem like enough to score.

That's the Way of the World 9.5/10

The mood is utterly bright and it'll definitely put a smile on your face. The melody is catchy and it fits the optimistic tone that they were aiming for with this track. The instrumentation is straight ahead. They don't underdo it nor do they overdo it. There's a very regular, mid-tempoed beat amidst a modest funk riff. The singing is more of an ensemble work (each singer contributing a note almost whenever they feel like it), and they also sound pretty happy! The backdrop noise is also well done. They have a voilin track in the background, but they don't overdo it to the point of cheesiness. So, this is a good, unpretentious piece of music. The drawback is that there's nothing artistically exciting or innovative about this. They do perform the piece very well, but this is very standard stuff. ... Well, that certainly helped this piece become a hit.

Happy Feelin' 9/10

This is more of a dance song that would have been appropriate for the disco floor. The beat is nice and quick, and conducive to dancing. The melody is very fun, and it contains some happy falsetto singing from the group. The song even features an excellent sax solo in the instrumental interlude. Maurice White also takes the opportunity to show off that African thumb piano, which he seems to love ever so much. The end of this song is extremely bizarre ... it features someone seemingly press random notes on an electric organ. Whatever.

All About Love 8.5/10

In the vein of Barry White, "All About Love" is a romantic ballad. It's starts with a pounding piano as a soulful performance is delivered. A violin track takes over. And then some "ooooh" back-up vocals. The song has a nice crescendo invovling a strangely used harp and a very loud trumpet. This song continuously threatens to turn into cheesy elevator music. But, it never does. Hm. I guess it must be a good song, then.

Yearnin' Learnin 9.5/10

Awesome! This is an absolutely *fun* piece of funk music! It's structured in the way a regular funk song would, but there's a touch of alien weirdness that keeps it interesting to me. And, I'm not exactly sure why this song is weird other than a strange warble of a vocal performance. It begins with some fun, accents of a horn section, and then a funky groove takes over. I feel like I can break out and dance to this song and not feel like an idiot!!! This is a real treat.

Reasons 9.5/10

This is a strange little song! It starts out to be a regular, straight ahead ballad. And, it works in that sense. It has a very calming, light groove played on the horns. But then, a rather disjointed rhythm starts to take effect. This track is both weird but accessible at the same time. ... That said, the primary purpose of this song is to appeal to the mass populace. But I guess Maurice White won't give into commerciality without a fight! The melody of this song is absolutely heavenly! This is largely an orchestral piece, and that does nothing but lend to the heavenliness of the track.

Africano 10/10

This one starts out with a lot of flutes playing around and then that thumb piano playing around. This isn't normal type of music for any album that hit the No. 1 spot on the pop charts, anyway. They don't do this for much longer. A funk song starts to play. Oh, and it's a tight funk song, too! Catch that groove; it's so catchy and danceable! It's not a cheap disco dance song, either. Believe me, if all disco songs were like this, then I would poop on everyone who said "Disco sucks." You almost forget that this song is technically an instrumental, but who needs voices when you're enjoying the groove so much? The sax solo is excellent!!!!!! The best way to describe this song is that it's a disco-version of jazz fusion.

See the Light 9/10

The first minute is definitely like a jazz fusion song. The fact that they tried to make a jazz fusion song into a pop song was an interesting idea, and I think it worked very well for them. This is artistically intriguing to me! We get a lot of seemingly disjointed instrumentals here that come together to create something rather bizarre. After that, it stops and we get a much more normal funk ballad. The normal part isn't as interesting to me, but it's still a very well written one with a great, catchy melody. The instrumental interlude, featuring a synthesizer, keeps the jazz fusion feel going.

Shining Star (Future Star) 9.5/10

The full version of their hit, and the only version I scored in the track listing! The groove is something that most funk bands only *wish* that they could come up with. The melody is catchy as nothing else, and so is the chorus. The instrumentation is fun and inventive, and I feel like I can dance to this song and enjoy myself. The vocal performances are also fun and indicative that they weren't taking themselves more seriously than necessary. This is a great pop single!

BONUS TRACKS

All About Love (First Impressions) - Extended Version

I thought the original was a bit boring, and the fact that this one is more than six minutes long doesn't help. Nonetheless, it really doesn't seem like it's so overkill. It's a well-written song!

Happy' Feelin' (Anatomy of a Groove)

It starts out as a lone bass groove and then the drum beat is added to it. This song sounds very stripped down that it reminds me quite a lot of a Talking Heads song! Oh yes, the Talking Heads were born out of funk, after all. This song is great if you want to hear what this band sounds like stripped down.

Caribou Chaser (Jazzy Jam)

This is the only bonus track that doesn't appear in some form in the album body. It starts out with some studio noise, which suggests to me that this was an impromptu jazz jam that they played when warming up. It's simlar to The Beatles playing "Maggie Mae" on Let it Be. It's a good song that proves how great instrumentalists these guys were, but it's inessential.

That's the Way of the World (Latin Expedition)

This is the closest thing this album actually gets to elevator music. But it's very well orchestrated elevator music, and it's less than two minutes long in the bonus tracks, so this is mostly harmless anyway.


Spirit (1976)

Read the full review:
Spirit

Getaway 10/10

It's cool that Earth, Wind & Fire don't abandon their roots to pander to the stupid disco trends of the era, and they still come out with a huge hit. This song is a fantastic and funky hit single. It would have been so easy for them to write a generic disco tune in 1976 after they already had the public attention, but it's pretty firmly established that these guys are too awesome for that. It's not really even a normal song --- this is largely a vocal song with a heavy jazz aura about it. (You get that hint right away with the scat singing from the opening bars.) Of course, the reason we're listening to this is the funk rhythms! The guitars, trumpet chords and drums are fantastic, and even nicer is the melody, which is quite catchy. This isn't even a NORMAL song, really. This isn't just a regular funk beat that plays endlessly --- the rhythms and textures change throughout the song and they have absolutely no problem coming up with new ideas to make their song sound like its on the cutting edge throughout its running length. There's nothing better than hearing a song from talented people who enjoy what they do... (For the record, this was from outside songwriters --- who must have been thrilled to hear how this sounds. All the other songs are originals, though.)

On Your Face 10/10

Two hopelessly wonderful hits in a row? What impossibly good things did I do to deserve this? This track is the sort of lightly paced funk song that you can sit back in your easy chair and soak up. This one's more soul searching and heartfelt --- naturally, it is remarkably convincing! The instrumentation is such a treat.

Imagination 8.5/10

I feel a little betrayed by the song title. This is nowhere as imaginative as the previous two tracks. That doesn't mean it isn't a good song. It's even smoother than the previous one, and it's the type of song you'd might want to listen to in the bath tub or something (I don't know why I think that). The songwriting is still enormously solid, though, and they sure know how to write a nice melody. The instrumentation is only modestly pompous. It has all the benefits of the full scale orchestra (AKA Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra) except without the excess. ...Well, I find that interesting at least. It's biggest downfall is its length. It grows stale at the end-- but only at the very end.

Spirit 7/10

I'm extremely betrayed by this song title. This song doesn't have much spirit. I guess they're probably talking about that in the "spiritual" sense instead of the "inspired" sense. It contains a nicely done and heartfelt vocal performance (with annoyingly in a falsetto voice, though --- why don't I find falsetto voices enjoyable like everyone else)? This is an artistic track, and you can't deny it that... But a snoozer.

Saturday Night 8/10

This marks the return to the upbeat funk-pop tunes and not a moment too soon! I suppose the biggest problem with it is it isn't extremely infectious. There are some nice hooks, but nothing that makes me want to listen to this again after it's through playing. Despite all that, this track is snappy and likable. They turn in some tight instrumental performances, and I like the spirited vocal performances.

Earth, Wind & Fire 7/10

Boring!!! --- Be honest, guys. I'd hope that a song about themselves would be a little more exciting and enlightening, but whatever. This is another pleasant work that's nice enough to soak up. For that reason, this is a song that's best to just listen to as background music. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, but usually these guys are capable of making me stop in my tracks and take note!! The lite-funk groove is well-written, but --- seriously guys.

Departure

They've reduced their African thumb piano to a 27-second track, and you can barely hear it. Betraying your novelty are we?

Biyo 9.5/10

Oh, freaking finally. I was wondering where my Earth, Wind & Fire went. I couldn't find them in the track called "Earth, Wind & Fire." I found them here. This is a tight and funky instrumental. Its groove is 100 percent infectious and danceable --- and I might just come out and start dancing right now! They should invent computer keyboards that allow me to dance and type at the same time. This is where the fine members of the band finally get a chance to strut their stuff. There's some very nice instrumental solos in here! The saxophone is beautiful!!!! The sci-fi edge they give to it with those synthesizers is a creative touch. Yes! Now make all your songs this creative!

Burnin' Bush 8/10

This is an epic! It's nearly seven minutes long, but they use that time mostly to their advantage. The hook is mighty, and they milk it for all it's worth. Maybe it was even worth a little bit more, and they should have taken it further. This one picks me up from the moment it starts to play and takes me along for the ride. The vocal performance has never been so soulful --- Very reminiscent of a good Stevie Wonder song. And you know comparing any song to classic Stevie Wonder isn't anything but a high compliment. The only glitch is the part around the five minute mark when they stop the inertia and it gets more sluggish and meandering. This part is tasteful in its own way, but I would have preferred something a little more THUNDEROUS. You know what I mean --- like the ending of Nashville.


All 'N All (1977)

Read the full review:
All 'N All

Serpentine Fire B

This is the sort of song that's good to start an album with. It starts quietly and eventually crescendos into this big ďPOW.Ē Then a nice mid-tempo funk song pipes up, giving us quite a catchy, poppy melody. The rhythms are very nice... Not just a simple drum beat, but a wide array of cymbals, bongos ... cowbells, maybe. That towering horn section is very well arranged, and one of the best parts of the song! It keeps it flowing wonderfully. Other than the fact that this is technically well-written, I wish it would jump out more at me and amaze like, which I know this group is capable of. But it doesn't quite get there. ...There's a very curious thing about this track. They seem to end it at the 2:40 mark, and then reprise it again repeating the same ideas for another minute in which it ends with a fade-out. Why'd they do that? The 2:40 mark was the perfect ending. I think I'm going to edit this CD!

Fantasy A-

Remember what I said in the earlier review about that song not jumping out at me? I said that because I knew that this song was going to do just that. This is the very reason I find Earth, Wind & Fire to be such a rewarding listen. That melody is not only catchy, but the way they work in those vocal harmonies for the chorus comes off as just brilliant. It's very '70s, but the '70s were cool, you know. And this really isn't such a funk song. Actually the intro is very reminiscent of a certain Alan Parsons project song! (The big thing really that's keeping this away from an A is they repeat the introduction section in the middle of the song... very very awkwardly. And after that point, they seem to try milking that melody out for all it's worth... and they get uncomfortably close to the limit. Why not go progressive and come up with a new melody??? That's not against the rules, you know...)

In the Marketplace (Interlude) B+

As you know, Maurice White was in love with the African Finger Piano and there's at least one instant of that instrument's use in every single one of their albums (previously to this... I'm not very familiar with their later albums). Here's a very simple loop he created with one. He's going for more of a Brian Eno atmospheric piece than one of those wonky jazz things he did in previous albums. It lasts only forty seconds, and it makes a nice enough of an impression.

Jupiter A-

I love this song! This is a wonderful funky song with a horn section that's making these rapid stabbing noises. It's something that you can dance to, but it's not the ordinary, trashy disco song! It's very tasteful!! Bring it to your next dance party (if you don't mind some of a '70s funk touch... but the only proper dance party has '70s funk, so... there you go). The melody is catchy, and it develops well. I can't believe I'm saying this, but my biggest criticism of ďJupiterĒ is it's far too short. Just three minutes with a really wimpy fade-out? It could have gone on for a little longer, me thinks.

Love's Holiday B

A little bit boring this time... They could have used the extra minute for this song and give it to the last one! As you might guess, this is love ballad! I don't really think the riff is that good, and they sure don't make that up with a catchy melody or anything. Though the groove is nothing but classy. Once again, while these guys have that classic '70s funk sound, but they make it as suave as it could possibly get. (Just work on those melodies!)

Brazilian Rhymes (Interludes) B-

I don't understand what's Brazilian about this. (Although to be fair, I think my only real knowledge of Brazilian music is Os Mutantes, which I'm sure is not very representative of Brazilian music!) This is a very brief tune with these guys singing in non-verbal bahs. (Not like sheep.... you know what I mean.) I have no idea why they kept this one so short... It seems like, just as it was getting started, they faded it out. One: These fade-outs, the way they're doing them, are terrible cop-outs. Two: FINISH THE SONG!!! This thing is a great introduction. But the actual song I'm getting warmed up for just never happens.

I'll Write a Song For You A-

A very, very sweet love ballad! This thing starts out very quietly with nicely plucked acoustic guitars, and White's falsetto comes in very nicely, singing a melody that's quite nice. Soon, strings come up... and it becomes pretty apparent that this isn't going to be a funk song at all! Cool idea! We don't just want to hear funk songs all the time. Then the rhythm section pops up, and the melody gets even better. It's so sappy, but I like it! Unfortunately, that more upbeat ending is much staler, and didn't do the beginning and middle justice. White's singing there sounds a little like wolf calls.

Magic Mind A

They're so close to nailing this one. The introduction is perfect... There's a slightly detached groove, and some pittering horns fade in. Then a more normal and very snappy funk groove starts, which is followed by the guys coming in with a very catchy pop melody! Making it better, the lyrics have a bit of wordplay, which captures my ears... (ďGot a dime and a rhyme / Brilliant mind still incline / In your prime to designĒ) Of course, I have no idea what any of that means, but its delivery is wonderful! Those pittering horns get a little bit crazy in the final third, but that's OK because they're playing a pretty catchy groove and I think the song is about to end, because they're fading out. ...............................But they start the freaking groove up again and fade it out. Why do they do that? It's a really terrible idea that you did twice in the same album... so far.

Runnin' A

...Geez, it's like they were anticipating everything I was thinking. Just like ďBrazilian Rhymes,Ē this thing has a similar sort of introduction with those non-verbal Bah sounds. And it's enjoyable and tuneful! That groove is beautiful, with a chord progression that's really cool... But should I get too caught up in this? The last time they had a nice introduction like this, they faded it out after a minutes...................... Ooooo! Look at the running length! Six minutes!! So this is what a finished one of these sorts of sounds sound like, and trust me it's exactly as wonderful as it was cracked up to be! The production is very progressive. The song actually develops... They use the same groove through most of this, but it's an interesting one, and it goes through a number of deviations all of which piques my interest. The best part is the middle, in which they revisit some of their jazz fusion roots... AND THAT HORN SOLO IS FRIGGIN AWESOME! IT'S INCREDIBLY EXPRESSIVE, AND IT HAS A PERSONALITY!!!!!!!!!!!! Those really rapid rhythms during this part is like South American music on crack. Those bongos and other percussion instruments with funny names are going all over the place. The chord progression is weird, too. ....... And is has a really weird ending. Speaking of Os Mutantes, one of their song ends a lot like this... It fades out as a bunch of people are talking to each other in a shop or something. ........And then the song ends. Or does it?? What the---??!?!?? Did they seriously just start up the same groove again and then fade it out? ... Not only does that ruin your perfect Os-Mutantes-like ending, but it hurts my feelings. Really, I feel betrayed that you would do this! I'm seriously going to take this through my sound editor and edit this CD, because this is just stupid. I recommend that everyone else does the same. ...Why am I writing so much? Apparently, this song won a Grammy award. I guess that organization had taste, once upon a time.

Brazilian Rhymes B

Again, there is nothing very Brazilian about this... The Brazilian stuff was in their last track! This just consists of one minute worth of these atmospheric synthesizers and some fruity flute noises and a plainly played piano. This sucks. (...sorry, I'm still a little bitter about the ending you tacked onto ďRunnin'Ē)

Be Ever Wonderful B-

They close the album with one of their weaker ballads. This is the sort of song that just exists, and doesn't threaten my mortal being (like ďRunnin'Ē) or at the very least give me a nice melody to take home with me (like ďFantasyĒ). The presentation of it was certainly done very well, though, with very flashy and polished instrumentation. There's even a few nice chord progressions that I can spot there in the beginning. I just think the bulk of the song is a little too uneventful and moves along at a snail's pace. (I also have to admit I'm a little relieved they're not singing this in those falsettos.)

BONUS TRACKS:

Would You Mind A-

So, this is actually a demo of ďLove's Holiday.Ē It's a quite a bit more charming than the actual version... The acoustic guitar, slight violin synth and the vocal melody and harmonies really suits it! ...Actually, this addition to the album is a bit of a shock!

Runnin' B

A three-minute, version of just the groove of my favorite song from the album. The piano is really awesome. If it was doing that on the studio version, then I missed it! But there was so much going on there, that I wouldn't be surprised if I missed anything. Just a bare groove isn't very interesting to me... And just like the studio version, they end this perfectly, but then they revisit that original groove and fade it out very boring-like. Don't they ever learn?

Brazilian Rhymes B-

A live version of that unfinished song that was recorded in 1980. ...All that time and they still hadn't finished it!


I Am (1979)

Read the full review:
I Am

In the Stone A-

As usual, these guys come up with an exciting, upbeat album opener! That introduction was done so well, in fact, that it gives the impression that this was going to be an epic, and vaguely progressive song. But ... all it really does is turn into a somewhat regular disco song. They've had better overall opening tracks before, of course, but this is an enjoyable funk song with a nice beat and an OK melody. Their arrangements continue to be very good and crisp. The end of the song is interesting... it devolves into a very interesting loop. You can very faintly hear that African thumb piano. Unfortunately, this groove only happens for a few seconds, and it's much too short.

Can't Let Go A-

Holy crap, that groove is so frikin' cool that I can hardly contain myself! The first minute of this song is so awesome that it gets an A+. The problem comes later on ... They just keep on with the same groove all the time, and they didn't do much to develop it that well. (There's a little interlude in the middle, but the drum beat is the same and ... it's really not that different anyway.) Surely, the song is still hella cool without bothering with little things like that, but that would've been the step they should have taken it to make a *great* song. Unfortunately, it's coolness had been terribly reduced by the time its three minutes are over.

After the Love Has Gone B+

These guys aren't having much of a problem coming up with good ideas for songs... They're just letting them slip away from them. Their penchant for song arrangements and creativity are slipping away from them! This is a light love ballad, but all they really do is repeat the same hook over and over again (though they slide in a somewhat uninteresting middle-eight section). They attempt to develop it by making it louder, and that does *something*, but not really enough to make that hook lose its power the more it is repeated...

Let Your Feelings Show A

This is much more like it! Here's a really tight funk song... This riff is so tight and awesome to hear that it reminds me a bit of The Talking Heads! Yeah, this is the sort of song that'll best appeal to nerds. These riffs are very rapid, and busy. It sounds something like a billion funk guitars are playing as well as a bongo player who was probably feeling very tired-armed. You're going to be fighting the urge to get up and dance the nerdiest dance that you can think of.

Boogie Wonderland A-

This is a groove that is commonly ripped off by almost every dance-pop act in the '90s and '00s, and I never really cared for it. But Earth, Wind & Fire's rendition is very fun to hear simply because they had a good handle on arrangements. Although despite that, I still think this has betrayed Earth, Wind & Fire's good name, because it's just a dance groove that gets repeated a lot. There's a bit of an alien edge to it ... those instrumentals sound like they're a little *too* tight, which gives it some added tension that the average disco song definitely lacks. Despite that, this song betrays Earth, Wind & Fire's good name a bit ... it's just a dance groove. Where are all the awesome/weird touches that they've been known for injecting in all their songs? Oh well, as far as dance grooves go, this is very cool.

Star B+

This is a good song... I obviously don't see as much in it as other people do, considering this is one of their most well-revered numbers of their careers. The groove is very tight (though not quite Talking-Heads-esque). The melody is OK, but I find it to be rather forgettable ... it seems like it's based on the nursery rhyme, which might explain my disinterest in the melody. Again, the instrumentation is very well done. The development is actually done better than songs like ďCan't Let GoĒ and ďBoogie Wonderland,Ē but this song doesn't quite pique my interest as much as the others. I really like that horn solo in the middle. That's no run-of-the-mill horn solo... that thing has a personality!

Wait C+

WEAK. I hold Earth, Wind and Fire to such a high standard that I had to stop myself from giving this a D or something. This is a ballad with a merely passable melody, and there's nothing about the instrumentation that interests me. They frequently do an awkward diversion in here with these horns stabbing in a goofy chord progression. It doesn't really work. This isn't that bad compared to most songs ever written in the history of the world. But if you need to take a restroom break in the middle of the album, this would be the time to do it. Three minutes is just about the right time... you'll have plenty of time to wash your hands, even!

Rock That! B

This is a disco dance instrumental that you might hear and then completely forget about it. The highish score is for the nicely constructed groove. As far as dance music goes, this is very good! It even has some development, so this is makes better listening than most dance songs. There's also a very excellent guitar solo in the middle of it... This song is fun to hear, but I miss the catchy hooks! ... Or at least the severe creativity... Also, there really is no ending to this. It's supposed to run into the following track, but there's no flow to it.

You and I B-

I do wish they had a more conclusive sounding song to end the album with, but this seems more like a routine, empty thing they would work on. This is not exactly the inspired magic that Earth, Wind & Fire had done so well in their earlier albums, that's for sure! I don't have much else to say about this other than it's a mid-tempo funk song. Been there done that, right guys?

BONUS TRACKS

Diana B+

This song opens up with a bit of a tropical flavor, but it loses that rather quickly and evolves into a very normal albeit well written pop ballad. These guys are always good for a nice melody and better-than-normal chord progression to keep things alive! This follows the general pattern of the album for being more run-of-the-mill than I'm used to them being ... with the exception of one thing. And that's those wobbly horn arrangements toward the end of the song, which are vibrant as hell!

Dirty (interlude) B

I'm getting a bit of a Michael Jackson image when I see the words ďDianaĒ and ďDirtyĒ so close to each other. This song is only a minute long groove with Sanford and Son-style harmonica, a semi-detached bass guitar (that sounds like a bullfrog) and a rapid tambourine. It's kind of weird! I would've liked to hear them extrapolate on this ... exercise those old creative juices...

Dirty (Junior's Juke) B

I'm too lazy to look it up, but this sounds like it was mixed in the '90s or '00s. The drums are a give-away as well as some of those vocal embellishments. The groove is pretty fun, though... and this doesn't sound much like the previous track. (Yeah, you still hear the harmonica!) They also had a vocal track recorded for this, apparently...


Home | F.A.Q. | Rating System | Best-to-Worst List | Links | About the Author |
Movie Reviews | Short Stories | Message Board | Contact Me

All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.