There’s no argument that Earth Wind & Fire were a great band with a great live act with a great catalogue of albums so you know that the latest The Greatest Hits compilation is great to say the least.
You’ll have spotted that the might Earth Wind & Fire are in the UK this month as part of their European tour to celebrate 40 years of Earth Wind & Fire. These guys reached their dancefloor peak in the 80s and these 17 tracks come from the boogie wonderland period.
As Arsenal midfield legend Tony Adams said of the first record he ever bought (Let’s Groove) in a record shop in Dagenham High Street, “These guys had a groove”. And that’s the opening track that gets the party started as it would have all those years ago in ever night club from Southend to Blackpool and Paignton to Inverness: just tell the DJ to play your favourite tune – alright!
And if that doesn’t get your boogie on down going, there’s ‘Boogie Wonderland’, ‘September’, ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Star’ hitting you one after another. Big band, big horns, big funk, big sing-a-long lyrics, big backing vocals and big groove it’s no surprise that they dominated the charts on every release.
If you’ve no idea what a slow dance was (a concept that doesn’t exist anymore), I can tell you that perversely (on the lyrical content) ‘After The Love Has Gone’ is pure class with a suitably cheesy sax solo.
Some tracks that you might have forgot how good they were are ‘Saturday Nite’ (although I never did like that gratuitous “London Bridge is falling down” and other nursery tune lines), ‘I’ve Had Enough’ and ‘Let Me Talk’ stands up both musically and lyrically to the rest of these greatest hits.
There was always a bit of the spiritual cosmos elements about Earth Wind & Fire and tracks like ‘Star’, ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Shining Star’ are the essence of classic. I suppose you can add ‘In The Stone’ to that that’s got their percussive groove and sing a long go-go down to a T and you can’t forget ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ or the original “Morning Glory” of the story telling ‘Serpentine Fire’.
So, who could resist EW&F? O.K. the trouble with Earth Wind & Fire for a Soul-Jazz boy was that they were just as good as a non-chart jazzy outfit. So by the time they were getting commercial sales, you can hear original fans (even now) say of their ‘disco’ period, “Sell out”.
Thankfully, we’ve grown up since then and we can enjoy this one for all the brilliance that it contains in all respects whether it be the super slick production, song writing, performance or any other aspect (although the cover is no Faces).
And just to show how cool I am, this months’ Jazz Chronicles session featured Ramsey Lewis’ version of ‘Reasons’ followed by the original EW&F track that ends the CD (but then I couldn’t resist playing ‘Jupiter’ either as my favourites on here).
So it’s been 40 years and whilst there’s been many imitators, none got close to the originals. Can they really live until the 12th of never? Their music certainly will as it’s fantastic Soul – Jazz – Funk – Disco – Pop fantasy – stars all of them, they are immortal as “It’s written in the stone”.
And on the tour, Earth, Wind & Fire featuring original members Verdine White (bass), Philip Bailey (lead vocals) and Ralph Johnson (drums) will undertake a 3 date tour this month:
Manchester MEN Arena (Tues 20th July)
Birmingham NIA (Wed 21st July)
London O2 Arena (Thurs 22nd July)
Hectic’s Mix Selection – all but you’ve gotta end on ‘After The Love Has Gone’.
Reviewed: Earth Wind & Fire – The Greatest Hits (Sony Music) Cat. No. Release date: 19th July 2010
1. Let’s Groove (5:36)
2. Boogie Wonderland (4:47)
3. September (3:34)
4. After The Love Has Gone (4:24)
5. Fantasy (3:42)
6. Star (4:20)
7. Saturday Nite (4:02)
8. Let Me Talk (4:06)
9. I’ve Had Enough (4:28)
10. In The Stone (4:25)
11. Can’t Let Go (3:27)
12. Jupiter (3:11)
13. Got To Get You Into My Life (4:09)
14. Shining Star (2:50)
15. Serpentine Fire (3:50)
16. That’s The Way Of The World (5:43)
17. Reasons (5:01)
Jazz Chronicles with Simon S and Gerry Hectic Saturday 3 July 2010 at 3:00pm @ Sixty Million Postcards
www.myspace.com/60millionpostcards Jazz Chronicles Saturday 14th August 2010 at 3:00pm @ Sixty Million Postcards
Desert Island Discs – Tony Adams tracklist at http://wscdn.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00st439