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 the Earth, Wind & Fire experience

By RJM - 1998

Earth Wind & Fire has been called "The Black Beatles", and rightfully so. What sets them apart from The Commodores and Kool & The Gang -- their biggest contemporary rivals -- is their enormous vocal talent and the quality of their music.

Why would I spend so much time reviewing EWF albums? I felt that the need existed. I find other reviews where people apparently take a stack of albums home over the weekend to be cynicism and not criticism. The numerous spelling errors and singles attributed to the wrong album that I come across indicate a lack of care. EWF reviews deserve better and more in depth treatment.   Nonetheless, my ratings don't vary enormously from the overall critical consensus, since I certainly ain't no music critic or musician. These reviews weren't conceived in a vacuum. They come from years of devouring all information concerning EWF. They are a selective compilation of opinion, including my own.

Please don't get bent out of shape about my sometimes stinging criticism. I don't think that these would be legitimate reviews otherwise. Also, try to appreciate my use of language. For example, some purists could make the argument that EWF really doesn't play jazz, hence it is inaccurate to refer to some of their work as jazz. I suppose I could repeatedly use a phrase like "EWF-jazz", but this would grow tiresome.

Chronology is important. Besides the obvious things, I measure quality in terms of innovation, and that requires chronological and historical context. Also, I have decided to include the main solo work in my reviews (six albums by Philip Bailey, and one by Maurice White). However, I have decided to not include Philip Bailey's four gospel albums, since I don't feel qualified to offer a valid opinion on these.  A main source of factual information, like American chart positions, comes from the essential "The Eternal Dance" booklet. 

So on this day, honoring the birthday of the great American and humanitarian Dr. Martin Luther King, I give you these products of tribute to the elements of the universe, Earth, Wind & Fire...