The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. 1

Earth, Wind & Fire

Columbia / Legacy Records, 1978

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Growing up in the '70s, I was exposed to a lot of music that has stuck with me throughout my adult life. I can still remember riding with my dad when he'd have to go into the office at night; we'd be driving home from Lincolnwood, and Don McLean's song "Vincent" would be on the radio, soothing both of us. I can still remember when "Sirius / Eye In The Sky" was not the introduction music for the Chicago Bulls (as well as the music that introduced the bridal party at my wedding), but was a bonifide hit for the Alan Parsons Project.

And then, there's Earth, Wind & Fire. While I don't claim to be any great historian of this band, Maurice White and crew provided me with some wonderful memories while I was a child. Songs like "September" provided a pleasant kick in my day musically, and I looked forward to hearing some of these songs as I'd tune in the radio at night.

Their 1978 compilation The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. I was recently remastered and re-released, including a new mix of the band's hits for the dance crowd of the upcoming millenium. While you might not recognize every single song on this disc, it is an enjoyable collection that sounds as fresh today as it did in the '70s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

White and his band of musicians (which included Phillip Bailey for a time) were an interesting combination. They were danceable, yet they were not disco. (At least, they were not disco until "Boogie Wonderland," which is not on this collection except for snippets in "Megamix 2000" and "Megamix (Radio Edit)".) They were soulful, yet they were not pure r&b. They were a musical melting pot that welcomed fans of all different styles and genres into the same dimension.

And, brother, what a dimension it was. From the opening track, their version of "Got To Get You Into My Life" from the putrid Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film, White and crew inject a layer of funk that even Lennon and McCartney couldn't have dreamed of when they first recorded this track. (To be fair, the song had a bit of funkiness to it originally; it just got kicked into overdrive by EW&F.)

Earth, Wind & Fire keep things going on a more happy keel with tracks like "Shining Star" (which I'm embarassed to admit I don't remember hearing on the radio during its glory days) and "September" (a track you'll instantly remember once the verses kick in. If this album had stopped on these three tracks alone, I would have been happy.

But White and crew show their talents stretch to the world of ballads with songs like "That's The Way Of The World," another song I remember hearing a lot of on the radio as a child. This, too, has a bit of funk in it, though the emphasis is more on the gentle groove than making it good and stinky.

The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. I includes some songs that might not be as familiar to listeners, such as "Fantasy," "Love Music" and "Reasons," all of which are just as worthy of your time as the more familiar tracks.

New to this collection are two versions of "Megamix," a track that does a cut-and-paste of many of the band's hits to a solid bass beat. Normally, I'm not too fond of gimmicks like this, but the tracks are so well done that both the long and short versions of "Megamix" were songs I found myself going back to. (Be all this as it may, I'm surprised that there were no previously unreleased tracks included on this disc, as seems to be the craze these days.)

You may remember me stating at the start of this review that I'm no expert on Earth, Wind & Fire. I only have a few of their albums in the Pierce Memorial Archive, and many of those are awaiting spins on the turntable. But The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. I is a disc that not only has me interested in the albums I do own, but will probably find me purchasing more of their albums very soon. Chances are, this disc will inspire you as well.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia / Legacy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.