01 Jan 1970 |

Earth Wind & Fire ” Now,Then & Forever”

Earth Wind & Fire ” Now,Then & Forever”

40 years ago I was given my first EWF album as a birthday present. Ever since then I have been a fan. Eagerly anticipating every release and every concert that came into town ( as soon as I was allowed to go to concerts) Their music spoke to me on many levels . I could always find a song to fit any mood a teenager could experience. In 1975 ” That’s the Way of the World” was released. It would become my favorite album ( still plays in my car today) Their music adapted throughout the years , in the 80s they altered their sound slightly to appeal on a more commercial level , but always had a few ” presents” in there for the True fans like myself. In the late 80s Lead Singer and founder Maurice White was diagnosed with Parkinsons and stepped down. His influences could still be heard in their music and I continued to support the band at concerts and buying their material until 2005 when they released their last studio album ” Illumination” which featured collaborations with Jimmy Jam, Kenny G, Kelly Rowland ,Will I.Am and Brian McKnight It contained the track ” The Way You Move” recorded by Hip Hop Group OUTKAST and reached #1 on The Billboard Hot 100 . I thought to myself ” Real Music is Back” and imagined the Hip Hop generation somehow benefiting by being exposed to the EWF sound so prevalent in the Outkast track.

I would have to wait seven long years for another EWF studio album ( Cds and concerts would have to do for the time being ) The release of a New EWF album for me personally is an nothing short of an event. I feel like a passenger before boarding a plane destined to explore unknown and new places. Now ,Then & Forever delivered on those expectations, Throughout the years I have learned that the secret to listening to an EWF album for the first time is to select the right track , it sets and adjust your mood for the listening experience that awaits you. In this particular album ( they still call them albums,right?) it is the Classic arrangement and feel of ” Guiding Lights” this is The essence of the Earth Wind and Fire I grew up with, the breathy vocals and dreamy instrumentation ,while still maintaining a contemporary R&B feel. ” Sign On ( a duet with Phillip and the soulful Daniel ” Sky High” McClain ) ” The first track of the album , is EWF’s emotional and uplifting plea to take charge of our world’s problems. A message ever so present in their material. The signature Horn arrangements and Bailey’s falsetto lets you know who you are listening to. ” My Promise”( Co-Written by Seidah Garret ” Do You Want it Right Now ) is another up tempo track that appears to be the label’s choice as the promotional single. Not a bad choice , but I would have gambled with ” Guiding Light” and EWF’s fan base willingness to accept a ballad as their first single from the album.

” Dancefloor“is the group’s attempt at a Club hit and although ,it pops ( not quite a la “Let’s Groove” ) it gets you moving. I wouldn’t mind doing a good ,solid remix in this age of ‘ Get Lucky” pseudo-Disco acceptance. Speaking of REMIXES the Bonus tracks include an excellent and faithful version of ” Can’t Hide Love ” ( that has been around the internet for a few years ) by Masters at Work and a so-so remix of ” Shinin Star” that compliment the album very well

Other notable tracks include ” Love Is Law ” The beautiful ” Splashes” which is graced by the mystical keyboard work of one of the bands most influential members ,Larry Dunn . The production does not rely on external forces ,as is the style these days . No ” Collaborations” No guest hip Hop artists to give it more commercial ” UUUMMFF!!” Just the group’s core members and Phillips son infusing a little of today’s sound but overall keeping it PURE EWF.

DJ Alex Gutierrez

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