Street Sounds: Earth, Wind & Fire keep groovin’

Review of Earth Wind and Fire's 21st album, Now, Then and Forever,

The Egyptian falcon motif staring out from the cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s 21st album, Now, Then and Forever, could suggest resurrection or continuation.

And it does, sort of…  The group’s first recording in eight years is a continuation or throwback to their late-‘70s heyday: a bright, heady mix of funk, soul, and fusion pop and disco with emphasis on the latter.

Love is Law, the swooning horn driven dance track single, seems to echo from Studio 54.

Known for vibrant and slick recordings and elaborate stage shows (rivalled only by Parliament/Funkadelic) Earth, Wind and Fire’s disco-friendly vibe is in vogue again, courtesy of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. But lest the D-word raise a red flag amongst veterans of the ‘70s disco wars, one should recall burning tracks like the hard funk of Shining Star rather than fixate on Boogie Wonderland.

The band’s forward looking use of horns, jazz, friendly guitar textures and sinuous bass lines elevate the music still, as heard on the high reaching track, Guiding Lights. And then there’s the vocals: Philip Bailey’s falsetto is capable of wailing, laser beam sounds that stretch like synthesized notes.  He declaims in front of ensemble singers, going from celestial to sultry with an offhand elegance.  (Got To Be Love).

Earth Wind and Fire is slick but not in a shallow, show-off kind of way. With the counter rhythms and textures in the arrangements, things must make sense.

They pull off a deep range of moods. There’s smiley, happy disco on My Promise, shifting robotic funk on Dance Floor, fusion (Splashes) and off beat, lush instrumentals (Belo Horizonte). As well, Afro-Cuban sensibilities move through their sound (The Rush).

Honourable mention goes to Verdine White, bassist extraordinaire. As with the other, original members, vocalist Bailey and percussionist/singer Ralph Johnson, they hold together a big sounding group while pressing forward from their roots.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music for The Morning Star every Friday.

Just Posted

Haunted happenings revealed with Vernon ghost tours

Two unique versions of ghost tours offered

Dress your best for string octet’s Vernon performance

NOCCA opens season with gala evening

Famous Forgeries featured in Vernon art show

Okanagan Artists of Canada prepare for 75th anniversary with 75-year-old art

Website names SilverStar No. 4 most affordable ski hill

HomeToGo looks at rentals, lift passes, accommodations and food to compile list of Top 50

Vernon loves their butter chicken: SkipTheDishes

Delivery app releases 2019 stats for most popular Vernon food orders

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Okanagan man killed in head-on collision on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Police say 21-year-old died at scene after pickup truck collided with transport trailer

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read