Gratitude – 1975
Live tracks produced by Maurice White and Joe Wissert for EWF Productions
Arranged by EWF
Studio tracks produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney for EWF Productions
Arranged by EWF

Review by RJM – Rating:

GratitudeEarth, Wind & Fire was flying high in 1975 after releasing «That’s The Way Of The World» early in the year, and Columbia wanted more and fast. As a result of Maurice White’s taping of live shows, the outstanding double LP «Gratitude» was released in late 1975, representing EWF’s high-water mark. Significantly, «Gratitude», though released so soon after «That’s The Way Of The World», forged it’s own identity. 

This reviewer is biased towards jazz, which is what clearly sets EWF apart from Black pop. «Gratitude» contains more jazz (all live cuts) than any other offering from EWF. Fusion was in full force as demonstrated by the red-hot «Power/Africano Medley» (which even got the homeboys breakin’), and their own take of «Sun Goddess». Then there’s the awesome «New World Symphony», featuring guitarist Johnny Graham on the wah-wah, Michael Harris on trumpet, and Verdine White on bass. 

More high points of «Gratitude» are the live versions of «Devotion» and «Reasons», the latter with the now legendary collaboration of Philip Bailey with saxist Don Myrick. All the live cuts differ significantly from the studio originals, showing how their music, especially their jazz, constantly evolves. 

«Gratitude» certainly captured the high energy of their live performances, but there’s a lot more here. Five decent to excellent studio tracks were included, such as the title cut, the merry (and their first real) dance track «Singasong», the joyous «Sunshine» and the soulful «Can’t Hide Love». Though «Singasong» scored by reaching #5 pop, one has to wonder why great music like «Can’t Hide Love» barely cracked the top 40 at a time when EWF was blazing-hot. Oh, well. 

The only weak link on «Gratitude» is the ineffective live «Shining Star», which EWF unfortunately decided to speed up and lengthen. You have to be careful when you tinker with an institution. I guess there’s no such thing as absolute perfection, but this is as close as EWF came.


Tracks in order of strength:
1. New World Symphony
2. Power/Africano Medley
3. Can’t Hide Love
4. Sunshine
5. Reasons
6. Sun Goddess
7. Devotion
8. Gratitude
9. Singasong
…and the rest:
10. Yearnin’ Learnin’
11. Celebrate
12. Shining Star

Original total playing time: 66:22
US: Columbia 33694
US: LP Columbia PG 33694 – gatefold / 2 lp’s
EUR: Columbia 466843-2
JAP: Sony SRCS 6112

Columbia/Legacy has re-released and digitally remastered the album with 1 additional track: 
Live medley "Serpentine Fire/Saturday Nite/Can’t Hide Love/Reasons" (6:14)

From Daniele Minotti in Rapallo, Italy. Here’s a little trick you might wanna check out on Gratitude.
1. LP
Put (with care) your precious vinyl on the turntable. Put your (light) pick-up into a groove just before Sunshine (side 3). Look close and can see the (small) track on the record. Try to reverse-play in a DJ’s style (don’t scratch, please). Lock your hand to a speed of 33 rpm, possibly with a quartz system… And yeah!!! You will discover the final chorus of Can’t Hide Love (only voices).
2. CD
If you have a pro CD player, you can try with the manual jog-shuttle or with an automatic reverse-play feature. If you have a normal CD set, try to sample the right part (in my CD 9’26" to 9’40" single track no. 8 – New World Symphony timing) with your PC’s soundcard or other sampler. Now, – probably, you’ll have a *.wav file ready to reverse-play with your software (or hardware sampler).

Gunnar Homdrum 1996 © 2005