I Am – 1978
Produced by Maurice White for Kalimba Productions
Arranged by Maurice White, Thomas Washington, Jerry Hey, David Foster, and Ben Wright

Review by RJM

I Am1979’s album, «I Am», was a landmark for Earth, Wind & Fire – their «Abbey Road» as bassist Verdine White would put it – and most commercial effort to date. It spawned the monster single «Boogie Wonderland» and the legendary «After The Love Has Gone», each of which cracked the top ten pop. «After The Love Has Gone» netted them yet another Grammy.

The sound on «I Am» is highly refined and sophisticated. The production is flawless. You hear those typical EWF guitar tracks everywhere, and their hot percussion on «Let Your Feelings Show» and «In The Stone».

«I Am» starts strongly on the first three cuts. The beginning of «In The Stone» is epic EWF. «Can’t Let Go» is worth mentioning; it really moves. Things cool off, however, after «After The Love Has Gone». «I Am» picks up at the end with the orchestration of the fusion cut «Rock That!», and the standout single «You And I». The subsequent CD reissue lengthened the latter cut by 35 seconds compared to the original LP release.

In spite of the fact «Boogie Wonderland» is true disco (standing head and shoulders above the popular disco of the time), the rest of «I Am» is definitely not a sellout. However, as good as it is, it isn’t nearly as innovative as their last complete work, 1977’s «All-n-All». It was a turning point for EWF which can be summed up in two words: David Foster. This commercial studio musician’s name appeared in all but three of the songwriting credits, a departure from an EWF forte of writing and playing their own material. In retrospect, this was the first real indication EWF had peaked, though obscured by the strength of «I Am».


Tracks in order of strength:
1. After The Love Has Gone
2. Rock That!
3. You And I
4. Can’t Let Go
5. In The Stone
…and the rest:
6. Boogie Wonderland
7. Wait
8. Star
9. Let Your Feelings Show

Total playing time: 37:09
US: Columbia 35730
EUR: Columbia 86084
JAP: Sony SRCS 6115
JPN: Sony MHCP-295 (Remastered 2004)

Gunnar Homdrum 1996 © 2005