Last Days And Time – 1972
Review by RJM – Rating:The 1971 Warner albums «Earth, Wind & Fire» and «The Need Of Love» did not bring fame and success to Maurice White. The 1972 Columbia album «Last Days And Time» saw the addition of Larry Dunn, Ralph Johnson, and others, but most notably, co-lead singer Philip Bailey. This version of EWF, which is the basic form of the most famous incarnation of the band, was noticeably different. It causes me to feel less ambivalence towards «Last Days And Time» compared to the Warner releases. In a sense, this rebirth represents a second debut. It would take time for the pieces to come together.
Philip Bailey brought his «pop-sensibilities» (i.e., commercialism) to EWF. It took the initial form of two nauseating covers, «Where Have All The Flowers Gone?» (by far the weakest EWF cut ever), and «Make It With You». «Last Days And Time» is a step up from Warner because of the flawless guitar work of new member Roland Bautista. Of mild interest here is the Latin touch of «Remember The Children», «Time Is On Your Side» and «Mom», probably brought to EWF by Bautista. «Last Days And Time» marked the first appearance of limited orchestration on a few of the cuts which would all but disappear until 1975.
The clear standout on «Last Days And Time» is the modern EWF-sounding «Power», by far their best cut to this point. «Power» featured the flute and sax work of Ronnie Laws (brother of jazz great Hubert), and clearly showed EWF could move with the big boys of fusion when they so pleased. «Power» doesn’t bore you with excessively long solos; it keeps moving forward. It’s a definite attention grabber.
The rest of «Last Days And Time», however, does not attract attention, and the material here is ordinary. The drop-off is severe after «Power». While their voices were proficient and their playing showed they were excellent musicians (like on «Mom»), EWF still hadn’t ironed out their vocal and horn arrangements. The horns still blared, and it detracted from the otherwise increasing smoothness of the production.
After «Last Days And Time», more personnel changes occurred, but not nearly as drastic as the first retooling. Unfortunately, the excellent musicians Ronnie Laws and Roland Bautista split to pursue solo careers.
order of strength:
Total playing time: 39:50