Maurice White – 1985
Review by RJM – Rating:Were Earth, Wind & Fire fans suffering in 1985? After all, Philip Bailey’s two solo efforts, though not spectacular, gave fans something. Suddenly, Maurice White released his only solo album (self-titled), and old fans were now convinced they hadn’t heard the last of EW&F’s music, even if it wasn’t being called that. Fortunately, Maurice went back to an older style of EW&F music and cranked out a decent album. The Starship connection continued as Maurice brought back Martin Page, the writer of «Magnetic», who assisted in EW&F’s demise with «Electric Universe».
Side one is promising. As with Philip Bailey’s first solo album «Continuation», you finally appreciate Maurice’s enormous vocal range and talent. «Maurice White» does actually represent the best of EW&F electronics up to this point, but it’s still very synthesized.
Maurice covered Ben E. King’s «Stand By Me» in an uplifting manner, and released it, but it didn’t go as far as it should have. Certainly having EW&F’s name attached to the single would have made it much more successful. Noteworthy on «Maurice White» is «Jamboree» featuring Gerald Albright on sax. The real standouts are the interlude «Sea Of Glass», the haunting «The Sleeping Flame», and Maurice’s vocal performance on the second release «I Need You», which could have ranked among EW&F’s best ballads if not for an awkward chorus.
Along those lines, «Children of Afrika» might have been a winner if not for the goofy lyrics and arrangements of its chorus («African heartbeat, oh what a dance»). The only relative losers on «Maurice White» are «Lady Is Love» (kill the bird!) and the Vaughn product, «Invitation». Incidentally, the latter represents the first appearance of guitarist Sheldon M. Reynolds in the EW&F universe.
Overall, «Maurice White» is a disappointment, but only because my expectations are so high. This was the perfect place to revisit his jazz roots; instead, there’s practically none here. Filler is once again an issue.
Note a rarely seen special-issue CD contains two additional singles, «Life» with a sax solo by Ronnie Laws and «Can’t Stop Love» (see Discography).
order of strength:
US: Sony/Legacy – re-release 2001 CK 63966
Notes: Sony/Legacy has remastered an re-released the 1985 Maurice White solo album
The bonus tracks not on the original release are: "Life"
(Freedom Mix) (:58) (Prev. unreleased), "Life" (3:57), "Adventures
Of The Heart" (Demo) (2:31) (Prev. unreleased), "Sam The Jam"
(0:19) (Prev. unreleased).