Open Our Eyes – 1974
Produced by Maurice White, Joe Wissert and Charles Stepney for EWF Productions
Arranged by EWF and Charles Stepney

Review by RJM – Rating:

Open Our EyesIt all came together for Earth, Wind & Fire on their 1974 release «Open Our Eyes», their first platinum album and best offering to date. The consistently strong «Open Our Eyes» is one of EWF’s three best works, albeit more raw and less polished than its successors. The horn arrangements are still not there except for the lead cut, and there’s no orchestration. However, the synthesizers and amplifiers are turned way down compared to the preceeding «Head To The Sky», making «Open Our Eyes» a less distorted, cleaner sounding album.

The music is remarkably diverse, from gospel to funk to R&B to jazz to fusion to African to soul. Brother Charles Stepney and Maurice White virtually took over the arranging and producing. Saying this work won’t put you to sleep is quite an understatement. The only dents in the armor are the silly lyrics of «Kalimba Story», and the weak vocal arrangements in «Caribou». Otherwise, «Open Our Eyes» is flawless.

Essential to mention are the fast and hard funk of «Mighty, Mighty» (their first single to break the pop top 20), where Philip Bailey finally showed his vocal capabilities, and the moving gospel of «Devotion». Also noteworthy is the bop «Spasmodic Movements», the fusion «Caribou», the African influenced fusion «Drum Song», the soulful «Fair But So Uncool», and the pop-R&B «Feelin’ Blue». «Tee Nine Chee Bit» is funky and lots of fun, sort of a forerunner to rap. «Open Our Eyes» ends strongly on the beautiful prayer which is the title track. There’s very little not to like here.

Later in 1974, EWF teamed up with Maurice White’s old friend Ramsey Lewis, and the result was the magnificent «Sun Goddess». This true indication of greatness was written, arranged, and produced by Maurice White for Earth, Wind & Fire productions, and features most of EWF. In fact, it’s hard to not consider this EWF since Ramsey Lewis is the only performer on «Sun Goddess» who wasn’t concurrently a member of the band. The decent Ramsey Lewis «Sun Goddess» CD is available, though only one other cut, «Hot Dawghit» features and sounds like EWF.

It was now clear that EWF’s time had come, and it turns out they were on the verge of hitting the upper atmosphere.


Tracks in order of strength:
1. Mighty, Mighty
2. Spasmodic Movements
3. Open Our Eyes
4. Drum Song
5. Devotion
6. Feelin’ Blue
7. Fair But So Uncool
8. Tee Nine Chee Bit
9. Caribou
…and the rest
10. Kalimba Story

Total playing time: 39:52 
US: Columbia 32712
JAP: Sony SRCS 6110

Columbia/Legacy has digitally remastered the album (April 2001) with 4 additional tracks:
"Ain’t No Harm To Moan (Slave Song)" (5:21), "Fair But So Uncool" (Walkin’ In N’Awlins Mix) (3:27),
 "Step’s Tune" (2:33) and "Dreams" (3:23)

Gunnar Homdrum 1996 © 2005