Powerlight – 1983
Review by RJM – Rating:1982 was a troubling time for many Earth, Wind & Fire fans, after the previous year’s commercial effort «Raise!». Instead of their typical annual release, a new single appeared late in the year. Though a direct rip-off of «Let’s Groove», «Fall In Love With Me» was more sophisticated and refined, making the top twenty pop. Finally, in early 1983, «Powerlight» was released, and went only gold though it was better than the constantly clapping «Raise!». «Fall In Love With Me» was repackaged and given its own identity by adding the prelude «Mizar» and another spectacular Roland Bautista guitar solo. (Can anyone tell me how many different notes he plays from 4:52 to 4:56!?!)
With «Powerlight», EW&F hadn’t gone totally commercial, and hadn’t gone in the direction indicated by «The Changing Times» on «Raise!», but it was clear they were losing momentum. It tried to ride the wave of popularity of «Raise!», but simply could not.
The electronic trend continued on «Powerlight» with lots of synthesizers. This work does sound like the transition between acoustic and electronic when you consider what came before and after. It is more diverse than «Raise!», but must also be considered dance music with fairly consistent tempo and chords.
The rest of the album is non-offensive – «Speed Of Love» has its moments. (Who’s this Bonita Love with whom Maurice is living?) «Side by Side» starts in a promising fashion, but then becomes ordinary. Noteworthy on «Side By Side» and «Spread Your Love» is the steel drum of Robert Greenidge, who also appeared on 1980’s «Just The Two Of Us» by Grover Washington, Jr.
The standouts on «Powerlight» are «Straight From The Heart» with its non-routine vocal arrangements, and Maurice White’s lead performance on the «Wanna Be With You» clone titled «Something Special». «Miracles» is really nice, but please fade out by 3:57 to keep from subjecting yourself to the out-of-tune children’s choir at the end. The rest can be described as unamazing.
order of strength:
Total playing time: 41:23