By RJM, January
19th – 1998
Wind & Fire has been called "The Black Beatles", and rightfully so.
sets them apart from The Commodores and Kool & The Gang, their biggest contemporary
rivals, is their enormous vocal talent and the quality of their music.
Why would I spend so much time reviewing EW&F albums? I felt that the need existed. I
find other reviews where people apparently take a stack of albums home over the weekend to
be cynicism and not criticism. The numerous spelling errors and singles attributed to the
wrong album that I come across indicate a lack of care. EW&F reviews deserve better
and more in depth treatment. Nonetheless, my ratings don’t vary enormously from the
overall critical consensus, since I certainly ain’t no music critic or musician. These
reviews weren’t conceived in a vacuum. They come from years of devouring all information
concerning EW&F. They are a selective compilation of opinion, including my own.
Please don’t get bent out of shape about my sometimes stinging criticism. I don’t think
that these would be legitimate reviews otherwise. Also, try to appreciate my use of
language. For example, some purists could make the argument that EW&F really doesn’t
play jazz, hence it is inaccurate to refer to some of their work as jazz. I suppose I
could repeatedly use a phrase like "EW&F-jazz", but this would grow
Chronology is important. Besides the obvious things, I measure quality in terms of
innovation, and that requires chronological and historical context. Also, I have decided
to include the main solo work in my reviews (five albums by Philip Bailey, and one by
Maurice White). However, I have decided to not include Philip Bailey’s four gospel albums,
since I don’t feel qualified to offer a valid opinion on these. A main source of
factual information, like American chart positions, comes from the essential "The
Eternal Dance" booklet.
So on this day, honoring the birthday of the great American and humanitarian Dr. Martin
Luther King, I give you these products of tribute to the elements of the universe, Earth,
Wind & Fire.