By RJM, January 19th – 1998

Earth Wind & Fire has been called "The Black Beatles", and rightfully so. What 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 EWF 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. EWF 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 EWF. 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 EWF 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 "EWF-jazz", but this would grow tiresome.

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 (six 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…


Get this album! Now!
Gratitude – 1975
All’n All – 1977

Excellent +
Open Our Eyes – 1974
Philip Bailey: Dreams – 1999

Head to the Sky – 1973
Spirit – 1976
That’s the Way of the World – 1975
I Am – 1979

The Promise – 2003

Very Good +
Millennium – 1993

Very Good
Faces – 1980 
Maurice White – 1985 
Touch the World – 1987
Philip Bailey – 1994
Greatest Hits Live – 1996

In the Name of Love – 1997

Good +
Earth, Wind & Fire – 1971
Raise! – 1981 
Powerlight – 1983 
Bailey: Chinese Wall – 1984

Bailey: Continuation – 1983 
Bailey: Inside Out – 1986 
Bailey: Life And Love – 1998 

Fair + (this is EWF, after all)
The Need of Love – 1971
Last Days and Time – 1972 
Electric Universe – 1983
Heritage – 1989


Gunnar Homdrum 1996 © 2005