Spirit – 1976
Produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney for Kalimba Productions
Arranged by EWF and Charles Stepney

Review by RJM – Rating:

Spirit«Spirit» was another big score, but it finally revealed weaknesses. EWF displayed less originality here, a problem which would resurface in the future. «Spirit» tried too hard to be another «That’s The Way Of The World», and thus represents merely a refinement of the sound on that landmark album. It was considered a disappointment by critics at the time, mostly because it was compared to «That’s The Way Of The World». Even years later it was viewed as a mini-slump. (It’s interesting to note the revisionists now claim «Spirit» was and is among EWF’s very best work.)

The first single «Getaway» with its percussion, powerful orchestral punctuation, and mind-numbing notes on the piano break, was certainly innovative. However, the second release, «Saturday Nite», tried to cash in on the «Shining Star» phenomenon. Neither climbed as high as «Shining Star» or even «Singasong» on the pop charts. Still, «Spirit» has plenty of excellent moments, such as the memorable gospel of the title track, and Maurice White’s powerful vocal performance on «Burnin’ Bush». Philip Bailey stretches out at the end of «Imagination». The rest of the album, especially the upbeat «On Your Face», is very good, and much more even than «That’s The Way Of The World».

In the early 1980’s, the «Spirit» LP was reissued with a significantly different remastering of the first three cuts. It’s worth looking for if you can stand the snap, crackle and pop of LP’s. The subsequent CD reissue was of the original album.

EWF took a major blow when Brother Charles Stepney died in the midst of recording «Spirit»; subsequently, their music was never the same.


Tracks in order of strength:
1. Getaway
2. Burnin’ Bush
3. On Your Face
4. Biyo
5. Imagination
6. Saturday Nite
7. Spirit
8. Earth, Wind & Fire
…and the rest:
9. Departure (Full)

Original total playing time: 36:29
US: Columbia 34241
EUR: Columbia 465570-2
JAP: Sony SRCS 6113

Columbia/Legacy has digitally remastered and will re-release the album (April 2001) with 5 additional tracks: "Saturday Nite" (Alternate Mix) (4:54), "Seraphim" (2:07), "Imagination" (Angels Mix) (1:03), 
"Departure (The Traveler)" (3:37) and "African Symphony" (1:52)

Gunnar Homdrum 1996 © 2005