Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Earth, Wind & Fire - All 'N' All (1977)
Released November 1977
Recorded in Burbank, California
This album has a strong case to be the quintessential Earth, Wind & Fire album, one which saw this multi-talented funk/soul group at the peak of their powers. It is a album full of soul/funk classics and joined together by some short instrumental interludes derived from “world music”, in this case the sound of Brazil. Along with a fascination with ancient Egypt (look at this album’s cover), founder member Maurice White also loved the ethnic sounds of Brazil. They influence this album considerably in some of its instrumentation and samba-style grooves.
The album kicks off with the sublime, horn-driven upbeat and classy, laid-back, slick funk of “Serpentine Fire”. In so many ways this song is classic Earth, Wind & Fire. Up next is even more of a classic, I guess, the sumptuous intoxicating, infectious “Fantasy”. It has it all, singalong refrains, catchy grooves, great brass, funky backing, wonderful vocals. Before the cookin’ funk of “Jupiter” we get an interlude of world music sounds for a short while. Then “Jupiter” bursts in, the brass pumping, the funky guitar driving it along and then there are the Stevie Wonder-style vocals taking the song to a higher level.
“Love’s Holiday” is one of those super-smooth pieces of late-night soul the group did so well. Sumptuous. The next interlude, “Beijo” actually ends too soon, just as its wonderful bass rhythm is getting going and some guitar arrives, it is over and into the tender, acoustic soul of “I’ll Write A Song For You”. The song is very Marvin Gaye/Motown ballad-influenced. The funk is back with “Magic Mind”, possibly the funkiest cut on the album.
“Runnin’” is a funky, jazzy work out with occasional “ba-ba-ba” backing vocals and some seriously impressive trumpet along with a hypnotic bass line. The final interlude segues into the saxophone intro of the soulful ballad “Be Ever Wonderful”. It is a track full of perfectly harmonious vocals and supreme brass, bass and orchestration backing. Check out the amount of musicians used on this album, there are so many.
The album is over almost before you’ve realised. It is a beautifully vibrant, lively and also soulful album. Very representative of the best of the late seventies, soul-wise.