Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Earth Wind & Fire - Open Our Eyes (1974)

Fair but so uncool....

  

Released March 1974

This was the album that finally stared to break it big for Earth, Wind & Fire. Vocalist Jessica Cleaves had left and they now had an all-male line-up, not that it particularly affected the sound. They just seemed to ease from being a cult band to a far more popular one. The album seems just slightly more focused in its mix of funky soul with slight jazz influences. The sound quality is improving as well, just slightly, not that it was bad, but it seems a bit warmer and bassier on this one.

TRACK LISTING

1. Mighty Mighty
2. Devotion
3. Fair But So Uncool
4. Feelin' Blue
5. Kalimba Story
6. Drum Song
7. Tee Nine Chee Bit
8. Spasmodic Movements
9. Rabbit Seed
10. Caribou
11. Open Our Eyes                                          

Mighty Mighty is a Parliament/Funkadelic-style punchy funker. Devotion is a melodic, laid-back soul ballad, with some lovely harmonious vocals. Fair But So Uncool is an excellent funky groover. It is full of intoxicating rhythm too. Feelin' Blue is also overflowing with samba-influenced rhythm and some funky, jazzy keyboard riffing in the middle. You get the feeling EW&F are finding their identity here. The foundations of later material can be clearly detected on these tracks.


Kalimba's Story is a lively, upbeat piece of funky soul with a catchiness that their material had sometimes lacked on previous albums. Both the funky instrumental Drum Song and the strangely titled Tee Nine Chee Bit are loaded with bassy, funky appeal. This is the first EW&F album that is having consistently addictive tracks and feels as if it has some sort of structure. While the others had good parts, there was a patchiness to them.

Spasmodic Movements is a jaunty piece of jazz that sits a little incongruously among the funk but it doesn't stop it being most infectious. Rabbit Seed is a pointless thirty second interlude, the like of which the group often put on their albums. Caribou is another samba groove featuring Brazilian-style "ba-ba-ba" backing vocals. Open Your Eyes ends the album with a harmonious slow ballad. The album has fizzled out just a bit, it has to be said, but it still the group's best one thus far.

C+