Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Earth Wind & Fire - Spirit (1976)


 

Released September 1976

Running time 36.29

After "That's The Way Of The World" finally gave Earth, Wind & Fire platinum-selling success, with their sixth album. This, their seventh studio offering, built on that success with an even better album, which in many ways, was a defining moment in their career. After so many albums searching for a defining sound, they had reached it at last. They merged funk, soul, kick-ass brass and harmonious vocals superbly and now had found the knack of writing songs with killer hooks.

TRACK LISTING

1. Getaway
2. On Your Face
3. Imagination
4. Spirit
5. Saturday Nite
6. Earth, Wind & Fire
7. Departure
8. Biyo
9. Burnin' Bush                                         

"Getaway" is an infectious funker, full of Parliament/George Clinton-style vocals as well as now typical EW&F high-pitched backing vocals and punchy brass. "On Your Face" was a delicious slice of sweet, funky, brassy soul, with Philip Bailey's vocal outstanding. This is proper groovy soul. Perfection of the genre.

"Imagination" is a piece of laid-back, romantic late-night bedtime soul with a nice little funky guitar riff underpinning it. The vocal harmonies and brass bursts are once again peerless.


"Spirit" continues in the sumptuous, heavenly soul vibe with a stately ballad. "Saturday Nite" was a hit and displays what was quickly becoming an identifiable Earth, Wind & Fire sound - gentle funk, solid bass, great vocals and horns to die for. The hook on the chorus is irresistible. "Earth, Wind & Fire", one of the only songs by a group to name themselves, is also an intoxicating slow groove. Check out that funky but subtle guitar in the background.

"Biyo" sees a return to upbeat horn-powered funk on an appealing instrumental. The group always put one or two instrumentals on their albums. "Departure", before that, was a brief, twenty-seven second interlude. "Burnin' Bush" is a very enjoyable slow burner with yet another convincing vocal and superb, impeccable backing.

One cannot analyse albums like this too much more, to be honest, it is simply pleasurable brassy soul and that's that. I have used so many superlatives in the review, but I couldn't help it, the album deserves them. Earth, Wind & Fire had now become a very impressive group, almost a genre in themselves with their particular brand of soul. Their albums were very short, though, and over before you knew it, but sometimes that isn't a bad thing, it makes an album more concentrated and less sprawling than the post-2000's seventy minute offerings.

B

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