Thursday, 8 August 2019

Earth Wind & Fire - I Am (1979)

Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who need more than they get....

 

Released on 9 June 1979

Running time 37.36

This album, from 1979, saw Earth, Wind & Fire at the height of the popularity. 1977's All 'n' All had sealed the deal and they were now guaranteed chart success, for both albums and singles. Their brand of dramatic, grandiose, brassy soul/funk had captured a considerable following by now. Despite it being the era of punk and there being a disco backlash, EWF didn't suffer. They were on the radio all the time in 1979.

This is probably their most instantly appealing album. It is not an all-out disco album, though, despite the more dance-y nature of some of the tracks. It is an EWF soul/funk album that dabbles considerably in disco. It does so far more so than on any of their previous albums, though. The group have moulded their sound to meet the contemporary trend for disco. Although I liked many of the previous albums, this one is probably my favourite. It is certainly their most overtly commercial.

TRACK LISTING

1. In The Stone
2. Can't Let Go
3. After The Love Has Gone
4. Let Your Feelings Show
5. Boogie Wonderland
6. Star
7. Wait
8. Rock That
9. You And I                                                     

In The Stone starts like a late seventies soundtrack to a movie before that typical EWF funk kicks in. The group had definitely found their groove by now and you knew what to expect from them - funk riffs, punchy brass, great orchestration and superb soul harmonies. Can't Let Go is an upbeat, ebullient slice of disco soul, with killer vocals and a captivating brassy rhythm. Everybody knows the sweet, sumptuous soul of the "end of the night" smoocher After The Love Has Gone by now. It is a wonderful song. It still sounds just as good today. Check out that saxophone at the end.


Let Your Feelings Show is a big production number with that funky disco guitar driving it along, almost Doobie Brothers in style, as is the vocal too. Listen to that funky guitar at 3:25. Boogie Wonderland, with The Emotions, was a huge disco hit, and indeed, is often chosen as the classic example of the disco genre. It is vibrant, energetic and intoxicating from the very first note. You can't help but feel better listening to it. Those horns, those vocals. Oh man. It is impossible to dislike.

There are no short instrumental interludes on this album, as had characterised their previous two offerings, it is substantial tracks from beginning to end. the hits keep on coming with the sublime brassy groove of Star. It is packed full of seductive backing and seriously good vocals. This is a seriously good song. Wait slows down the pace a bit with a lovely brass-powered soul ballad. Rock That is a short but punchy soundtrack-style instrumental, with the brass again to the fore and some buzzy rock guitar too. It merges straight into the more typical EWF laid-back harmonious, jazzy soul of You And I.

This was Earth, Wind & Fire at their commercial best. Having finally found a formula, this album exploited it to the full.

B+