This was one of the albums I had queued up for the next week, even before learning today of Maurice White’s passing.
For a solid decade-plus beginning in the early 1970s, Earth, Wind & Fire was on fire. The first album of theirs I bought was “That’s the Way of the World” in 1975, and I’m pretty sure that I own everything they released from that point on, through 1983’s “Electric Universe.” They were a great band, with incredible musicianship shining through on every instrument – guitar, bass, drums, percussion, and of course the incredible horn section. Perhaps their most exciting songs were those which featured White’s vocals alongside the pristine falsetto of Philip Bailey – an interplay that played to the strengths of both singers.
I bought “All ‘n All” in early 1978, and based on a listen over the past weekend, damn near wore out the grooves on the thing. It’s my favorite of theirs, featuring the great songs “Serpentine Fire,” “Fantasy,” “Jupiter” and “I’ll Write a Song For You.” But my favorite then and now remains “Love’s Holiday,” written by White with his frequent collaborator Skip Scarborough. As far as I’m concerned, it is the band’s best love ballad, surpassing even “Reasons.” As a tribute to White, I may just make it a perennial choice for the annual Valentine’s Day CD that I put together.
Christgau: B+. “Focusing soulful horns, high-tension harmonies, and rhythms and textures from many lands onto a first side that cooks throughout. Only one element is lacking. Still, unsympathetic as I am to lyrics about conquering the universe on wings of thought, they make me shake my fundament anyway.”
Here’s hoping tonight that Maurice White is shaking his fundament up in Heaven. R.I.P.