Earth, Wind & Fire formed in 1970 as a Chicago band playing a vast cross section of genres including R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin, and African. The music found is both innovative and precise. Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Fred White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay and Andrew Woolfolk came together to create a sound that changed the face of black pop music forever.
The multiple award winning band was known for their dynamic horn section, stage shows and contrasting vocals of Philip Bailey and Maurice White. This hit making operation had string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s which resulted in huge recognition for their talent from multiple industry organizations.
As I listen to All ‘n’ All right now for the first time after so many decades, I am hard pressed to explain how I dismissed this band so off hand as just another funky disco band with a few good songs but not relevant to any music I was interested in writing nor listening to at all. Sometimes it is good to revisit choices made and realize that maybe I should have been tolerant enough to given a thing or two more time and consideration. This is one of these moments for me.
This eighth studio album released in 1977 is one of their more popular albums. Listening now, I can easily see why. The harmonies of I’ll Write A Song and so many others with the very tight musical backdrop reveal a band whose vast talent I was completely wrong in dismissing. It’s interesting how time exposes vast vanities in a person’s life, isn’t it?
This is an album where I can truly say that every song on it matters. There is no filler. The unifying thread is the incorporation of the Brazilian rhythms of Banda Black, Rio and a distinct impression of the influence of Milton Nascimento. Couple this with some undertones of carnaval, samba, and other Brazilian influences and what is done is an album that is as masterful in its musicianship as it is easy to hear. Another distinctive instrumental quality that decades ago, I somehow missed, is the use of the African thumb piano, kalimbo.
After a lifetime of being wrong, I’m giving this album a nine out of 10 and the band itself a 10 out of 10. Take a listen from the sampling below and see if maybe you agree with me?
All ‘n’ All can be listened to here:
Fantasy may be listened to here: