Friday, January 6, 2012

Worth Another Listen • Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth Wind & Fire
Earth Wind & Fire Earth Wind & Fire

When I hear the music of Earth, Wind & Fire, I immediately transport back to high school and a Social Studies teacher I had a Smyrna High, Ms. Pinkett. You see, Ms. Pinkett had a unique style, at least for this young man in the seventies. Ms. Pinkett was keeping it real, not letting the tradition role of teacher to take over her own personality. She was African American, but not the first African American I had as a teacher. But she was the first that would regularly use "Solid" in the classroom. And the first would would regularly quote 'the elements' in her class. Oh, she wasn't talking about the elements on the periodic table. No, she would quote the words of the songs of the elements, Earth, Wind & Fire. And one of the few Social Studies teachers I remember thirty-some-odd years later.

Earth Wind & Fire

There are a couple of things I find remarkable about "the Elements." One is that they had many changes in the line up of the band so many times, yet the quality of the sound never changed. The first time I remember hearing Earth, Wind & Fire was in 1975 when they had their #1 hit, Shining Star.

In 1978, they brought another song to the Billboard Top 10, with a style only they could have. They combined Soul music with R&B with a Dance flair that was their own. They had their own take on the Beatles song Got to Get You into My Life, part of the great songbook of Lennon & McCartney. It was part of the Beatles' Revolver album released in 1966, and made it on the charts in 1976, a few years after the Beatles broke up. This version by Earth, Wind & Fire peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The next single released by the band was the iconic September. The song, written by band founder Maurice White as members Al McKay & Allee Willis, was quite popular in the clubs, as well as on Pop radio. Released around Thanksgiving, is certainly could be heard through the holiday season. It made it to #8 on the Billboard US chart, and #3 on the UK Pop chart.

In 1979, they had another string of hits, including what might be a ballad for Earth, Wind & Fire, After the Love Has Gone. The song was written by legendary songwriter/producer David Foster as well as Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin, and produced by founder Maurice White. The song did well at the Grammy Awards, as it was nominated for Record of the Year and won for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. The song also won a Best R & B Song for Foster, Graydon and Champlin as its composers. It made it to #2 on the Billboard Hot Hot in the US, and to #4 on the UK charts.

To find out more about Earth, Wind & Fire, visit their official website here. You can find their music on iTunes here, and on Amazon here. The links will bring you to their Greatest Hits collection, and I know Ms. Pinkett will be thrilled you purchased it. And I hope she is glad I still remember her so fondly.


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