Now, Then & Forever

Earth, Wind & Fire

Legacy, 2013

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Funk/soul stalwarts Earth, Wind & Fire have now entered their fifth decade as a group, and throughout that time, they have been one of the more prolific and successful acts to come out of that movement.  The band, which originally formed in Chicago, has for the most part stayed together as a core group of four or five. They have, however, clearly had a revolving door policy, as countless players came and went over the years, which has led to constant discussions among fans as to just exactly which line-up is considered the best.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There were times over the journey that their live group far outshone the band’s recorded output, but that’s bound to happen when you stay around as long as these fellas have. The Rolling Stones is a case in point.  For some reason, founding member Maurice White was not involved in the recording of this album at all, but he does curiously write an introduction for the liner notes and I hope all is good on that front. 

So for album number twenty-one, we have a solid three-piece outfit consisting of Phillip Bailey, Ralph Randolph Johnson and Verdine White; although apart from White’s killer bass playing and Bailey’s awesome lead and backing vocals, it seems these tracks were mainly performed by session guys and possibly members of the latest edition of the road band.

This album is not one of the band’s greatest efforts, but it’s a very solid contemporary R&B record that includes some genuine killer tracks that will no doubt sound epic once the group hits the road again. A few examples would be the unashamedly retro-disco strutter ‘Dance Floor” and the rocking “Night Of My Life,” which comes complete with a classic horn section, stinging guitar licks and the bottom end is anchored by White’s fat, funkified bass line. 

The chilled-out groove of “Love Is Law” is another high point as is the smooth jazz of “Splashes;” George Benson would love that one in his set. “Sign On” is a funky take on the classic EW&F sound, on which Bailey shows off his remarkable vocal range. Sharing the lead with Daniel McLain was a nice touch, too as they bounce off each other really well. 

hen & Forever is really a solid effort from this great band, and although it is in no way essential, it’s lots of fun and a lot better than so much of the crap that passes for R&B these days.

Rating: B

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© 2014 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.