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Funk - Released November 21, 1977 | Columbia

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Earth, Wind & Fire's artistic and commercial winning streak continued with its ninth album, All 'N All, the diverse jewel that spawned major hits like "Serpentine Fire" and the dreamy "Fantasy." Whether the visionary soul men are tearing into the hardest of funk on "Jupiter" or the most sentimental of ballads on "I'll Write a Song for You" (which boasts one of Philip Bailey's many soaring, five-star performances), All 'N All was a highly rewarding addition to EWF's catalog. Because EWF had such a clean-cut image and fared so well among pop audiences, some may have forgotten just how sweaty its funk could be. But "Jupiter" -- like "Mighty, Mighty," "Shining Star," and "Getaway" -- underscores the fact that EWF delivered some of the most intense and gutsy funk of the 1970s. ~ Alex Henderson
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Funk - Released November 11, 1975 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Funk - Released March 15, 1975 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Earth, Wind & Fire has delivered more than its share of excellent albums, but if a person could own only one EWF release, the logical choice would be That's the Way of the World, which was the band's best album as well as its best-selling. Open Our Eyes had been a major hit and sold over half-a-million units, but it was World that established EWF as major-league, multi-platinum superstars. Fueled by gems ranging from the sweaty funk of "Shining Star" and "Yearnin' Learnin'" to the gorgeous ballad "Reasons" and the unforgettable title song, EWF's sixth album sold at least five-million units. And some of the tracks that weren't major hits, such as the exuberant "Happy Feelin'" and the gospel-influenced "See the Light," are equally powerful. There are no dull moments on World, one of the strongest albums of the '70s and EWF's crowning achievement. ~ Alex Henderson
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Funk - Released June 9, 1979 | Columbia - Legacy

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R&B - Released April 17, 2018 | Columbia - Legacy

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September is a two-disc Earth, Wind & Fire compilation that was released through Columbia in Germany. Since Essential Earth, Wind & Fire -- a stateside set -- covers roughly the same ground while containing nine more songs, it won't be of much use to anyone elsewhere. While "September," "Let's Groove," "Getaway," "Boogie Wonderland," "Fantasy," "Shining Star," and "Reasons" are included, there are too many gaps for the release to be recommendable. In fact, the band's first five albums are all but completely ignored (no "That's the Way of the World," "Mighty Mighty," "Evil," or "Keep Your Head to the Sky"). ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released March 21, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

Columbia/Legacy's double-disc set The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire lives up to its title by offering 34 tracks of the groundbreaking funk band at its peak. All of the hits, whether they're R&B or tunes that crossed over to the pop charts, are here, along with important album tracks that capture the range and depth of EWF. Since this focuses on their peak of the '70s and early '80s, there's very little here that doesn't qualify as "essential," which makes it a better bet than their box set. The single-disc Greatest Hits remains the choice for the casual and the curious listener due to its concise concentration of classics, but anybody who wants a thorough retrospective should choose this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Funk - Released November 14, 1981 | Legacy Recordings

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The end was near for Earth, Wind & Fire. Raise! wasn't quite the disaster it was made out to be at the time, but it was their least distinguished overall album since the early days on Warner Bros., with the exception of their participation in the awful Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film soundtrack in 1978. "Let's Groove" was just a recycled mid-tempo tune from the mid-'70s, and everything else sounded desultory and uninspired. It was no surprise that after two more albums Maurice White and Company decided to take some time away from the scene. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released February 28, 1997 | Warner Bros.

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Funk - Released October 14, 1980 | Columbia - Legacy

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Although they were catching more flak from critics for an alleged obsession with sociopolitical commentary and quasi-mystical references, R&B audiences hadn't yet tired of Earth, Wind & Fire. While this album admittedly had less memorable material and was more dependent on what had become production clichés and stock devices, it still landed plenty of hits on the charts. But it was becoming clear to even the most devoted fans that songs like "Let Me Talk" and "Sparkle" weren't their finest hour. ~ Ron Wynn
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Funk - Released September 1, 1976 | Columbia - Legacy

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With That's the Way of the World having enjoyed multi-platinum success, Earth, Wind & Fire had a lot to live up to when the time came for another studio project. And the soul powerhouse didn't let anyone down (either commercially or creatively) on the outstanding Spirit, which boasted hits ranging from the optimistic "On Your Face" and the passionate funk classic "Getaway" to the poetic ballad "Imagination." Philip Bailey is as charismatic as ever on "Imagination" and the gorgeous title song. Maurice White's message and vision (an interesting blend of Afro-American Christianity and Eastern philosophy) was as positive and uplifting as ever, and as always, EWF expressed this positivity without being Pollyanna-ish or corny. And even if one didn't take EWF's calls for unity, hard work, self-respect, and faith in God to heart, they had no problem with their solid grooves. ~ Alex Henderson
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Funk - Released February 3, 1983 | Columbia

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Many groups lose the steam that propelled them to the top; Earth, Wind & Fire, contemporary sound and all, were still blazing when this album was released. "Fall in Love With Me" was the first single. With its festive rhythm and sauntering vocals, it became a number four hit on the Billboard R&B charts and a number 17 pop hit. The percolating single "Side by Side" was the second release. The precise horns, sensuous female backing vocals, and Maurice White's animated vocals make this an entertaining piece. Though it should have fared better, it settled in at number 15 on the R&B charts. The final release was "Spread Your Love." The sonically aggressive special effects are contrasted with a soothing chanting chorus. The single peaked at 57. All three of the above feature Maurice White on lead. Throughout the entire album, White's unifying message is fueled by the aggressive rhythms and relaxing melodies. ~ Craig Lytle
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Funk - Released April 23, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

This isn't really a major archival release, but that doesn't mean it isn't an enjoyable one, either. Capturing a series of highlights from Earth Wind & Fire's breakthrough 1975 tour -- all selected by Maurice White -- That's the Way of the World may not have the ebb and flow of a proper live set, but it does have the advantage of burning bright consistently throughout the record. This isn't just because of White's very selections, but because this is when EWF was at their peak as a white-hot funk band, laying down tight, monstrous grooves and turning out lively, interesting jams on top of that. All of that is captured well on this nine-track live album (not counting the "Overture" and "Interlude"); even when the group brings down the tempo on "Reasons" and "That's the Way of the World," the music doesn't turn flaccid -- it still smolders. This doesn't quite mean it's an earth-shattering release, but it's a fun record, something that the group's fans -- particularly those who loved the group's early peak years -- will surely dig. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Funk - Released May 1, 2012 | Legacy Recordings

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R&B - Released November 23, 1978 | Columbia - Legacy

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Funk - Released November 1, 1972 | Legacy Recordings

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Funk - Released May 1, 1973 | Columbia

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As phenomenally popular as Earth, Wind & Fire was from the mid-'70s to the early '80s, it's easy to forget that the band was hardly an overnight success. With Head to the Sky -- EWF's fourth album overall, second with Philip Bailey, and second for Columbia -- Maurice White's very spiritual and ambitious brand of soul and funk was starting to pay off commercially. The Latin-influenced "Evil" became the soulsters' biggest hit up to that point, and material ranging from the hauntingly pretty title song (which boasts one of Bailey's finest performances ever) to the jazz fusion gem "Zanzibar" is just as rewarding. The lineup White unveiled with Last Days and Time was working out beautifully; Bailey was clearly proving to be a major asset. Also worth noting is the presence of singer Jessica Cleaves, who left after this album and, several years later, resurfaced in George Clinton's eccentric female group the Brides of Funkenstein. EWF still had what was basically a cult following, but that was beginning to change with Head to the Sky. And when EWF took off commercially in 1974 and 1975, many new converts went back and saw for themselves just how excellent an album Head to the Sky was. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B - Released April 22, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

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Commercially, Earth, Wind & Fire were slipping in 1983. Though a decent album, Powerlight wasn't the type of big seller EWF was used to. Maurice White responded with a change of direction that proved to be both a commercial and artistic fiasco. Working with very in-demand (and very formula-oriented) studio figures like Martin Page and David Foster, EWF went for a much slicker and more high-tech approach on the weak and disappointing Electric Universe. White saw that synthesizers and drum machines were playing more and more of a role in both R&B and pop, and wanted to acknowledge technology's impact on music with this album. But EWF usually ends up sounding insincere and even sterile. The type of synth-funk that worked so well for the System doesn't work for EWF. A few of the songs are interesting (including "Electric Kingdom" and the single "Magnetic"), but they don't prevent Electric Universe from being EWF's weakest album ever. When this release flopped, EWF's members temporarily went their separate ways, with Philip Bailey and Maurice White concentrating on solo careers. ~ Alex Henderson
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Pop - Released September 2, 2016 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Since the mid-1980s, Earth, Wind & Fire's output had been erratic and quite uneven. One never knew whether the veteran soul/funk band would come out with something as impressive as Share the World or something as embarrassing as Heritage. After many years with Columbia, EWF switched to Warner Bros. -- ironically, a label that gave Maurice White and friends the boot back in 1972 -- with Millennium. While Heritage found EWF bending over backwards to appeal to urban contemporary tastes, sounding unnatural and even silly in the process, Millennium is a more honest and organic recording. Though hardly in a class with That's The Way Of The World or Spirit -- or for that matter, Share The World -- Millennium is a decent offering that finds the crew being true to itself. Much of the material, especially "Sunday Morning," "Chicago (Chi-Town) Blues" and "Honor the Magic," is fairly memorable. Unfortunately, the urban contemporary audience wasn't receptive to EWF's honesty. As influential as EWF had been, and as often as it had been sampled in hip-hop, the group was treated like it was expendable. ~ Alex Henderson
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Funk - Released October 17, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

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R&B - Released March 1, 2017 | Castle Communications

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Earth, Wind & Fire in the magazine