Q - 1/03, p.1324 stars out of 5
- "...There's still loads to savour..."
Earth, Wind & Fire: Maurice White (vocals, kalimba, timbales, drums); Verdine White (vocals, bass, percussion); Philip Bailey (vocals, congas, percussion); Larry Dunn (piano, organ, synthesizer, programming).
Additional personnel includes: Ken Yerke, Harris Goldman (violin); Rollice Dale (viola); Dennis Karmazyn Harry Schultz (cello); Fred Jackson Jr., Herman Riley, Jerome Richardson (saxophone); Tommy Johnson (tuba); Harvey Mason, Paulinho Da Costa (percussion); Beloyd Taylor (background vocals).
Producers: Maurice White, Joe Wissert, Charles Stepney, Al McKay.
Compilation producers: Leo Sacks, Maurice White.
Recorded between 1973 & 1983. Includes liner notes by Leo Sacks, Virginia Prescott, and William C, Rhoden.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
"These songs are as close as we came to perfection," says group founder and leader Maurice White in the liner notes to THE ESSENTIAL EARTH, WIND & FIRE. Given the quality of the music in this double-disc package, it's hard to argue. Remarkable for both its commercial success and its inventive hybrid of funk, soul, jazz, and African folk music (White's kalimba is featured as a solo instrument on "Evil," for example), Earth, Wind & Fire are deservedly regarded as one of the finest ensembles of the 1970s.
A thorough retrospective of the band's evolution and multiple stylistic directions (often achieved within one song), ESSENTIAL spans from the early, earthy funk of "Mighty Mighty" to the disco-flavored "Boogie Wonderland" (with the Emotions). In between are all of the group's smash hits--the infectious "Shining Star," the feel-good "Sing a Song," their jazzy interpretation of Lennon/McCartney's "Got to Get You Into My Life," and the early '80s dance-floor favorite "Let's Groove," to name a few. Throughout, complex horn parts, rich vocal harmonies, and the formidable chops of the band's instrumentalists dazzle on ballads, heady improvisations, and funk workouts alike. This is the definitive compilation of one soul's mightiest groups.