- Track listing:
LOVE TOGETHER Produced by Raphael Saadiq (Written by R. Saadiq, K. Wooten)
PURE GOLD Produced & Written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
LOVE’S DANCE Produced & Written by Jimmy & Terry Lewis
SHOW ME THE WAY- FEAT. RAPHAEL SAADIQ Produced by R. Saadiq (Written by R. Saadiq, T. Jackson)
THIS IS HOW I FEEL FEAT. SLEEPY BROWN, BIG BOI & KELLY ROWLAND (Written and Produced by Organized Noize)
LOVELY PEOPLE FEAT. WIL I AM of THE BLACK EYED PEAS (Produced & Written by WIL I AM)
PASS YOU BY Produced by Raphael Saadiq (Written by R. Saadiq, T. Jackson)
THE ONE Produced by Organized Noize (Written by P. Brown, R. Murray, R. Wade)
TO YOU - FEAT. BRIAN MCKNIGHT Produced & Written by Brian McKnight
ELEVATED - FEAT. FLOETRY Produced By Darren Henson & Keith Pelzer (Written by M. Ambrosius, N. Stewart, D. Henson, K. Pelzer)
LIBERATION Produced & Written by Vikter Duplaix
WORK IT OUT Produced by Raphael Saadiq (Written by R. Saadiq, T. Jackson, S. Bailey, K. Wooten)
THE WAY YOU MOVE - Kenny G & Earth, Wind & Fire
EARTH WIND AND FIRE… Iluminates!!
Janet Walters Levite
Allow me to cut right to the chase. If you grew up with the sound of these 70’s icons, EARTH, WIND AND FIRE… you’ll be delighted to hear that their long-awaited release ILLUMINATION is now available and if you don’t run and get this CD you will be missing out on the extraordinary vintage sound that you fell in love with in your childhood, teen, and young adult years.
Hopelessly in love with and desperately missing MAURICE WHITE and the EWF family; I was nearly brought to tears by some of the tunes on this album, which includes EWF collaborations with RAPHAEL SAADIQ, Outkasts’ BIG BOI, FLOETRY, BRIAN MCKNIGHT and Executive Produced by the incomparable MAURICE WHITE along with PHILIP BAILEY and DAMIEN SMITH.
EARTH WIND AND FIRE official members are MAURICE WHITE, brother VERDINE WHITE, popular veteran falsetto crooner PHILIP BAILEY, and veteran RALPH JOHNSON (drummer, percussionist, vocalist). They’re dubbing RAPHAEL SAADIQ the new fifth member of the group. SAADIQ has blessed the band with his contributions to the writing and production on this CD, most notably my favorite; SHOW ME THE WAY. SAADIQ and MAURICE serve up a vintage EWF sound with vocals reminiscent of MAURICE on LOVES HOLIDAY (… ladies, you know what I’m talking about), as well as a vocal arrangement reminiscent of the one we adored at the end of the tune CAN’T HIDE LOVE. This CD takes you on a quantum leap back to the years you loved this band the most. PHILIP’S voice still resounds, and it’s such a pleasure to hear Maurice’s sexy tenor back in the mix. It’s lacking only JUST A TAD from its original strength.. but when you hear these vocals.. you’ll find it REFRESHINGLY AND UNMISTAKBLY the voice of MAURICE WHITE. HalleluYah! When RAPHAEL SAADIQ beckons us to… “Sing along with Maurice y’all, C’mon”, and MAURICE drop kicks his signature moan… “oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh, oh-ooh-oh-ooh-oh-ooh- oh.” .. ladies, you’ll swoon. BRIAN MCKNIGHT does the same thing in the tune entitled TO YOU… hooking you in with… “.. Now Maurice would say something like…” and MAURICE kicks in with his classic vocals “Yay-ee-yay-ee-yay-ee-yay” ... ugh, it's absolutely to die for!
PHILIP BAILEY… takes you back home to the 70’s with the mellow ballad PASS YOU BY, backed up with a bridge featuring MAURICE’s majestic tenor... an oh-so familiar sound that’s sure to enchant you. It’s been noted by some music critics that none of the material on this CD was written by EWF, thus staining the production. Not true at all. While it’s indeed true that none of the tunes were “written” by EWF - one must backtrack and examine some the old EWF Albums. It wasn’t necessarily the writing that was the aesthetic force behind the success of EWF.. but the extraordinary, one of a kind production, composition/orchestration delivered by MAURICE WHITE and the EWF family. So it stands to be noted that indeed some of the tunes we adored by EWF in the past WERE NOT written by MAURICE. Do you recall favorites such WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE and BREADS' I WANNA MAKE IT WITH YOU? These tunes were remakes borrowed from other artists, but nevertheless possessing the unmistakable aesthetic sound/prints exclusive to the artistry of MAURICE WHITE and EWF. That being said… please note that this CD (ILLUMINATION) is indeed Executive Produced by MAURICE WHITE.
PASS YOU BY is followed by another one of my picks; THE ONE. THE ONE is a feel-good up tempo groove, flowing with the soft vintage EWF falsetto background vocals. You’re going to feel this one. THE ONE is followed by the EWF and FLOETRY composition ELEVATED. Hold on for the classic R&B flow on this one… after the rap, EWF’s mellow sound will eventually merge into the hip-hop opener. ELEVATED gives way to the festive, up tempo instrumental groove LIBERATION; reminiscent of SUN GODDESS. It’s a funk-jazz composition with those astoundingly beautiful EWF vocal prints scatting over a groove of quaking percussions and VERDINE WHITES' resounding bass guitar. ELEVATED is followed by the BRIAN MCKNIGHT / MAURICE WHITE ballad TO YOU. You’re gonna love it. The falsetto and musical arrangements ATTRACTIVELY reminiscent of the EWF classic AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE. But don’t let this fool you. This is no LOVE HAS GONE thievery. The orchestration/composition is subtle and appealing. The digging into the grave of an old tune to produce a new tune is simply chafing and repelling. So I assure you, that’s not what you’re getting. You’ll simply detect a few subtle EWF prints that are soothingly reminiscent of the AFTER LOVE HAS GONE classic. I guarantee… you’ll enjoy it. TO YOU finally gives way to the EWF mostly instrumental rendition of OUTKASTS' I LIKE THE WAY YOU MOVE.
All of these favorites are going to remind you of the vintage Earth Wind and Fire favorites, yet it’s successfully rendered refreshing and original.
This is the sound that you’ve loved for decades and have longed to embrace once again. Well it’s here and it’s a monumental pleasure to sit back and groove to. The vocal harmonies and arrangements are there and in tact. The horn section and composition… it’s all there. The Earth Wind and Fire that you thought had died… is still alive and in full force... and you'll discover it once again by purchasing this magnificent CD.
This is a FIVE SCOOP CD that I would recommend purchasing without even sampling any of the tunes. I’m about to take a cross-country A&E trip and I won’t be leaving home without this CD. If you’re a die-hard, old school EWF fan… this is the EARTH WIND AND FIRE.. that you’ve been missing.
Glad to have MAURICE WHITE and EWF back. FIVE SCOOPS. Run get this CD.
Janet Walters Levite is an Optioned Screenwriter and the A&E Reporter / Co-host of Mannwell Glenn’s MAD CONVERSATION (now on Hiatus) on WURD 900 AM Philadelphia's Black Talk Radio.