Classics: Earth Wind And Fire – Devotion (Columbia)
Memphis, TN-born Maurice White first emerged as a session drummer for Chess Records. Back then, he would work with artists such as Etta James and The Dells. But also Betty Everett and Ramsey Lewis to name but a few. Eventually comin’ to replace Isaac Red Holt as a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio.
It’s during that period that the first recording of him playing the kalimba would be found on ‘Uhuru’. A cut one can find on their 1969 ‘Another Voyage’ album.
Earth Wind And Fire officially saw the light the year after. White serving as the band’s main songwriter and producer. And also as their co-lead singer along with Phillip Bailey.
One of the highlights of their 1974 released ‘Open Your Eyes’ album, the vibrant ‘Devotion’, which the latter co-wrote, would be given a live recording the year after on the ‘Gratitude’ album…
“Praise the teacher, that brings true love to many. Your devotion, opens all life’s treasures And deliverance, from the fruits of evil. So our mission, to bring a melody Ringin’ voices sing sweet harmony…” Sayin’ almost it all as far as Earth Wind And Fire is concerned, huh?
Founded in Chicago by Maurice White back in 1971, Earth Wind & Fire stand as one of the most successful bands of the 20th Century. Their music is a unique blend of R&B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Disco, Rock, Latin and African vibes. If ever we had to summarize them in a few words, the first ones coming to mind would be their obvious flamboyance, both on stage as musically speaking. But also the dynamic sound of their horn section which is a part of their signature. The beauty of their vocal arrangements. With thanks to the contrasting vocal performances of falsetto singer Philip Bailey and contralto Maurice White. Not to mention the presence of the Kalimba (what the Africans tend to call the “thumb piano”) being the icing on the cake)…
The impressive list of their classics speaks for itself. From ‘Shining Star’ to ‘Devotion’, and ‘Sing A Song’. But also ‘Fantasy’, ‘September’, ‘Boogie Wonderland’ or ‘Let’s Groove’. Not to mention ‘Can’t Hide Love’ which Masters At Work brilliantly remixed back in 2002. And ‘Getaway’ which The Salsoul Orchestra covered back in 1977…
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