Fri. Jul. 20, 2018

Earth, Wind & Fire – Singasong (Columbia)

Classics: Earth, Wind & Fire – Singasong (Columbia)

Contrary to what it may seem at first sight, there’s no typo in our writing of the title of this song. Even though many single releases came up as ‘Sing A Song’, its title did it as ‘Singasong’ on the album version. An album which definitely marked a strong evolution for E,W & F in terms of notoriety back in 1975. With thanks to gems such as its title cut (‘Gratitude’). But also ‘Devotion’, ‘Sun Goddess’ and ‘Shining Star’. Not to mention ‘Can’t Hide Love’ which Masters At Work memorably remixed in the early 80’s.

Written by Al McKay, ‘Singasong’ (‘Sing A Song’) just has both an irresistible flow and appeal. An invitation to sort of jam together, its instrumental version perfectly fits with the atmosphere of ‘L’Equipe du soir’. A weekday sport show featuring a band of journalists and consultants commenting the latest events with acuracy and humor in a unique way…

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Overview
– 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 vocal pfew words, the first ones coming to mind would be their obvious flamboyance, both on stage as musically speaking. But also the dynamicerformances sound of their horn section which is a part of their signature. The beauty of their vocal arrangements. With thanks to the contrasting 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’. With ‘Be Ever Wonderful’ and ‘After The Love Has Gone’ standing as some of the most vibrant ballads ever produced. 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. Meanwhile they would flirt with electronic vibes on the memorable ‘System Of Survival’ 10 years after.

Earth, Wind & Fire also happened to collaborate with a bunch of other artists. Beginning with their backing female singers, The Emotions. Therefore producing the memorable ‘Best Of My Love’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love’ for them. And they also crafted the vibrant ‘Free’ for Deniece Williams which Chanté Moore covered in the mid-90’s. Meanwhile their (first) horn section could be heard jammin’ along with Phil Collins. This back in 1985 on the firing ‘Sussudio’ from his ‘No Jacket Required’ album…

– A native of New Orleans, LA, Albert Philip McKay had his first break soon after finishing High School. This while accompanying a bandmate to an Ike & Tina Turner‘s rehearsal. And eventually impressing Ike with his left-handed playing guitar skills. And the same way he did with the latter, he would do with Sammy Davis, Jr. Although demonstrating this time his mastery of the then new Wah-wah pedal. Before comin’ to tour with Isaac Hayes among others…

McKay joined Earth, Wind & Fire to fill the void created by Roland Bautista‘s departure after the release of their 1972 ‘Last Days And Time’ album. A band member first, he would later add his voice (just like Charles Stepney) to the songwriting/production team of the band along with Maurice White. Eventually penning ‘Singasong’ back in 1975, then ‘September’ 3 years after. This before sharing the production duties with White on ‘Boogie Wonderland’ featuring The Emotions in 1979. Eventually writing the memorable ‘Best Of My Love’ for them in 1977. But also producing Renn Woods‘ debut-album, ‘Out Of The Woods’, in 1979. Itself mostly remembered for ‘Everybody Get Up’.

Al McKay left Earth, Wind & Fire soon after the release of their ‘Faces’ album which saw the light by the end of 1980. With a then returning Roland Bautista replacing him.

McKay‘s name also appeared along with the ones of Central Line, A Taste Of Honey and Glenn Jones. Not to mention Finis Henderson or The Temptations for whom he produced ‘Skip To My Lou’ and ‘Treat Her Like A Lady’. His departure from E, W & F never got synonymous with anger though. And it’s no surprising we saw him reuniting with former members of the band. Meanwhile givin’ birth to Al McKay Allstars back in the dawn of the Third Millenium. Then subsequently releasing the ‘Al Dente’ album in 2001.

The freshly squeezed ‘Heed The Message’ most likely sounds like the jam that could get them to be topping the charts. This with new arrangements courtesy of Joey Negro. Meanwhile a new album is in the pipeline, enthuzes McKay on his own website

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