EARTH, WIND & FIREPROMISE
US Kalimba, 2003
All In The Way Betcha Wiggle Why? Wonderland Where Do We Go From Here? Freedom Hold Me
Never Prelude All About Love Suppose You Like Me The Promise She Waits
The Promise (Continued) Let Me Love You - Dirty
I remember the release of the "Millennium" CD back in October 1993, and the group being interviewed
by an idiot VJ on MTV who seriously asked the gents why they thought that they were still relevant,
musically, "in todays R&B world". Well, guess what? The idiot VJ can be found nowhere, the new
jack clones and the other ephemeral ragtag and bobtails are no longer around either. Strange, that!
Well, all I can say is here we are 10 years later with another 2 albums under their belt and now
"The Promise" which rates as their best and most consistent album certainly since "I Am".
Not surprising, really, as some material was conceived in 1978 during the "I Am" sessions.
If you want to argue the toss over relevance and longevity dont pick on Maurice,
Philip and the gang, as they will prove you wrong every time! This is a delicacy of an album
in every sense of the word. Maurice White and Philip Bailey sound no different now than they did
back in the 1970s and their writing and performing skills are first rate as ever. I cannot
say that the style of the album is totally in the classic EWF genre, but their familiar sound
definitely sweeps in more often than not. Jerry Hey on horn arrangements;
Ray Brown, Gary Bais, Reggie Young and Bill Reichenbach slam the grooves with their
tight, sharp horns, Ralph McDonald on percussion, Bill Meyers on piano and Verdine
White strums his guitar in all the right places and makes exactly the right noises.
As for guest artists the talented Angie Stone shares the mic on the superb Tommy Sims
composition "Wonderland" and The Emotions add their unique harmonies to a variety of
tunes which really does hark back to the halcyon 70s recordings. I love every track but I
do have my favourites the KILLER composition for these ears is "Where Do We Go From Here" which
was conceived in 1978 and originally recorded during the aforementioned "I Am" sessions.
This is, I hasten to add, a 2003 interpretation. What totally gripped me is the ability
to recreate the CLASSIC sound of the early 1980s.
This is thanks to the band throwing themselves into the essence of the track;
the fender rhodes keyboard is so prominent that this record sounds so like any
of the classic sounds from 1981 think Leon Ware, Cliff Dawson, Chuck Cissel, Donald Byrd,
Chemelion amongst others.
AWESOME and definitely a crowning glory - one of my future summertime classics. That
enough is good for my soul, let alone the spine-tingling modern beat ballad, "Hold Me"
with its Gary Taylor / Monte Moir stylised introduction. I cant get
enough of this song the production harks back to the devastatingly subtle and
eerie groove that Mario Winans unleashed on his much underrated and overlooked 1997
Motown set. Check out "You Never Know" from that set and you will see what I am getting at.
"All In The Way" opens the album and is a bouncy, brassy jogger featuring the Emotions
on backing vocals. Superior vocal performances all around, especially from Maurice.
I cannot recommend this album enough. I am constantly reminded, most joyfully, about the
resurgence of our music out of these dark days and 2003 has been helped no end by this album
amongst many others in saying "music is back". Miss this album at your peril.
of the Month in 2003 Albums
of the Month in 2002 Albums
of the Month in 2001 Albums
of the Month in 2000 Albums
of the Month in 1999 Albums
of the Month in 1998 Albums
of the Month in 1997