Newest Review: ... some wonderful arrangements of upbeat funk/dance music from the late 70s on show here. To quote from the sleeve notes, which I wouldn't ... more
All 'n' All - Earth Wind & Fire
Member Name: tomflint
All 'n' All - Earth Wind & Fire
Advantages: Great Musicianship and production
Disadvantages: The sound may turn some off
1. Serpentine Fire
3. In The Marketplace [ Interlude]
5. Love's Holiday
6. Brazilian Rhyme [Interlude]
7. I'll Write A Song For You
8. Magic Mind
10. Brazilian Rhyme [Interlude]
11. Be Ever Wonderful
12. Would you Mind
14. Brazilian Rhyme
Released in 1977, All 'n' All is Earth Wind And Fire's 7th studio album and by this point the group had solidified the funky sound it has become most closely associated with. Often associated with disco because of such tracks as 'Let's Groove' and 'Boogie Wonderland', Earth Wind and Fire [EWF] was always a very capable funk band who adopted disco more as the trend became fashionable rather than as their main style of performing.
The album can be seen as a concept album of sorts with its running themes of mysticism and faith in higher beings. None of this stuff really matters though as its the music which really stands out here. I admit that this is not to everyone's taste, but if you can overcome the 'new age' style themes, there is some wonderful arrangements of upbeat funk/dance music from the late 70s on show here.
To quote from the sleeve notes, which I wouldn't normally do!: 'a mixed bag of rock, jazz, soft soul and African folk.' There are few comparisons in popular music to be made with EWF.
After purchasing a 'best of' [ there are countless EWF compilations out there, most pretty cheap] I found myself tapping a toe and even singing along with a few of the tracks. Its the musicianship that gets me with EWF, this is dance music when that meant live instruments played well as opposed to 2 guys with computers standing on stage pressing buttons, which doesn't provide quite the same thrill for me as an audience member. Although it can be argued that EWF albums are heavily 'produced', if there's a horn section on there it IS actually a horn section with 5 or 6 players rather than some generated sound effect.
This is one of my favourite EWF albums, though I'm increasingly becoming a fan of all their music!. The album begins with 'Serpentine Fire' one of their definite classics, a pumping bass line by Verdine White supports the usual silky smooth vocals of Philip Bailey and Maurice White. Second song 'Fantasy' is a lush ballad which may prove too much for some!, more silky falsetto vocals from Philip Bailey, not as good as 'Serpentine Fire' but is still pretty darn funky. This track is followed by the first of 3 brief interludes on the album each lasting around 1 minute, these could probably have been dispensed with. Next up is probably my fave track on the album 'Jupiter', which is a fast funk workout with great bass playing and its plain to see that Jay Kay had this record in his collection as this track would easily slot onto a Jamiroquai album even today. 'Love's Holiday' is another ballad with some superb guitar soloing towards the end. 'Brazilian Rhyme' is the second of the interludes and is more interesting than the first but still a little pointless. 'I'll Write A Song For You' is another heart felt ballad with a great vocal performance, the sort of thing which surely gets rolled out at weddings, a fine track but I can't escape the fact that I prefer the rockier/funkier stuff. Track 8 'Magic Mind' is of the more funkier dance variety, good stuff!. Track 9 'Runnin' is a bit on the long side at nearly 6 minutes but still grooves along nicely in the style of 'Magic Mind' before it. This one is quite 'acid-jazz' sounding, a very popular style for bands in the early 90s eg The Brand New Heavies. Also elements of Bossa Nova here, pretty much the lot in here, and there's a cool bit where the music dies down to hear someone listening to 'serpentine fire' on the radio, always a nice idea. The 3rd interlude is totally dispensable before opening into the final track of the original album 'Be Ever Wonderful' which is quite 'smooth soul' sounding in the vein of Marvin Gaye, or possibly Al Green.
There is plenty going on with 'All N All' to impress fans of rock, funk, soul and jazz music. The production and performances are all top drawer and there are some great singles here as well. If you have it in your mind that this is 'not your thing' then it may sound a little dated, but a little open mindedness could result in a pleasurable experience!. The 3 bonus tracks are really only for completists, nothing of major note.
Summary: Feel good album.