Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Earth, Wind & Fire - Illumination (2005)


EW&F is one of my all-time fav groups, particularly their output in the late '70s. My teenage son loves them, too (that's a sign of good parenting). Here, they've tried to update their sound and have a lot of guests, but every now and then you can hear the old sound coming through. The classic Phenix Horn section isn't here, but they've been replaced by Jerry Hey and other session musicians, so it's not too different. Also joining the band on this disc are, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Raphael Saadiq, Big Boi, Kelly Rowland, Sleepy Brown, Floetry, Brian McKnight, and Kenny G (really?). It looks like EW&F was trying to create their own version of Santana's Supernatural. While Philip Bailey is in fine voice, what's missing the most is the songwriting of Maurice White (sadly, White is battling Parkinson's disease). Still, it is a welcome album from a group that can update its sound without embarrassing itself: neo-soul over hip-hop beats with just a touch of horns. It's not the EW&F CD I would hope for, but it'll do. I must have purchased this CD at Target, because, in addition a bonus track, it has 2 more "Target Exclusive Bonus Tracks".

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #32

Tracks: Songs like Pure Gold, Love's Dance, Liberation, and To You sound like classic EW&F. Other good songs include Show Me The Way, Work It Out, and Pass You By. I want to skip This Is How I Feel and Elevated. Also, The One is so repetitive you've heard the whole song within the first 10 seconds, but the song goes on for another 5 minutes.

Bonus tracks: Kenny G and EW&F cover Outkast's The Way You Move. That doesn't even look good on paper. This is the only Kenny G in my collection for good reason. The second bonus track, Love Together, is a strong track, but too repetitive (these guys must have forgotten how to write a bridge). Let Me Love You featuring Floetry is forgettable and not the best way to end a disc.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This disc is reminding me of youth soccer games at the fields beside Linnie Roberts Elementary School.

1 comment:

  1. The songs I like on Sanatana's Supernatural I like so much I can easily forgive and forget the others. What I can't forgive and forget is the trend the album started: Prince's Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, Run-DMC's Crown Royal and Earth, Wind & Fire's Illumination, along with Santana's own Supernatural follow-ups Shaman and All That I Am all kinda suck. Each features glimpses of the artist whose music we fell in love with but mostly its like an awkward first date with absolutely no chemistry between the artists and their guests.

    I enjoy the occasional duet or pairing but outside of the jazz world of which I admittedly know very little, I'm at a loss to name one enjoyable album along the lines of the parade of guest scarred titles above.

    Let us not mention Kenny G again. Doh!