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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Earth, Wind & Fire - Gratitude (1975)

Note: Originally released as a 2 LP set with 3 live sides and a studio side, this CD is the 1999 reissue containing 1 bonus track.

Ask yourself: "Should I listen to more Earth, Wind & Fire?"  Inevitably, the answer is yes.

The rare live album that actually adds to a band's legacy instead of simply being a stopgap release or contract obligation to the label.  The band cooks as Philip Bailey and Maurice White quickly whip the crowd into a frenzy and keep up the intensity for the entire set.  Even the fervent ballads have you on the edge of your seat.  I'm spent just listening to it.  It is obvious in these recordings that these musicians love performing and they love these songs.  The live tracks here are much better than those included in the Eternal Dance box set.  And the studio tracks ain't nothing to sneeze at.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #1 (3 weeks, Jan 17-31, 1976)
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1 (1 week)

Tracks:  Yearnin' Learnin' may be the best song on the disc, but a Don Myrick sax solo on Reasons certainly gives it a run for its money.  Also good are Shining Star and the studio singles Sing A Song and Can't Hide Love.  Don't skip anything here.  The bonus track is a 6 minute, 4 song medley taken from preparations for a 1978 Natalie Cole TV variety special, but didn't make the final cut. Instead, the show producers opted for a longer lip-synching, costume-changing spectacle that included Cole taking a turn on That's The Way Of The World. View that performance here.  The recording on this CD is clean and enjoyable, but pales next to the rest of the disc. It's hard to believe they actually allowed a solid 8 minute, 5 song medley on TV back then. These days, the variety show is a thing of the past and for promotional musical performances on TV talk shows, its two minutes and out.  Shame.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  Over a year ago, my youngest son (a huge EWF fan) spotted this CD and 1977's All 'N All in the bargain bin at our local Hasting's for $3 each. How could I resist?

Previously revisited for the blog:
Illumination (2005)
The Eternal Dance (1992)
I Am (1979)
The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 (1978)
All 'N All (1977)

1 comment:

  1. Everyone needs more classic EWF in their life. The world would be a better place.

    Gratitude also stands out as one of those live albums recorded in front of multpile audiences across several dates in various venues yet still sounds remarkably seamless. The ecstatically enthusiastic crowd comes washing in like a wave on just about every track.

    And you nailed it with the musicians loving what they're doing comment - the joy and exuberance of their performances is palpable and infectious. Despite the passing of time and changes within the group - leader Maurice bowed out of performing two decades ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson's but still maintains a level of control in both creative and business affairs - Earth, Wind & Fire remain a dynamic, energized live unit, deservedly enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

    Reading your post today made me go back and re-read your earlier EWF posts while listening to the albums on Spotify transporting The Hideaway to Boogie Wonderland.

    FYI, Mark, they are in your neck of the woods this weekend!