Consumer Guide Album
Earth, Wind & Fire: Open Our Eyes [Columbia, 1974]
On side one the vocal systole-diastole finally comes together, with Philip Bailey definitive, as he deserves to be; Maurice White, meanwhile, provides tuneful, relatively unselfconscious songs over a light Latin-funk beat jarred by grunts, horn riffs, and keyboard squiggles. A very pleasant surprise. Side two, where they always stretch out and often make fools of themselves, is a survey of EW&F's roots, from the kalimba-hooked "Drum Song" through street rap through 1:41 of expert cocktail bebop (didn't know Maurice had that rim shot in him) through schlock scat to the devotional theme song, written in 1958 by one Leon Lumkins. A fucking tour de force.