Earth, Wind & Fire: Holiday

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Posted November 25, 2014 by in Funk
earthwindandfire-02-header

Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

2.5/ 5

Details

Genre: , , ,
 
Producer: ,
 
 
 
 
 
Genre: R&B, soul, holiday
 
Producer: Myron McKinley, Phillip Bailey, Phillip J. Bailey
 
Label: Sony Legacy
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 47:22
 
Release Date: 21 October 2014
 
Spin This: "Winter Wonderland," "Jingle Bell Rock"
 

Pros:

Remnants of delicious funk prevail on "Happy Seasons" and the thunderous "Winter Wonderland"
 

Cons:

Very little originality and very few truffles of mistletoe magic captured
 

Legendary pop-funk band drops first-ever holiday disc

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Legendary pop-funk band drops first-ever holiday disc

Now that Earth, Wind & Fire, the best-selling, multi Grammy-award winning funk band, is now catering to their older fans, a holiday disc had to be next on their to-do list. Of course they are years behind when compared with their elder brother Chicago (two holiday discs have already been pegged to their discography). But EW&F, recovering from their lukewarm 2014 album, is making a list and checking it twice for their first-ever holiday album.

A few “newer” songs are unearthed (“Snow,” “Every Day Is Like Christmas”), but fails to achieve the grandeur of most holiday classics. And there’s very few jingle bells tagged to these offerings to even give off the merriment of Christmas cheer. Nevertheless, Holiday is a showcase of how many familiar EW&F riffs can be embedded into funky, brass-driven revivals of holiday classics. “What Child Is This” smartly borrows “Fantasy” chords; “Sleigh Ride” mirrors “Sing a Song” until the “giddy up” chorus casts its shadow on the fun. The kalimba-sprinkled “Happy Seasons” breathes the same oxygen as “Biyo” while “Jingle Bell Rock” sways like a toddler version of “Got to Get You Into My Life.” All of these offerings will put an instant smile on the faces of those yearnin’ learnin’ for more of the familiar, but it eats away at any possibilities of the band stepping into the world of creative control. Even the album closer, a 1978 note-by-note instrumental rip of “September,” seems like a wasted opportunity conceived in laziness. A few lyric changes here and there hardly displays a sign of an organic Yuletide carol.

Vocal frontman Phillip Bailey holds his own; swirling through the falsetto universe with his infamous high notes. He sounds a bit rusty on the lower notes of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and like a Kirk Franklin chanter on the gospel choir-powered “Joy to the World,” but still carries the way of the EW&F world, even as he puts on his best impersonation of founder Maurice White. Verdine White is still notorious on the bass, while Ralph Johnson moonlights behind the scenes as contributing percussionist. But the veteran band, propped up with new-age musicians trained in contemporary jazz and marching band swagger, holds their own. On the album’s finest moment, “Winter Wonderland,” the band struts their stuff with the gusto of their bolder late Seventies funk jams. It hardly sounds winter or seasonal, but it’s funkier than anything imagined on Now, Then and Forever.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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