42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
The legacy of The Elements will always live on . . .,
This review is from: Now, Then & Forever (Audio CD)
Whether you've been a fan of EWF since the early-70s, or are a part of the new generation of fans, you have grown to appreciate their unparalleled instrumentation and uplifting lyrics. It's been a few years since we last heard from them, but truly good music takes a while to create. That is indeed the case with Now, Then & Forever.
The album kicks off, appropriately enough, with "Sign On". While it lacks the urgency of say, "System Of Survival", the message of being actively involved in the social and political events that affect your life is loud and clear.
The album then settles into the mid-tempo groove of "Love Is Law", where those trademark EWF horns punctuate gospel-tinged vocal harmonies, led by the incomparable Philip Bailey. The amazing thing about Bailey's vocal gift is that it actually seems to be growing stronger as the years go by.
As for "My Promise", the horns step to the front and drive the song from start to finish. The vocals punch on through just fine though, and this track reminds me a lot of the "I Am" album from 1979. Heavy on the pop, but an unmistakable foundation of funk anchors it all. Speaking of which, check out "Dance Floor". Think of it as "Boogie Wonderland: The Sequel".
"Guiding Lights" has a smooth jazz feel, with keyboard master Larry Dunn leading the way. The laid-back groove intertwines with words of positivity that recall previous EWF years: "So keep your head to the sky / And let the clouds tell you why."
As for me, my favorites are actually the instrumentals, which include "Belo Horizonte" and "Splashes". Both have a Latin style, with the latter featuring a REALLY cool flugelhorn solo. If you remember the South American influence on the albums "All 'n All" and "Faces", then you will certainly enjoy these tracks.
Let's face it . . . it is simply impossible to be in anything but a good mood when you hear the sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire. Their music has been a solid rock of hope and healing for many, many years. Several years from now when music historians look back, the contributions of EWF will be fondly remembered.