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Now, Then & Forever

4.5 out of 5 stars 181 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The new album from Earth, Wind & Fire, Now, Then & Forever, marks a return to the signature sound that made them international superstars. After an eight-year absence from the studio, the legendary band takes center stage with ten all-new, vibrant, energetic songs befitting one of the most beloved ensembles in music history. From the rich tenor vocals of Philip Bailey to the deep-groove rhythms of bassist Verdine White and percussionist Ralph Johnson - not to mention the stellar horn section - Now, Then & Forever features all the elements that made them international superstars. Features the feel-good celebration of love "My Promise," the socially-conscious "Sign On," and the fun, funky anthem "Dance Floor."
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 10, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: September 10, 2013
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 43 minutes
  • ASIN: B006BFK5DK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,060 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: Audio CD
It's always been a fascinating journey to see Earth Wind & Fire continue to redefine themselves musically as they continue to make music,comeback after comeback. It's so creative minded and refreshing to see this approach. I realize it's difficult for Philip Bailey,Ralph Johnson and Verdine White to keep going on stage and in the studio the way they do. With Maurice White now likely permanently absent,they are also confronting a whole group of music lovers who continually pit them up against the music of the 1970's funk era (of which they were a key contributor) up against what they are doing today. It's a ridiculous standard to be sure. Also if the layers of one's musical trepidation is peeled back,one glimpses that EWF have never in fact strayed from that standard. Not in the studio anyway. They've tried new approaches,some more successful than others. But Maurice's vision for them was so strong that Philip Bailey is still able to exude that unique mixture of coolness,spirituality and heavy duty groove power this band has always had. And no less than that occurs here.

The album opens with the percussively bumping and highly danceable funk of "Sign On",with it's earnest lyrical plea to basically "get up,get into it and get involved":the very core of their encouraging philosophical aestetic. "Love Is Law" is an equally uplifting lyric which accompanies a deeply grinding melodically crafted funk jam of the highest order. Three songs here deliver high octane dance-funk of different colors "My Promise" zeroes right in on the gospel inspired joy of the Phenix Horns' and the richly harmonized falsetto/mid-range vocals. "Dance Floor" pulls out the heavy funk with Verdine's classic grinding bass throwing down that ever important brink and mortar foundation.
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I've been a fan of Earth, Wind & Fire since the early '70s, when rushing the local record store to pick up a copy of the super group's latest album the day it was released was truly an event. So I'm the first person to hop on it when I hear about the impending release of a new EWF collection -- even after the passage of four decades! I pre-ordered "Now, Then & Forever" the moment I heard about its impending release, of course. But I have to admit I didn't have particularly high hopes for the new project, given Maurice White's waning involvement in EWF and other changes in the musical scene that have rendered the super group less relevant over the years. Wow, was I wrong! Many of the reviews of "Now, Then, & Forever" have compared it to 2005's Grammy-nominated "Illumination," concluding that the latest collection almost matches the former one in terms of quality. I have to disagree. I think "Now, Then & Forever," surpasses "Illumination" because of its musical unity -- the way the tracks work together -- evoking the heyday of EWF more than any release since the 1980s. "Illumination," while featuring some individually amazing tracks, felt bloated to me as a whole. It contained about five tracks too many and its foregrounding of guest artists diluted the EWF sound. By contrast, "Now, Then & Forever's" carefully selected 10 tracks is pure EWF. (Sometimes less really is more!) They flow nicely into one another in terms of tempo, arrangement, and musical genre, setting an overall mood that represents a refreshing return to form for the Elements. While Philip Bailey had a hand in writing most of the tracks, a talented group of names long associated with the super group (e.g., Larry Dunn, Jerry Hey, and Allee Willis, etc.) are credited for helping to pull this excellent project together.Read more ›
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