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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Earth Wind And Fire - 1981 Raise
 
Earth Wind And Fire - 1981 Raise



ARTIST: Earth Wind And Fire
ALBUM: Raise
LABEL: Columbia
SERIAL: TC 37548
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1983, Columbia, CK 37548

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Maurice White - vocals, drums, kalimba * Verdine White - bass * Philip Bailey - vocals, percussion * Larry Dunn - piano, synthesizer * Fred White - drums, percussion * Ralph Johnson - vocals, percussion * Roland Bautista, Johnny Graham - guitar * Andrew Woolfolk - tenor saxophone

TRACK LISTING: 01 Let's Groove * 02 Lady Sun * 03 My Love * 04 Evolution Orange * 05 Kalimba Tree * 06 You Are A Winner * 07 I've Had Enough * 08 Wanna Be With You * 09 The Changing Times

WEBLINKS: www.earthwindandfire.com


Background
There is no denying that Maurice White, the driving force behind Earth Wind & Fire (EWF), is a great amongst men. If you add in the amazing vocals of Philip Bailey, although I would rather not be remembered for that duet (very successful I might add) with Mr Collins, plus a multitude of other musicians you have one of the most successful bands in history. This comes from a time, that EWF had beautiful Egyptian style albums covers, gatefold of course, they were lavish, eye catching, and if you notice with this one, didn't even have the album title on the front cover. This was the follow up to probably their most successful album 'I Am', from 1979. While that album is rightly noted as a classic, I feel 'Raise' should also be regarded as a bonafide classic and in my worthless opinion just shades it for completeness. One factor which my decision is based on is the guitars on it, agreed, still used sparingly, but when required they have an immense affect. Surprisingly David Foster has much less of a hand in this recording, with only one writing credit plus the string arrangement (I don't mean his attempts at making the ultimate string cat's cradle either, although being a piano player he probably has the required strength in his fingers to be successful in that pastime) and not a Toto in sight!


The Songs
'Let's Groove', just glides like a 747, yes I do believe it's still ok to like Disco, if it's in the hands of EWF and Bee Gees that is, although ask me when I was 12 years old, being the time of this release I would imagine my response would had been a little but different.

With 'Lady Sun', the sun refuses to set, high tempo, funky as much Groovus Maximus that you find on an Electric Boys album. Horns.. I haven't seen horns this big since Satriycon! A great chorus and a very melodic feel on that small pre-chorus that they dip into every now and then.

The Westcoast flags still blow on 'My Love', but not just as strong as an extent, but it's still there. Classic backing vocals and George Benson guitar tones and even a couple of Barry White impressions, while exhibiting a relaxed melody flow.

'Evolution Orange', the only Foster co-credit is built on brass plus synthesizer. Bailey whose voice is as sweet as Irish cream takes the main theme of the vocals, he is perfect, with the verses breathing and building to that the classic EWF/Foster style acceleration to provide a commercial chorus, even Bailey adds some screams, yes screaming in a nice way, it's all over it, and it just makes it. One thing that strikes me about the songs on this album and probably EWF, is how happy I feel playing it, they have boundless energy, and I still have the likes of 'Evolution Orange' dancing in my eyes long after the song has finished. This is can be best described as a Toto song in disguise.

OK, I realise that this album contained only one big hit, the danceful stomper of 'Let's Groove', but this is not the only quality tune. You see side 2, just drips soul, flips funk, digs discos, sails to the Westcoast and even manages to climb the Rockies by adding some mean guitaring. Whether this is from 'You Are The Winner' or 'I've Had Enough' which captures an excellent chorus. While we are at it, what about 'Wanna Be With You' for a more laid back outlook, this contains the signatory horns and the mix of Maurice and Philip's vocals.

The chorus of the 'I've Had Enough' is as good as any big name AOR writer can scribble. The flamboyant stage shows, costumes, the overall fest of instruments has much in common with the great rock performances of the likes of Kiss and Dio, as they wage war on the audience.

Outside writers are here as expected, you can find the likes of Greg Phillinganes, Brenda Russell but the greatest contribution is from a guy called Beloyd Taylor with a hat trick of goals. In fact his last being 'The Changing Times' is a classic with the main point of order is again the guitars. There is a partial resemblance to that old Santana rhythm, but the lead is a real Lukather experience, although Steve is nowhere to find on this album. Connection for more rock oriented, would be Speedway Boulevard and seriously Kings X, yes for real, I am finding that Kings X really hold a bad debt to EWF, listen to 'Over My Head' (from the excellent 'Gretchen Goes To Nebraska', another album I have been meaning to cover) and tell me that these two classics don't have the same DNA. This is far the best track, it's an extended routine, but there is no sign of exhaustion.

'The Changing Times' is my favourite EWF song, its epic from start to finish.


In Summary
EWF over the years shown that they have the staying power of Haile Grebrselassie, and like both of these greats they are still smiling, boundless energy and still enjoy what they do. They have an intrinsic motivation to succeed and inner self belief to achieve their targets. While 'I Am' may have the great singles, like the layered experience and explosive shine of 'Boogie Wonderland' (Boogie, has they ever been a word that has dated some much?) with the added bonus of 'The Emotions' and the Westcoast master class of 'After The Love Has Gone' (mark that one down to Champlin, Foster and Graydon), I find 'Raise' a more wholesome sound, especially with the glint of those guitars. It flashes and shines rather than just offering the odd mirror ball moment.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on October 21 2013 01:14:28
'Bout time these guys were included here. Nice review Chris. My favorite EWF track is the Graydon, Foster, Champlin penned 'After The Love Is Gone' which of course was later covered by the mighty Airplay.
#2 | englandashes on October 21 2013 12:05:52
Yep, thanks Eric, I totally forgot about the Airplay version, thanks for the reminder, probably will mention this fact, if and when I get round to covering I Am, cheerio chris
#3 | george_the_jack on October 23 2013 01:24:41
The Graydon-Foster-Champlin written anthem is the greatest westcoast arrangement I have ever heard. A monstrous song! It has to be said though that it's quite ''different'' from anything else EWF have done.
#4 | Eric on October 23 2013 01:45:42
Another song I liked was called 'September' that appeared as a bonus track on one of their 'best of' albums, I think around 1980. Great tune, very poppy. EWF were in a class all by themselves.
 
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