Something Else! sneak peek: Earth Wind and Fire, “My Promise” from Now, Then and Forever (2013)

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There’s so much here that’s reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire’s classic late-1970s sound — the urban R&B/pop amalgam, the soaring chorus, the stabbing horns — that it takes a moment to pinpoint what’s different.

Through the band features long-time members Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and Verdine White, EWF moves forward with its initial new studio album since 2005 having lost its creative and emotional center as Maurice White battles Parkinson’s.

The question, of course, is whether “My Promise” could fulfill his initial goals for the group, even in his notable absence — and it does. There remain all of the distinctive threads that wove into a funky new tapestry of soul called Earth Wind and Fire: the soaring vocals of the Temptations, the flashy brass of James Brown, the street-level groove of Sly and the Family Stone. To this, Earth Wind and Fire added their own distinctive positivism, and African-inspired musical elements like the kalimba.

Same here, as “My Promise” (the lead track from the perfectly titled Now, Then and Forever, due September 10, 2013 via Legacy Recordings) more than adequately recalls that time between the charttopping “Shining Star” in 1975 and 1981’s No. 3 hit “Let’s Groove” — a time when Earth Wind and Fire was an unstoppable hit machine.

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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