Published Oct 28, 2014Earth, Wind & Fire have been sending a musically soulful message of unity, positivity and spirituality for almost a half-century, so it seems surprising that it's taken them 21 albums to finally release a Christmas set. But Holiday is here, and it's anything but the uninspired, calculated cash grab that's become all too synonymous with yuletide offerings. A gospel-ized, funky "Joy To The World" opens the album in typically rousing EW&F style, proving that their revitalization on last year's Now, Then & Forever was anything but a fluke.
Philip Bailey's buttery falsetto is tailor-made for a blissful "Away In A Manger" and the group's fusion of world rhythms turns "The Little Drummer Boy" into a syncopated delight that features touches of kalimba. If reboots of EW&F standards such as "Happy Feelins" and "September" (re-titled "Happy Seasons" and "December") seem a tad obvious, they're at least worthy updates, while a snazzy, uptempo "Winter Wonderland" should fill the dance floor at a holiday party; meanwhile, a reverential "The First Noel" encapsulates some of the mystery of the holiday season. (Legacy)