Earth, Wind, and Fire Now, Then & Forever

Earth, Wind, and Fire Now, Then & Forever
8
After almost 45 years of delivering their groundbreaking and commercially uber-successful fusion of funk, soul, jazz, rock and world rhythms, it might seem only natural to forgive Earth, Wind & Fire for resting on their laurels and going the way of too many of their era's brethren, recording little, if anything, of note while recycling past hits on the lucrative oldies casino circuit. You wouldn't expect an album as pertinent and vibrant as Now, Then & Forever (their 20th studio offering), but effervescent opening cut "Sign On," with its potent rhythmic drive, infectious chorus and sinewy horn charts, is vintage Earth, Wind & Fire, in the best sense, delivering a joyous call to consciousness and unity that's simultaneously refined and spirited. Devoid of the guest appearances and collaborations that cluttered 2005's noble Illumination, Now, Then & Forever showcases a purer distillation of the group's vibe. "Love Is Law" has a sophisticated, yet fluid bounce, featuring vocalist Philip Bailey, whose falsetto has aged like fine wine. "Got To Be Love" is a pulsing, baby-making jam perfect for the upcoming fall season, while instrumental "Splashes" is a flowing slice of cosmic jazz. Now, Then & Forever is a more than worthy addition to the Earth Wind & Fire catalogue. (Sony Legacy)