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NR (Not Rated)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Though I know they made 3 albums before this one with an early line up of some of the best jazz players of the time and future jazz players even (Hubert & Ronnie Laws)... 1973's "Head To The Sky" was my first introduction to the elements of the universe aka Earth, Wind & Fire! They are my all-time favorite band and this is the album that started that love affair between them and myself!
In 1973, I was a 9 yr old kid who was developing my own burgeoning musical gifts, and boy, was there so many great musical mentors from that time to follow... Stevie was in the middle of his incredible creative run with "Innervisions" taking the world by storm! Donny Hathaway was at his brilliant peak with the now iconic "Extensions Of A Man".. ( I miss Donny!) WAR was groovin' with "Deliver The Word", Sly Stone was bumpin' the airwaves with his last good effort "Fresh", a pre-mothership Funkadelic...
Some may prefer EWF's more polished, radio-friendly recordings from the mid-to-late 70's, but 1973's "Head To The Sky" is one of their greatest efforts. This early in the game EWF were alerady composing angelic ballads like "World's A Masquerade", displaying their infallible skill for harmony arrangements. The opening track, "Evil" is a mysterious piece, incorporating funk guitars, latin rhythms, ghostly back-up vocals and Maurice White's ever-present kalimba, which is used here to spooky effect. "Build Your Nest" is a favorable funk jam, the ballad "Keep Your Head To The Sky" showcases Phillip Bailey's and Jessica Cleaves' wonderful falsetto voices. The last two tracks, "Clover" and "Zanzibar" incoporate funk, rock, african & latin rhythms into spacious instrumental jams that would become absent from their later records and appear only onstage. The album also features wonderful horn...
Zanzibar is one of the great extended jazz-rock numbers of the early seventies. It is on a par with the Rascal's Peaceful World and Parliment's Maggot Brain. It lies about half way between the two in intensity. At over 15 minutes, it is a departure from the rest of EWF' other music and probably alienates a number of fans and short attention span reviewers. I give the album 5 stars based on this cut. The others are more traditional soul, and are very good. EWF had not gotten into the pop stage yet.
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