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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'The Essential Earth Wind & Fire'
Artist - Earth Wind & Fire'

EWF not only was THE R&B group; they ARE to this day! Let's make this review short and straight to the point. In the 70's it was rare to find a group who could dabble with disco (except the Rolling Stones) and still come out cool. 'Boogie Wonderland' not only gave them a huge hit, but it didn't box them into the disco corral like other longtime acts of the same genre (see Sister Sledge for hefty proof of that).

The difference? Strong material, a great band and the phenomenal lead vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey. We are talking a group that's superiorly gifted to start with, then we add creativity, mixed musical genres that didn't have them easily confined to a pigeon hole, and voila! Truly, with a mixture of soul, funk, disco, jazz, pop, and African influences, we have a very potent group that lives up to their name.

All my favorite tracks from I Am are included here, plus the hits we all know and love - but I sure would have loved the inclusion of jazz fusion piece 'Runnin' on here as well. Oh, well, what can you expect in a compilation? I love this collection well enough, and I simply have to add that, no enthusiast of cover tunes in general practice, I think their version of Lennon and McCartney's 'Got to Get You Into My Life' is easily the classiest and most innovative take of the song I've ever come across.

In fact, it's better than the original, and that's saying quite a bit! If you want to listen to a real R&B act people will still be listening to 100 years from now, buy this compilation to start with, and then branch out. EWF are excellent beyond compare!

And, as this very same compilation has been out before, let me make you aware that this splendid 2014 version of their definitive, career-spanning and comprehensive essential-listening songs now comes with a set of full liner notes and photos for the complete experience.