Sat Eye Candy: Earth Wind & Fire


Earth Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White celebrates his 58th birthday today, and that presents a nice opportunity to blow our horn for one of the longest running funk-soul outfits in the game. One of the first groups in the 1970s to actively bring in African elements like kalimba and a unique tribal-meets-Egyptian-glam fashion sense. The germ of their sound was already well intact on their self-titled 1971 debut, which was followed by several more critical and artistic triumphs before their first of many mega-hits, 1974's still-fresh-as-hell Open Our Eyes. While the band has gotten a touch too slick at times over the years, perhaps too consciously courting public and commercial approval, there's an underlying creativity and good-as-it-gets musicianship to EWF that has sustained them through decades and currently finds them on a joint headlining tour with equally long-lived pals Chicago. The band also recently performed at the Governors' Dinner at the White House in February for big fan President Barack Obama. It does not suck to be Earth, Wind & Fire. We can't say how 'Air' is doing…

The birthday boy leads the charge with serious authority on one of EWF's tightest joints to kick off this week's selection.

Few take it down and hit ya where you live with such off-handed skill as Earth Wind & Fire, as evidenced by this beloved call for world peace that manages to be sincere without being hokey.

So much of the current soul-jazz scene owes deep thanks to what EWF helped establish. Without this band and cuts like this there'd be no Karl Denson's Tiny Universe or myriad others adored in the jam scene.

This is what the proverbial 'good foot' is tapping to.

Now this looks like a really good time! Don't be afraid of the disco, children. It won't bite…hard.

There are many, well, reasons why many ladies love this band. Phillip Bailey utilizes his golden falsetto well here, wooing well despite his clown pants.

Next, a pair of killers with their current tour mates, including a fab turn from Chicago's Bill Champlin (also Sons of Champlin), one of the great, enduring voices in pop/rock (see our 2005 interview with Bill for more).

In 1978 things were SO groovy for EWF that this is how the world looked to them most days.

The guys show off their facility with doo-wop on this certified classic slow jam.

There's not a sunnier way we could think of to boot y'all into a lovely weekend than this number, so we'll conclude here this week. Verdine just murders the low-end on this one, and we want to thank him for his many years of keeping things locked down with such force and style. Happy birthday, brotherman!

And don't forget, you can eyeball video sweetness 24/7 with JamBase TV.

[Published on: 7/25/09]

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