Archive for the ‘Earth Wind & Fire’ Category

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Straight Ahead / Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Listen: Straight Ahead / Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
Straight Ahead / Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Always the ultimate player, Brian Auger seems like he was a pro in the cradle. Go back to his earliest recordings, prior to the big success he had with ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, billed as Julie Driscoll/Brian Auger & The Trinity. You’ll see his virtuosity was fully formed.

In the early 70′s, after Julie Driscoll went her solo route, he toured the world, initially as Brian Auger & The Trinity, quickly morphing into Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, gaining US momentum the whole while. Sharing bills with every type of band (Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers Band., Roland Kirk, Santana, Chick Corea, Led Zeppelin, Earth Wind & Fire, Kiss, Herbie Hancock), they provided just the right amount of high brow musicianship to ecstatically turn both jazz and rock audiences on.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, their many records fell pretty short on US airplay, but sold well nonetheless.

Fast forward to the present, Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express is still playing, dare I say better than ever. I sat smack dab in front of him a few years back, when he shared a bill with an equally stunning Savoy Brown at B.B. King’s in New York, and you could hardly see anything but a blur from those hands.

They just don’t make ‘em like Brian Auger anymore. Sorry.

Earth, Wind & Fire / Ramsey Lewis

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

EWFMightyUKA, Earth Wind & Fire, Columbia, CBS, Warner Brothers

EWFMightyPS, Earth Wind & Fire

Listen: Mighty Mighty / Earth Wind & Fire EWFMighty.mp3

During the summer of ’74 – summer ’75, I worked at Discount Records, then a northeastern chain, owned by CBS, and heavily stocked in catalog. Most record shops in those days carried lots of….records. This was a time when all the excitement happened right there in the store as opposed any of the other shops competing for the youth dollar.

Today it’s known as an Apple Store. Both had genius bars, well no, that’s a lie. Record shops had counters populated by genius record experts. Same difference.

There were a couple of co-workers who relentlessly hogged the turntable, seemingly for the sole purpose of playing Earth Wind & Fire’s newest album, OPEN OUR EYES. I cringed at it’s polish having preferred their previous two Warner Brothers albums. They were way less refined and more street dirty. After all, leader Maurice White had started his professional career in ’69 as a session drummer at Chess, eventually joining The Ramsey Lewis Trio. Then something happened, literally in mid song, I realized I absolutely loved ‘Mighty Mighty’. It was the last track on one of the sides as I recall, and had just been released as a single. How perfect. It’s been a staple ever since.

EWFDrumSongUKB, Earth Wind & Fire

Listen: Drum Song / Earth Wind & Fire EWFDrum.mp3

So once my guard was down, I started noticing a bunch of things in there, like LA’s latin sound, which War had coined a year or two prior, sentimentally grabbing my attention via a first visit in ’73. Plus new to me, African beats. Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata Pata’, shockingly a pop hit several years earlier, was my only exposure at that point. B side of ‘Mighty Mighty’ and album track, ‘Drum Song’ became a favorite even. I was officially a fan.


Listen: Kalimba Story / Earth Wind & Fire EWFKalimba.mp3

Was I happy when ‘Kalimba Story’ was released as a 7″. It was almost too good to be true, being my other favorite from the album. I’ve noticed kalimba on every record they’ve ever made, at least all the ones I know.

RamseyUSA, Earth Wind & Fire, Ramsey Lewis, Columbia

Listen: Sun Goddess / Ramsey Lewis And Earth Wind & Fire EWFSunGoddess.mp3

Full circle to ’75, when Maurice White reunites with Ramsey Lewis to record what would become a #1 Urban classic. These guys had really hit their stride.