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.
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.
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.