Ranking Earth, Wind & Fire’s top 40 singles

If “After the Love Has Gone” is their dullest single, then I’m prepared to advance this Maurice White collective as the most consistent and thrilling of the seventies.

A few notes:

1. Philip Bailey is church (e.g. “Reasons”).
2. George Clinton must have been, ah, delighted with the allusion to “I Bet You” in “Can’t Hide Love”
3. One of my earliest musical memories is rollerskating to “Let’s Groove.”
4. About “Fantasy” Eric Henderson wrote recently: “If there’s a heaven I expect this song to be heavily featured on the playlists.”
5. The brittleness of their early eighties records (“Lady Sun,” “I’ve Had Enough,” “Fall in Love with Me”) reveals a new buoyancy; if the singles sound thin, they’re concentrating on a chorus they can see in their scopes and know they’ll hit.

Meh

Boogie Wonderland (with The Emotions)
After the Love Has Gone

Sound, Solid Entertainment

Saturday Nite
Fall in Love with Me
Mighty Mighty
Got to Get You into My Life
Devotion
Can’t Hide Love

Good to Great

Fantasy
Serpentine Fire
Shining Star
Getaway
September
Sing a Song
Can’t Hide Love
That’s the Way of the World
Let’s Groove

1 thought on “Ranking Earth, Wind & Fire’s top 40 singles

  1. Jukebox

    Philip Bailey is church but the preacher was Maurice White- I agree (Getaway is in my list in 76!) except on “Fantasy”, their first huuugge hit of them here, followed by “September”. Their first Greatest Hits, in short.
    As I came to appreciate their ease with rythms as an adult, I came suspicious with their high spiritualism, ecumenical beliefs and Egypt-mania, like they were purveyors of that 70s necrophiliac trend of Grand revelations and ultimate truths coming from a pre-Christian Era. They were an “ancient African Community” that came on a spaceship to Earth to save the world (they presumably built those Pyramids). Like a sort of conceptual, R&B Pink Floyd.
    I prefer them funkier and more pagan. More “Serpentine Fires” (incredible Bailey didn’t know at that time that White was referring to the “morning glory” of waking up with a wood, which leads me to believe they could be really naive) and less melodic, although “Reasons” is a jam for the ages. But they distanced themselves enough of units like P-Funk (allusions nothwitstanding) to create their own Universe. I grant them that. I wish I like their “disco” phase better: Daa-y-aa, whatever. “Boogie Wonderland” is a low point for their music, but high on my “rollerskating” youth. I think I’m slightly older than you.

    Reply

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