Earth, Wind & Fire – 1973 – Head to the Sky
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A tremendously beautiful album – and a righteous anthem of power and growth that seems to open itself up to us more and more over the years! Earth Wind & Fire are at their height here – mixing together soul and funk with a set of influences that includes African percussion and Brazilian jazz – then blending the whole thing effortlessly into a cosmic sound that’s simply breathless!
“Keep Your Head To The Sky” is a song of pride that became an instant underground classic; “Zanzibar” is an incredible reworking of Edu Lobo’s famous composition, turning the Brazilian baroque track into a spacey groover that soars on for 13 minutes; and “Evil” is a great tune that features the electrified Kalimba that became the band’s sonic and legal trademark over the years!
A1 Evil 4:57
A2 Keep Your Head To The Sky 5:08
A3 Build Your Nest 3:16
A4 The World’s A Masquerade 4:47
B1 Clover 5:21
B2 Zanzibar 13:00
The most complete and consistent EWF studio release in the band’s catalog, encompassing all they were from top to bottom.
You get the hard hitting early funk approach, and some of the polish/sophistication they would be known for, which was less than a year away.
Head To The Sky serves as a transitional record in this respect.
A perfect mixture of what they were and what they would become.
The sound is cleaner than earlier recordings, better realized, and filled with what should have been greatest hits if not for these guys hitting the stratosphere in years to come.
Dig the raw extended guitar solo on “Clover“, the 13 minute jazz funk instrumental “Zanzibar“, the likes of which the band would never revisit again.
Embrace the latin funk of “Evil” or slow jam message song “Keep Your Head To The Sky“, the likes of which the band would embrace and enhance moving forward.
Head To The Sky is a hidden gem.
Having explored the Latin vibes a bit on their last album, the ‘OK’ ‘Last Days and Time’, EW&F delved deeper into the genre with more conviction on their new release ‘Head to the Sky’.
Maurice White‘s understated vocal – which I have always favoured over Philip Bailey‘s falsetto – along with his skills on the kalimba are given the spotlight on the frenzied opening track “Evil“. Furiously catchy, with more booming bass licks from brother Verdine White. The Latin journey is continued on the mellow jazz jam “Clover“, which features some nice, warm flutes.
But EW&F were also masters of funk, as exemplified on the ferocious romp “Build Your Nest” – clavinet, wah wah guitars, crashing drums and that bumping, omnipresent bass… Heavy.
Somewhere in between lies the brooding “Keep Your Head to the Sky“, where the electric guitar weaves a web around the intro, with the sitar taking over thereafter. Bailey takes the lead here, really going over the top as the song progresses.
Far better is the low-key, introspective work-out “The World’s a Masquerade“, with Maurice back on lead. A hypnotizing, ethereal piece of music.
Closing the album is a 13-minute Latin jam entitled “Zanzibar“, which combines Brazilian and Caribbean flavors with street funk and a touch of jazz.
A nice album, ideal for the summer.
You can also enjoy their 1971 debut album in our back pages here