When I started getting more serious about old records, I found a key resource was the Funky 16 corners blog. If you don’t know, now you know. Worth subscribing in your RSS feeds to see the treats. Tons of .mp3s and insight into record nerd-dom. A champion for days. Witness his sunday morning rant about early Earth Wind and Fire.
Maurice White and Wade Flemons (who had some collectible, pre-EWF 45s under his own name) had been working together in Chicago during the 60s, before relocating to Los Angeles near the end of the decade, where they were joined by Verdine White and a large crew of others to form the first version of Earth Wind and Fire.
Their first, self-titled album was recorded in 1970 and released in 1971, and while it does display tastes of the later EWF, there’s a heavier funk at work here, crossed with progressive elements.
The two tunes I bring you today illustrate both sides of that coin.
‘Moment of Truth’ is a serious mover, with some incredibly solid bass playing by Verdine (he’s so much more than just a fine and fancy head of hair) and a horn section that won’t quit.
‘Bad Tune’ has something of a flavor of the times, with a little bit of that Afrocentric hippy thing weaving in and out of the funk (electric kalimba anyone?), opening quietly, getting heavy and then dissolving into a trippy, jazzy sound with some nice guitar by Michael Beal, before picking up heat yet again with some fuzz bass.
And – this is the cool part – they manage to pack all that into less than five minutes, displaying a shocking economy for the time.