Elements – Earth, Wind and Fire on Soul!

Since finishing the book, and this blog post about Maurice White, I’ve been digging through some of my other archives. I found an amazing live performance from the groundbreaking WNET show Soul! broadcast on January 10th, 1973.

The accompanying video, the shows are available via pbs.org in some regions, and via WNET Thirteen, if you can access them. A low res version of which can be seen below via Youtube, is perhaps remarkable for a number of reasons. It documents a group in the midst of change.

The original Earth, Wind and Fire had recorded two albums for Warner Brothers, and then fell apart, as many groups do, with arguments over this, that, money etc. in 1972. This performance featured the core members of what had become EWF 2.0. Cleaves would move on, Ronnie Laws had billing on the recording, but had already quit, others would be added over time.

Featured in this recording were:

Maurice White – Kalimba, Vocals and Percussion
Jessica Cleaves – Vocals
Philip Bailey – Vocals and Congas
Johnny Graham – Guitar
Verdine White – Vocals and Bass
Larry Dunn – Organ and Electric Piano
Ralph Johnson – Drums
Andrew Woolfolk – Sax and Flute

This is the group, plus Andrew McKay, that would go on later in 1973 to record their 4th album, Head to the Sky.

Their dress style hadn’t started evolving yet, here they were dressed, as you’d expect for early 1970’s, their performance style had though. As the last number finished, the group disappeared from the stage, leaving just Ralph Johnson.

Musically, the group show what would become their trademark for the next 10-years, across albums and countless hit singles. The performance opens with one of the best  videos of Maurice White playing the Kalimba; his fingers and thumbs rapidly producing what would become a trademark, and unique sound.

Philip Bailey shows his amazing vocal range on, as far as I’m aware, their only recording of , James Taylors Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight. There is, as there alway would be, the omni-present, bare chested, Verdine White and his amazing bass playing.

The group is already tight and the tracks here, some from the 3rd album Last Days and Time including the opening song, Power.

Overall, for me, this recording has all the elements that made Earth, Wind & Fire. Enjoy.

Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record

I’m not going to drone on here about Frankie Knuckles, I’ve done enough of that on Facebook. This NPR review of Frankies’ impact and his music though contains two of the best ever in a music review

To listen to his “The Bomb Mix” of Chanté Moore’s 1995 R&B song “This Time” is to be suspended in air for 10 minutes.

and

Moore sings Knuckles’ rendition more tenderly (she recut the vocal in his studio, following his directions to sing it at a club-friendly tempo), more like she’s having a secret talk with God, as if she’s praying that this time, heaven allowed, things are going to work out. She’s singing as if she’s asking to be blessed.

As much as people are calling Frankie the “”God Father of House music”, what Frankie really did was kept soul alive.

Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record : NPR.

If you want more of Frankie Knuckles, his personal soundcloud page has dozens of mixes and tracks from over the years. Dimitri from Paris, and many others are producing tribute mixes, also on soundcloud.

Frankie at Kingdom, Austin
(c) Learning secrets

Finally thanks to Christian Barbuto and the folks at Resident Advisor, Learning Secrets, and Kingdom nightclub in Austin for bringing Frankie to town last year. Great to see Christian last night at the impromptu Thursday night Frankie celebration.