1972 Case File #97.

Earth, & Fire, Last Days and Time

File Between: Sly & the Family Stone and Herbie Hancock

Comments: While it would be stretching a point to call this a great record, it’s pretty clear at this point that Earth, Wind & Fire are a great band, capable of tackling a wide variety of genres with committed sincerity and beguiling musicianship, from the very Slyish funk of opener “Time Is on My Side” (not the Irma Thomas/Rolling Stones classic) to the slick electric jazz of “Power” to the sweet covers of Bread (“Make It With You”) and Pete Seeger/everyone (“Where Have All the Flowers Gone”). Closer “Mom” was even a minor hit, if only just less saccharine than you would expect from the title. Their next record would be their breakout hit, and they would increasingly own the 70s from there, but Last Days and Time, though it never reaches the apocalyptic insanity promised by its title and cover, is still well worth getting to know. Maurice White and Philip Bailey are already fully-formed, but it’s good to hear Jessica Cleaves, who would leave the band soon after, get to solo on “I’d Rather Have You.” Ronnie Laws’ soprano sax still takes some getting used to in the post-Kenny G era, but I’m willing to listen to EWF as long and concertedly as it takes to drive the Ringleted One out of my head.

A Keeper? The sleeve art is a classic all its own; and the music’s not too shabby either.

Vinyl Rip: Time Is on My Side

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