Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times — for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That’s ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud.

Fortunately they had a lot to work with: these live tracks are VERY WELL RECORDED. The sound is rich, smooth, sweet, and tonally correct. The sound is big, wall to wall as we like to say, and on the best copies the presence of the vocalists puts them right in front of you. You can clearly make out each of the voices in the choruses. What a sound! Nobody does harmonies better than these guys. For audiophiles with big speakers who like to play their music loud, the sound is GLORIOUS! 

As you may have read elsewhere on the site, the high point for me on this record is the song “Can’t Hide Love”, the best track this band ever recorded and a work of True Pop Genius. (Check out side four for the best lineup of any side.) Grammy nominated for Best Arrangement For Voices, it’s hard to imagine that another song beat it. The album was of course nominated as well.

The second best thing about this album is that it allows Earth, Wind & Fire to stretch out and incorporate some funky jazz into their music, like on “Sun Goddess”, a song that they recorded with Ramsey Lewis and which doesn’t appear on any other EW&F album. They do a couple of extended saxophone solos on the live stuff that really take the songs to another level. The band is on fire for practically every track here. This and The Greatest Hits Volumes One get you most of what’s great about the band. Both are Must Owns for anyone who likes Big Production Pop, soulful and otherwise.

Side One

A+++ Demo Disc Master Tape Sound! Extension on the top and the bottom that most copies fail to achieve. Tonally balanced too.

Side Two

A+ to A++. Rich but not jumpin’ out of the speakers like the other sides.

Side Three

A+++ again. So present and transparent, the musicians are RIGHT THERE.

Side Four

A+++ for the third time, with space and air around the vocalists on Can’t Hide Love and clean, note-like bass. Tons of LIFE make this music come alive. 

Old News

A while back I happened to have heard the Gastwirt mastered CD and noted: What a joke! LIFELESS and DULL. This record kills it! If you want to hear this music right you better own this record or one like it, otherwise you are wasting your time. (Of course, since this is a Hot Stamper copy, “one like it” is hard to find. But if you don’t want to buy one from us, get a hold of any LP you can, because this music belongs in your collection.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One (Live)

Introduction by Mc Perry Jones
Medley: Africano/Power
Yearnin’ Learnin’
Devotion

Side Two (Live)

Sun Goddess Track Commentary

Wonderful!

Reasons Track Commentary

Another killer track.

Sing a Message to You

Side Three (In The Studio)

Shining Star
New World Symphony
Sunshine

Side Four (In The Studio)

Sing a Song
Gratitude
Celebrate
Can’t Hide Love

AMG Review

With That’s the Way of the World having made Earth, Wind & Fire one of the best-selling soul bands of the 1970s, Maurice White and co. had no problem filling large arenas. As dynamic as EWF was on-stage, it’s a shame that there isn’t more documentation of the band’s live show. Only one live EWF album was released by a major label in America, the superb Gratitude…

Gratitude brilliantly captures the excitement EWF generated on-stage at its creative peak. Neither hardcore EWF devotees nor more casual listeners should deprive themselves of the joys of the live versions of “Shining Star” and “Yearnin’ Learnin’.”