Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died at the beginning of February. The big breakthrough #1 album for Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire is THAT'S THE WAY OF THE WORLD. Released at the end of winter in 1975, the album was also a soundtrack to a Sid Shore film of the same name, written by Robert Lipsyte and starring the great Harvey Keitel. You couldn't go anywhere in a car with the radio on in 1975 without hearing "Shining Star" or "That's the Way of the World," the two big singles off the album. As a kid I liked both. As for Earth, Wind & Fire, the group struck me as magnificent black Hippies. The size of band was awesome, as was Maurice White's incorporation of the exotic sounds of the Frankiphone, an electronically amplified kalimba (African thumb piano), backed up by a horn section, spiced with the immaculate R&B guitar of Al McKay. Listening again to THAT'S THE WAY OF THE WORLD, I was surprised what a masterpiece the record is. Yes, there are the hit singles, which are flawless. But there is also an amazing -- no lie -- breadth of material. Songs like "All About Love," "Reasons" and "See the Light" showcase jazz fusion, disco, prog rock, Billy Paul Philly Soul and traditional African music.
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