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Earth, Wind & Fire
Now, Then & Forever


As I listen to Earth, Wind & Fire’s 21st studio release, Now, Then & Forever, I’m reminded of Bonnaroo twitter followers posting their Wish Lists for the 2014 edition. With the festival regularly honoring the music world’s past stars such as James Brown, Al Green, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers and ZZ Top, it would be a thrill to hear EWF down on the farm turning on several generations of listeners. Even during the cloudy and cold days of winter, the group’s classic funk ‘n’ soul acts as ray of sunshine that breaks through the grey skies.

The majority of the album’s 10 tracks recall the band’s glory days with a sound that’s descended from the smooth grooves of past hits such as “September,” “Fantasy” and “Can’t Hide Love.” As per its platinum-selling formula, horns punctuate the arrangements in ways that support the verse, chorus and fill up the spaces in between like a perfectly-placed drum fill. On numbers such as “Sign On,” “My Promise and “Got to Be Love,” EWF doesn’t just repeat what’s worked before but remains faithful to it.

There are several songs when the band steps away from its patented soul funk sound — the Latin instrumental, “Belo Horizonte,” the harder funk and flashy production on “Dance Floor” and atmospheric “Splashes.” While it temporarily alters a familiar course, the trio of tracks represents that even in the band’s 44th year the members remain interested in musically moving things in new directions.

With a solid catalog of timeless singles along with these songs from “Now, Then & Forever” here’s to hoping that after Earth, Wind & Fire has displayed it still has strong musical chops it’s enough to end up making someone’s wish comes true with an appearance at Bonnaroo.

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