Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power

I vaguely remember that our friend Lynn Takigawa went to a concert featuring both Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire, either in 1974 or 1975. Both were in their prime. Tower of Power’s lineup was in constant flux, and disintegrated rather quickly. After I graduated from high school in 1975 and moved on to college, Earth, Wind and Fire became so smooth and polished as to lose their edge. I began my jazz education in college and moved on. These two fine bands made a significant impact in the early 1970s. Talented big bands with great horn sections, pioneers of syncopated rhythm in soul music, singing sweet songs of love. What ever hapened to the sweetness in music? I say it went both ways, either sickly sweet or downright cold.

I’m shocked Tower of Power is not included in the All Music Guide. Perhaps no new ground is covered, but the music is compelling, especially the horn section.

Here are songs to consider for the iPod:

Sparkling In The Sand, Tower of Power ✭✭

Down To The Nightclub, Tower of Power ✭✭✭✭
You’re Still A Young Man, Tower of Power ✭✭✭✭

What Is Hip?, Tower of Power ✭✭✭
This Time It’s Real, Tower of Power ✭✭✭
Get Yo’ Feet Back On The Ground, Tower of Power ✭✭
So Very Hard To Go, Tower of Power ✭✭✭
Soul Vaccination, Tower of Power ✭✭

Willing To Learn, Tower of Power ✭✭✭
Only So Much Oil In The Ground, Tower of Power

Ain’t Nothin Stoppin’ Us Now, Tower of Power ✭✭

Earth, Wind & Fire experienced far greater success, achieving worldwide popularity. They struggled to find their voice for years before writing memorable songs and finding a formula for success. Most of the songs I like are found on the allbums That’s The Way Of The World and Gratitude. I also like “Evil” from Head To The Sky. Of the later 1970s stuff, I included “September” almost gratuitously, as it is immensely popular. In addition, The band does a fine interpretation of the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life”. The rest of their later work is just too polished for me. That’s OK; everybody has a peak period, and forunately for me, it came at the right time.

I wish I could find a vintage video of the band playing “That’s The Way Of The World” or “Can’t Hide Love”. In particular, “Can’t Hide Love” has a unique structure and cadence. By 1981 everything sounds too smoothed out, but the groove is still there:

Evil, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
Keep Your Head To The Sky, Earth, Wind & Fire

Devotion, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
Shining Star, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭
That’s The Way Of The World, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭✭
Yearnin’ Learnin’, Earth, Wind & Fire
Reasons, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭

Sing A Song, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
Can’t Hide Love, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭✭
Devotion (live), Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
Sun Goddess (live), Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
Reasons (live), Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭

Got To Get You Into My Life, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭✭
September, Earth, Wind & Fire ✭✭

2 thoughts on “Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power

  1. Richard Supan August 12, 2009 / 12:25 AM

    Can’t Hide Love is a very underrated song. It was a studio add to the end of the Gratitude album, which was recorded live. I’ve seen them live twice, most recently in 2007 at an outside venue in Los Gatos, CA. They had a nice little comeback song “The Way You Move” with Outkast in 2003. Two other EWF songs I like: Boogie Wonderland (with the Emotions)and Let’s Groove. The latter song has been picked the #1 “Old School” hit by many radio stations.

    Tower of Power is simply one of the Bay Area’s all time bands. I first saw them in 1971 and they can put on a show.
    The only song not on the list I really liked was “Back on the Streets Again”.

    • theperfectipodcollection August 12, 2009 / 4:06 AM

      Damn, you’re all over this thing. I’m glad you enjoy it.

      I’ll give a listen to “The Way You Move” and see what I think.
      I just can’t pull the trigger on “Boogie Wonderland”, despite the extra credit it gets for being in Caddyshack. Rodney throwing cash at the band, etc.
      Same with “Back On The Streets Again”. I listened this morning and decided against it.

      It gets to be a tough call. I can’t include every good song by every worthy band. Some very good bands will get one song. I like both of these bands alot, which means they each get 10-15 songs.

      I have a nice idea for you. I will e-mail privately to share.


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