Garage Sale Vinyl
Garage Sale Vinyl: Earth, Wind & Fire

Garage Sale Vinyl: Earth, Wind & Fire

All ‘n All / Columbia Records / November 1977

Wow — check this out! Just last weekend, I was headed from my funky abode in Cocoa Beach to my 7:00 Sunday night DJ gig, 30 minutes south, at Wid’s Place in Melbourne. At least that was my intention, anyway. But I actually wound up at — the Earth, Wind & Fire concert! Unexpected wackiness like this happens in my life all the time. And when it does, I just hang on and roll with it.

Toting my laptops, cables, and mics, I strolled into Wid’s Place at 6:30 p.m. As I began flipping on the booth lights and firing up the power amps, my phone pinged at 6:35. It was Sam, my longtime drummer buddy from the local music scene. In short order, he explained how he and his celebrated vocalist bandmate, Ana, were with a few other friends at a local venue, attending that night’s live performance by the iconic R&B troupe. But there was a tiny “snag” — they had an extra FREE ticket that needed to be claimed, pronto! WTF, dude? “We jus’ gon’ leave it fo ya at Will Call,” Sam informed me, clearly unwilling to take “no” for an answer.

All 'n All, Columbia Records, November 1977
photo by Christopher Long
All ‘n All, Columbia Records, November 1977

Lickety-split, I got the club owner, Wid, on the phone and apprised him of the situation. “So, you’re telling me that you’re bailing on me tonight,” Wid replied. “No,” I clarified quickly. “I’m asking if I can bail on you tonight.” “What time does the show start?” he asked. “7:30,” I said. “What time is it now?” he asked. “6:45,” I said. In classic Wid fashion, he shot back — “Well, what the hell are you doing still talking to me? Go have a good time.” What a kind and compassionate man!

Since my earliest recollections as a music-crazed, pre-pube drooler, I’ve clutched four R&B “aces” close to my chest; Rufus, the Ohio Players, Parliament, and — Earth, Wind & Fire. Truth be told, I even had the MASSIVE group poster from inside the 1977 album, All ‘n All taped up on my bedroom wall, right up until 1985, when I got engaged and moved out of my parents’ house to get my own place. Where that poster is now, I have no idea.

The Earth, Wind & Fire legacy is legendary. Their platinum-selling album catalog is impressive. And their string of chart-busting hit singles — seemingly endless. Can you imagine how ol’ CeeLo and André would have gotten by without having Earth, Wind & Fire to lean on for inspiration? I shudder to think.

Despite their incredible achievements, accolades, AND my own extreme personal passion, I’d never actually been to an EWF concert. Yet, oddly, all I could think about as I made the 18-minute commute from Wid’s Place to the King Center was, “Holy shit! I’m about to finally see THE Verdine White LIVE!” When I called up my writing partner and pro touring bassist, Bryan “Dingus” Dumas, while en route to the show, he had only TWO comments; “That’s fantastic!” and “Tell Verdine I said, ‘Hi.’”

Maybe it’s because he just always looked cool. Maybe it’s because of the jaw-dropping gatefold album cover pics I used to see of him levitating, onstage. Maybe it’s because he’s one monster of a musician. But Verdine White always has been MY “guy” — held in the highest regards, along with Bootsy Collins and Bernard Edwards on my (very) short personal list of baddest badass bass players. Heck, even the “smart” writers over at Rolling Stone rank Verdine among their Top 20 all-time greatest.

All 'n All, Columbia Records, November 1977
photo by Christopher Long
All ‘n All, Columbia Records, November 1977

So, I get to the concert, and my FREE ($75 face value) ticket was in fact waiting for me at Will Call. As I made my way through the security checkpoint and into the packed lobby, I couldn’t help but notice that there were more fetching 60-year-old kitties cattin’ around than I could shake my multiple restraining orders at. PLUS, I was finally about to see THE Verdine White, LIVE. This is gonna be a GREAT night!

And it was great. Even after more than 50 years, the current 12-piece Earth, Wind & Fire lineup still consists of THREE original members, including vocal powerhouse Philip Bailey and percussionist / vocalist Ralph Johnson. But when I saw Verdine step onto the stage, donning glitter tails with matching Oz-like kicks and draped with his prized fire-engine-red Sadowsky bass, I didn’t know whether to wet myself or storm the stage and love all over him. Hmm. I opted for neither. And he definitely did NOT disappoint. That gorgeous man swaggered, popped, slapped, thumped, and sweat his way through the entire show — like the muther-luvin’ superstar he is.

Of course, the band was impeccable. The 75-minute setlist — totally predictable. And what a beautiful performance and magical experience it was. But it got me to thinking again about that record, my much-loved Earth, Wind & Fire album, All ‘n All. Recently, I learned that the GF owned TWO, slightly abused vinyl copies. Really? My own copy had vanished decades ago — although I did still have it on CD. Don’t judge me! So, not too long ago, I’d traded one of my discarded Streisand LPs for one of her EWF duplicates. And I was SO amped to have All ‘n All back in my personal vinyl collection.

Produced by the band’s visionary patriarch, the late Maurice White, All ‘n All was the eighth Earth, Wind & Fire studio set. Bursting funk-fueled grooves and oozing jazz-inspired cred while packing plenty of pop-rock appeal, the irresistible 11-track collection crushed the Billboard Top Ten album chart. It has since sold more than three million copies.

All ‘n All was a particularly important Earth, Wind & Fire record. In addition to owning two (more) wildly popular Top 40 hits, “Serpentine Fire” and “Fantasy,” the album further showcased the band’s overall world-class songwriting talent, masterful musicianship, and bankable production skills. As a result, All ‘n All served as a platform from which Earth, Wind & Fire truly was launched into the stratosphere. It remains one of their best and brightest efforts to date.

BTW, I finally got to see THE Verdine White LIVE the other night. #BucketListNearlyCompleted

(5/5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

All 'n All, Columbia Records, November 1977
photo by Christopher Long
All ‘n All, Columbia Records, November 1977

All ‘n All Track List

SIDE ONE

  1. Serpentine Fire (M. White, V. White, S. Burke) – 3:51

  1. Fantasy (M. White, V. White, E. del Barrio) – 4:38

  1. In the Marketplace, Interlude (M. White) – 0:43

  1. Jupiter (M. White, V. White, L. Dunn, P. Bailey) – 3:12

  1. Love’s Holiday (M. White, S. Scarborough) – 4:23

  1. Brazilian Rhyme, Interlude (M. Nascimento) – 1:20

SIDE TWO

  1. I’ll Write a Song For You (P. Bailey, A. McKay, S. Beckmeier) – 5:23

  1. Magic Mind (L. Dunn, P. Bailey, A. McKay, M. White, V. White, F. White) – 3:38

  1. Runnin’ (M. White, L. Dunn, E. del Barrio) – 5:50

  1. Brazilian Rhyme, Interlude (M. Nascimento) – 0:53

  1. Be Ever Wonderful (M. White, L. Dunn) – 5:08

Earth, Wind & Fire – Home


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