The Band: Drummer and vocalist Maurice White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in 1970. You could staff an entire basketball league with the number of musicians who have passed through EWF, but in 1972 singer Philip Bailey became the band’s focal point with his castrati-like range. Bailey’s high-flying vocals paired nicely with White’s more husky, countrified delivery, and the combo charted a number of hits with various styles, ranging from the breezy funk of “Shining Star” to the cosmos-exploring “Fantasy."
The Song: If you had to pick one Earth, Wind & Fire song at the expense of all the rest, it would have to be “Reasons.” Everything about this track is perfect – the punchy electric piano, breathy horn lines and stutter-step drum breaks all build to a crystal-cracking crescendo. If heaven has a waiting room, this song is playing on a constant loop over the intercom.
The Video: This concert recording, filmed in 1982, sacrifices some of the smoothness of the recorded version by ramping up the backbeat, but it’s worthwhile to hear Bailey’s scat-like riffs on the song’s theme, as well as his lovey-dovey introduction. Just remember to shield your eyes from Bailey’s gold -lamé headband and vest-pants combo; EWF’s stage costumes make their soul-funk brethren in the Commodores seem dignified by comparison.
Hipster Cachet: Bailey found some crossover success by pairing up with another Philip – Mr. Phil Collins – for the smash hit “Easy Lover.” Watch the video, complete with sweater vests and helicopters, below.
-- Christian Schaeffer