Saturday, November 30, 2013

Earth, Wind & Fire - Electric Universe

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Electric Universe, the thirteenth studio album from Earth, Wind and Fire. It charted at number 40 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 22 in the Netherlands, and number 8 on the US Billboard R&B Album chart.

Side one opens with the electronic infused “Magnetic”. Written by keyboard player Martin Page, it is no surprise that it is very heavy on the synthesizers and drum machines. As the first single, it went to number 92 in the UK, number 57 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 36 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 18 in the Netherlands, and number 10 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“Touch”, the second single, charted in the US at number 103 on the Billboard Hot 200, number 26 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 23 on the Billboard R&B chart. This smooth mid-tempo tune is a lot lighter and cleaner musically.

“Moonwalk” was released as the third single in May of 1984. It is has a good beat and pleasing backing vocal harmonies from Beloyd Taylor, Pamela Hutchinson and Wanda Vaughn. The saxophone accents are courtesy of Andrew Woolfolk.

The ballad “Could It Be Right” is also very stripped down. Philip Bailey’s vocals are in the main spotlight here.

Side two starts with “Spirit of a New World”. I like how Verdine White’s bass line works with the drums and David Foster’s keyboards. Lyrically, though, this “welcome to a new age” message fails to get me too excited.

The B-side to the second single was “Sweet Sassy Lady”, a slinky number that lives up to its name.

The ballad “We’re Living In Our Own Time” was the B-side to the third single. Maurice White lays on the falsetto for this one.

The album closes with “Electric Nation”, an up-tempo dance number. Like the album opener, this one leans more to the electronic side and celebrates the new direction of music.

I had not heard any of Electric Universe prior to doing this review. That is not really a big surprise as it did not have the chart power as earlier Earth, Wind & Fire albums. I was not listening much to R&B-centric radio stations during this part of the 80’s and thus my chances of running across even the singles were pretty slim. That being said, I found it was an okay album; there were pieces of each track that I enjoyed. I think it if had one or two stronger hits that it could have attracted a wider audience.

For 1981’s Raise!, click here.

For Powerlight from February of 1983, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Put me down as really liking "Magnetic" - I even bought the 12" with a John "Jellybean" Benitez remix and a sweet instrumental version of the song - but not really caring for the rest of the album.

Beginning of the end creatively for the band.