Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – #493: Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World (1975)

Just what the world needs – a white dude in 2019 critiquing 1970s funk music.  Well, thanks Rolling Stone!  Here we go…

Earth WF

If you ask me, which I guess you didn’t… these guys are definitely at their best when they up the tempo and boogie down, and they just don’t do that enough here.  There is too much sap, falsetto crooning, and balladry for me.  I pick up some of what they are puttin’ down, but glaze over at the softer songs that give cliche love advice.  This will be short and sweet, friends.

First things first: “Shining Star” is badass and near –perfect.  This is the sound of 70s funk, no doubt. Start with a great beat, and add in horns, keys and guitar.  It’s hard not to hear the music Outkast would go on to make twenty years later in this recording – Andre was clearly influenced by these guys.  “You’re a shining star, no matter who you are; shining bright to see, what you could truly be”.  Please more of this.  “Yearnin’ Learnin’” gives another few minutes of uptempo gladness, although it is playing second fiddle to that album opener.  “Stop and look at what’s behind ya, baby love’s gonna find ya”…

My other highlight from this album is the jazzy instrumental “Africano”, which starts with a flute solo that would make Ron Burgundy proud before transitioning into drum heavy world music that lives up to its title.  Beyond that, there are several drawn out ballads with love advice and so, so much falsetto.  Haters gonna hate, and that ain’t me, I’ll just say that this is a mixed bag in my book.

Worthy Tracks: “Shining Star”, “Yearnin’ Learnin’”, “Africano”

Final Verdict: This album has its moments, and these guys can break it down as well as any 70s funk band, but this is not one of the 500 best albums I have ever heard.  Not hardly.

Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/5tXZfxvr2VaWibD74nw8VL?si=FACdHqmaQWGzU33yt1VwIA