Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Earth, Wind & Fire: That's the Way of the World [Columbia, 1975]
Trailing Parliament-Funkadelic in my personal post-Sly sweepstakes, but ahead of War (bombastic), Kool & the Gang (culturally deprived), and hosts of others, this unit can do so many things it qualifies as the one-man band of black music even though it has nine members. Here ethnomusicology and colloquial homiletics are tacked onto the funk and soul and doowop and jazz, which makes for an instructive contrast--the taped-in-Africa Matepe Ensemble, whose spontaneous laughter closes out the coda, versus Maurice White, whose humorless platitutdes prove there's more to roots than turning a mbira into an ersatz vibraphone. B+