Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Earth, Wind & Fire: Earth, Wind & Fire [Warner Bros., 1971]
This postsoul big band isn't as messy as the sum of its cross-references; on the second side especially, the heavy guitar, post-Memphis horns, and off-center 4/4 all work to similarly disquieting effect, and even the African kalimba is suitably weird. But at times the brass locks into gear just like Vegas, and the expert vocal harmonies neither fit the concept nor assert any personality of their own. Worse, even the songs that work when you're listening have a way of slipping away unnoticed once the record is over. C+