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Top 26 Best Earth, Wind & Fire Songs of All Time

There are plenty of bands that helped popularize funk and take it to a wider audience. In the UK, the Average White Band was excelling with hit albums. In America, there was Sly And The Family Stone, and then Earth Wind and Fire.

So, let’s take an in-depth look at the best Earth Wind and Fire songs of all time.

Best Earth Wind and Fire Songs of All Time

An Evolving Band

Over the years, they evolved into many things and were known for Soul, Funk, Jazz, R&B, Disco, Pop, and even Latin styles. They used dozens of musicians and singers in those line-ups, all of them very talented. But, the one constant was founder member, Maurice White.

Singer, songwriter, drummer, and producer, he knew where he wanted the band to go at various times. Since their first release, they have sold over 90 million albums worldwide across a variety of genres.

In The Beginning

They were formed initially in Chicago by session drummer Maurice White under the name of the ‘Salty Peppers.’ They didn’t achieve much, and he set up a new band in Los Angeles. Their first album, released in 1971, called Earth Wind & Fire / Need Of Love, made a few people sit up and take notice.

People have been taking notice ever since. Sometimes, it is hard to know where they fit. Placing them in a genre is just not possible; they change around so much. But, does there have to be a little box to put them in? I don’t think so.

Let’s go through Earth Wind and Fire’s best songs, starting with…

Top 26 Best Earth, Wind & Fire Songs of All Time

1
Devotion

Let’s start with a song that typifies the Earth Wind and Fire sound, but a song that wasn’t a big hit. It was released in 1974 and taken from the album, Open Our Eyes.

One of the great things about Maurice White, and therefore, Earth Wind and Fire as a band, was their ability to sneak up on you. He always liked to squeeze a little of his jazz influence into some songs, and this is one of those. Although, there is another reason I have included this song, more on that in a minute.

Cool…

Probably the only way to describe this track. Typical tight vocals and easygoing sound, with just that hint of jazz thrown in. This might not have set the charts alight, but it was always a favorite at their live shows.

Not only cool but a tender song. Was that Maurice sending a message? Vietnam was drawing to its ugly conclusion, and America felt anything but tender. The song itself is a masterclass. Chords that shimmer, nice accents, and a fusion between soul and R&B with that bit of jazz thrown in.

What was the reason I included it? Listen to Verdine White’s bass line. If you want an education on the bass guitar, you could benefit from this. Working with his brother on drums, it is a classic combination of two great musicians laying down a groove.

2
Shining Star

In 1975, Earth Wind and Fire started to come of age, and this song was one of the first that I heard. I was an admirer of the Average White Band, and a friend said listen to this. It was the album, That’s The Way Of The World, their sixth album release.

This track was one of the album’s stand-out songs. It had similar ideas to the AWB album a year before. But, this took that sound and style to another level. For that reason, it is one of the best Earth Wind and Fire songs of all time.

It became their first #1 album on the Soul Chart in America and #12 on the Standard Chart. The single went to #1 on both charts. Making it one of Earth Wind and Fire’s most popular songs ever.

The Formula

They were beginning to get this funk, R&B formula off to a tee. Maurice’s great drumming, along with brother Verdine’s bass lines. But, this was special, and the combinations worked between the pair are excellent, even by today’s standards.

The album was a slow starter sales-wise, but “Shining Star” lifted it out of potential mediocrity. People were beginning to get what Earth Wind and Fire were all about. The album and this single could be described as a major turning point in their career.

3
Boogie Wonderland

Now for a change of pace and style, and to a certain extent, attitudes. Not everyone was particularly enamored with the idea of Earth Wind and Fire going Disco. They went through what you might call a “disco” era. This song was released at the peak of that period.

One of the problems was that they had always been considered serious musicians. More than that, exceptional ones. So, to see them dressed up like Christmas trees prancing around to a “neo-Saturday Night Fever” style didn’t suit everyone.

It was released as a single in 1979 from the album I Am. It was still a huge hit that reached #6 on the main American chart. If you want one of Earth Wind and Fire’s greatest disco songs, this is the one.

A Natural Extension

To many, the involvement of Earth Wind and Fire in the “disco scene” was a natural extension of what they did. Musically, it might have been, albeit they took it way further in musical quality than all the others.

To some, it was a sell-out for money, and they had become just another Bee Gees. The Disco Era, though, was almost at its end. It had become a worldwide, not just an American, phenomenon. But, in some quarters, it was hated and despised, as were those involved.

Some would say that the “anti-disco riot” in Chicago in 1979 brought about a rather abrupt end.

A Prediction, Maybe?

Were the lyrics in this song, dark as they were, predicting the end? They are quite grim and hint at anguish and desperation. Maybe Maurice was being cleverer than we all realized and telling us it was all about to end.

Whatever the story behind the song, it bears all the hallmarks of what they were musically. But don’t watch the video if “Saturday Night Fever” isn’t your thing.

4
Let’s Groove

Disco might have died by the time this track emerged in 1981, but this might have been seen as a last hurrah. This is a track that is full of what you could call a driving sound of synthetic funk. 

All the rhythms and signs were there that it was disco; it just wasn’t. But, disco or not, it was one of Earth Wind and Fire’s biggest dance hits. It was taken from their eleventh studio album, Raise!.

The beginning of EDM?

Synthesizers took center stage and the brass, so important in previous tracks, was rather insignificant. The Vocoder at the beginning set the tone for what was essentially the precursor of an EDM track. It was a period in which many thought they were unsure of what they were trying to be.

The jazz, funk thing, it could be argued, had disappeared. Taken over by the glitzy dance music videos. Nevertheless, it was one of the most successful Earth Wind and Fire songs.

It went to #1 in America and the UK, and other countries. Thereby making it one of the best Earth Wind and Fire songs of all time.

5
September 

Maurice White had always been the driving force behind the band, in whatever guise it presented itself. Not afraid to try new things in different ways. As a result, he penned one of the most well known Earth Wind and Fire songs ever.

One thing he did very well was to create songs that were guaranteed to fill a dance floor. Even in those early days of the first albums, the jazz, funk, and R&B blend gave us plenty of stylish rhythms. A rhythm that was lapped up by the nightclubs and, later, the disco fraternity.

“September” was released in 1978 and taken from their The Best of Earth Wind & Fire Vol. 1 album. Right in the middle of the ‘disco’ thing, it was bound to be a success and reached #8 in America and #3 in the UK. It was used in the final party scene at the end of the 2006 film “Night at the Museum.”

6
Sing a Song

A song from 1976 that was taken from their double album, Gratitude. It is very typical of their early style, with just a hint of where Maurice White was trying to move the band. 

Essentially it is a pop song but with plenty of extras. As was so often the case in those early days, Maurice and Verdine Whites’ contribution drives it along. It comes over at a nice pace with plenty of intricacies going on and helps to create the happy feel this track certainly has. It reached #5 on the American chart.

7
After the Love Has Gone

How about a classy ballad as we move towards the end because they could do that as well. “After The Love Has Gone” is a great ballad that could have been sung by Lionel Ritchie. It was another track that was taken from the album I Am.

Released in 1979, it was to no one’s surprise that it did well. It reached #4 in the UK and #2 in America. It is a beautifully crafted and produced song that showed there was another side to them.

Not From Maurice

This is a track not written by Maurice White but by David Foster, Jay Graydon, and Bill Champlin. It took some time for them to record it and to get the mood as it should be. But, when they did, they ended up with this.

Nothing is overdone; even the horn jabs are subtle and meaningful. Everything that is included is there to make the song better. Was it their best ballad? I don’t think I can think of another that was this good.

8
Got to Get You Into My Life

Taking on a song from the greatest pop band ever is a risk. And, taking on a song from the greatest pop songwriting duo we have seen adds to that risk. It can work occasionally, or it can seriously backfire. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is a track from the Beatles album, Revolver.

It is an interesting choice, possibly influenced by the brass section on the original. It isn’t jazz, funk, or R&B, which is why I call it an interesting choice. A straight four pop song with some added brass is how The Beatles did it.

One thing you can’t accuse Earth Wind and Fire of is copying the original. This has a completely different feel, interesting harmonies, and rhythms. It isn’t the same song at all by the time they had finished with it.

A Reasonable Success

Released in 1978, it went to #9 in America but only made #33 in the UK. You probably wouldn’t have expected much more from a UK audience. A good effort that will please most Earth Wind and Fire fans. But, in my opinion, it is not as good as the original. That kept a simplicity and innocence about it. 

The song and accompanying brass sections didn’t need complexity or a complex arrangement. As a recording, it didn’t backfire, but The Beatles version wins, in my opinion.

9
Jupiter

10
Serpentine Fire

11
Fall in Love with Me

12
I’ll Write a Song for You

13
In the Stone

14
Let Me Talk

15
Love’s Holiday

16
Mighty Mighty

17
Open Our Eyes

18
Saturday Nite

19
Star

20
System of Survival

21
Thinking of You

22
Touch

23
You and I

24
That’s the Way of the World

25
Kalimba Story

26
Fantasy

Want More Awesome Songs?

We have you covered. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Chicago Songs of All Time, the Best Cheap Trick Songs of All Time, the Best Tina Turner Songs of All Time, the Best Donna Summer Songs of All Time, and the Best Funk Songs of All Time for more great song selections.

Best Earth Wind and Fire Songs of All Time – Conclusion

As I said at the outset, it is very difficult to put Earth, Wind, and Fire into any sort of genre. And, I am not sure it is necessary. They made their music and crossed over genre boundaries most of the time with ease.

They have their diehard fans, of course. But some think they sold out a little. A growing, very impressive jazz/funk, R&B band who suddenly went disco. Some objected to that and thought it unnecessary in the light of what they were capable of.

Like them or not… 

You cannot deny the musicianship involved. As I said, they evolved over the years through many manifestations. But, all the musicians and singers involved were of the highest quality. That is one reason, in the eyes of the public, that they maintained their status as one of the best jazz/funk, R&B bands we have ever seen.

Until next time, happy listening.

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