I have read that Earth, Wind & Fire dominated the charts in the 70s and 80s. But, during that time, they scored only one #1 in America, and a #3 was the highest they reached in the UK. So, I wouldn’t say they dominated, but it can’t be disputed that they were very popular.
They made an impact because they were able to merge so many musical genres. And, they did it well. There were influences of R&B, Funk, Soul, Latin, Rock, and even a little Jazz.
The horns blaring away made it a big and powerful sound, but they could also be quieter and subtle if needed. So, let’s take a look at the Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire songs.
- Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire Songs.
- Want to Discover More Great Music that Grooves?
- Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire Songs – Final Thoughts
Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire Songs.
10 Got to Get You Into My Life
Let’s start with a little moan. I wish people who write articles on songs would get their facts straight. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is a Beatles song, of course. It was a track from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But it was not the first release of the song. It was first released on the album, Revolver a year before Sgt. Pepper’s.
Okay, moan over. Most singers or bands don’t make good covers of Beatles tracks. The Rolling Stones did a good version of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” but there aren’t many others.
The Earth, Wind, and Fire version of “Got To Get You Into My Life” is very good. They have stayed faithful to the original idea but added their style.
In 1978, it was released as a single but wasn’t particularly successful in the UK, reaching #33. It did better in America, peaking at #9. It was included on the album, The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire. The song had a great production courtesy of Maurice White.
9 That’s the Way of the World
This was the title track from their sixth album of the same name, released in 1975. They were already known to those that already appreciated their music. But this album took them to a much wider audience. The album reached #1 in America, and the single peaked at #12. As a result, it was one of the most successful Earth, Wing, and Fire songs.
It has very much a 70s sound, complete with a Fender Rhodes intro. The song has a laid-back feel that reminds you of what came to be known as Cool Jazz. Relaxed it may be, but plenty is going on, especially vocally.
8 Boogie Wonderland
Earth, Wind, and Fire were often mistaken for a Disco band. I suppose it was easy to make that assumption. At times, their music was not unlike what was being produced for the disco market. And, their style of dress at times didn’t help much.
But, the truth of it is that they thought disco music was too simplified for what they did. That is not them being boastful; it is a fact. Like them or otherwise, Earth, Wind, and Fire had some good musicians in their midst.
They found this song and thought they could do a good job of it despite its disco roots. “Boogie Wonderland” was released in 1979 as part of the album I Am. It was released as a single and reached #4 in the UK and #6 in America. It was a joint production with the vocal group Emotions.
7 After the Love Has Gone
This is another track taken from their hugely successful album, I Am. It has also been included in many “Best Of” compilations that were released. It’s an instantly recognizable Earth, Wind, and Fire song as soon as the vocals start. Plenty of piano at the beginning to get the song started, and then we break into that mid-tempo ballad style they excelled at.
The song was written by Jay Graydon, David Foster, and Bill Champlin and was the band’s second most successful single. It reached #4 in the UK and #2 in America. The album version of the song is nearly five minutes in length, but it is one of those songs you don’t get bored listening to.
6 Sunday Morning
This is a track from their sixteenth studio album, Millennium. It was released as a single in 1993. At this stage, however, their influence was beginning to wane internationally.
They still had their die-hard fans, of course, but this song only reached #34 on the main American chart and #26 in Holland. Furthermore, “Sunday Morning” would be their last song to reach the Top 100 in America.
Often Not Easy…
There is something that is often quite difficult for bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire to achieve. You can find yourself a winning sound and formula as they had. But then, you have to ensure that not every track sounds the same as the previous songs.
This song is a point in question. A familiar keyboard beginning, quite often the case with Earth, Wind, and Fire, but this time interspersed with some big brass sounds. It just adds that little bit of difference.
The harmonized vocals are also in abundance, but once again, they don’t remind you of anything in particular. The formula is safe, and Maurice White has ensured the song is produced with just enough variety. Not an easy thing to do.
5 Mighty Mighty
Moving away from their Soul/R&B standard sound, this one takes off a little bit. I can remember this song when it was released on the album, Open Our Eyes in 1974.
At the time, I was listening to a lot of stuff from the British Funk and R&B scene. Especially a band from Scotland, The Average White Band, who recorded songs like “The Jugglers.”
When I first heard “Mighty Mighty,” for a few brief moments, I thought it was The Average White Band. If you prefer the funkier side of Earth, Wind, and Fire, then this will be right up your street. In my view, it is one of the best Earth, Wind, and Fire songs they released. It has a James Brown feel to it and moves along with a great groove.
4 Shining Star
As most will know, “Shining Star” was Earth, Wind, and Fire’s most successful single that they released. This 1975 single reached #1 in America and was the only #1 they achieved. It was taken from their breakthrough album of the same year, That’s The Way Of The World.
That album, and “Shining Star” especially, helped to give the band international recognition and made them a household name. As with “Mighty Mighty,” this had a serious funk sound to it and, as with the other song, was how I liked to hear them. It is one of those songs that, as a musician, you try and work out what is making the song “tick.” Don’t bother trying, though; it’s just them and how they were.
The 1975 album That’s The Way Of The World was always going to be a hard act to follow. This was the follow-up album from 1976, called Spirit, from where “Getaway” was taken as a single.
The single reached #12 in America, and the album peaked at #2. Once again, some great funk rhythms, and from those rhythms came a good idea. Someone thought of putting the backing track as the B-side of the single.
In most cases, people might feel conned that there is no second song. In this case, however, the instrumental track is worth its inclusion as a B-side, showing off their hard funk musical style.
A track released in 1978 and one of my personal favorites from the album All N All. This was the second single taken from the album and had modest success reaching #32 on the American main chart. It was written as usual by Maurice White, along with Eddie Del Barrio and Verdine White.
Earth, Wind, and Fire do like their “alternate” intros, and this song has a good one. But then, it breaks into a nice rhythm and goes into a song that we are all familiar with. A classic Earth, Wind, and Fire song and easily one of the Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire songs.
And so, to the final entry and likely the most popular Earth, Wind, and Fire song. This is a song from Al McKay, Ailee Willis, and, of course, you know who, Maurice White.
The single was released in 1978, and you can find it on The Best of Earth Wind & Fire Vol. 1. The song had that dance feel about it, which helped to make it a success. It peaked high in the UK chart at #3 and reached #8 in America.
Commercially speaking, this was the song that came closest to being called a Pop song. But you would hardly call it that. However, it had a great hook which made it easy to sing along, which is something all Pop songs have. It also had some absolutely stunning brass work.
Want to Discover More Great Music that Grooves?
Well, then take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Funk Songs of All Time, the Best R&B Songs of All Time, the Best Songs by The Commodores, the Best Songs By Al Green, and the Best Donna Summer Songs of All Time for more awesome song selections.
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Top 10 Earth, Wind & Fire Songs – Final Thoughts
During their heyday, there was something unfortunate about Earth, Wind, and Fire. But I suppose it will depend on your viewpoint. I was working in Holland in the mid-70s when they came to Rotterdam. I asked a music friend if he’d like to go, and he answered, “I don’t like the circus.” He was referring to their stage clothing, and if I am honest, I could see his point.
These guys were excellent, serious musicians, but I can understand how some people might be put off visually. Perhaps it was a cultural thing, I don’t know, but I never understood it.
The Temptations were the same. The best of the best of Motown, in my view. Great to start with and got better with “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” But how could we take their serious message seriously when they were there in the pink suits and those awful dance moves?
I was an admirer of Earth, Wind, and Fire, but I had to get past the costumes first. I wonder how many people didn’t bother to try? How much bigger would they have been if people didn’t have that bridge to cross first? That is purely a personal opinion, of course, that I suppose many will not agree with.
But, it is the music that we should concentrate on. And, in that, we will all agree, they were superb. Whether you liked the groove they created or not, they were excellent in every way. The songs were very good, and their performances were excellent. And in Maurice White, they had someone who knew what he was doing.
They didn’t dominate as has been implied, but they did make a huge impact. Where would we have been without them? An exceptional band with one of the great back catalogs of music.
Until next time, happy listening.