Earth and Fire - To the World of the Future. 1975 Netherlands

Earth and Fire - To the World of the Future. 1975 Polydor

CD reissues: 1991 Polydor (Japan); 2011 Esoteric (UK)

Packaging details: Well, as you can see, the number of reissues drops off dramatically here at Earth and Fire's 4th offering. We'll cover on why that may be in the below discussion. Ironically, because of this slight, the original Japanese CD became quite collectable. I didn't know much about this album in 1991, so I never picked it up. By the time I did hear it, the CD was long OOP and expensive. Esoteric finally put the issue to bed with a high quality reissue, with great liner notes and copious bonus tracks (which are critical to appreciating the album). Original LPs, like all of Earth and Fire's albums, are readily available on the cheap. So once again there seems to be no need for an LP reissue.

Notes: So here's the impetus for my sudden interest in all things Earth and Fire. I had been lead to believe back in my original collecting days, that this one wasn't worth bothering with. Not only is that nonsense, but I'm close to claiming this to be the best Earth and Fire! At least a close second to "Song of the Marching Children". Discogs.com, for their part, label the album "Electro, Experimental, Disco". That's ridiculous. On to the review...

Having found Top 40 success with 'Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight', it would seem Earth & Fire would continue down that path, perhaps full bore. "To the World of the Future" offers up a stay of execution. In some ways, this is their most ambitious album - both from a progressive standpoint, and a commercial one. On the pop side, the most overt pop track is 'Love of Life', which was not surprisingly their first choice for a single. Personally I think this is a great example of the pre-disco era - superb wah-wah rhythm guitar, charming female vocals, synthesizers galore. The other single from this album is 'Only Time Will Tell', which is a less obvious choice, and actually harkens back to their "Atlantis" days with organ, psych guitar, mellotron and powerful vocals from Jerney. On the other side of this coin is the 3 highly ambitious progressive meets fusion tracks: 'The Last Seagull', 'Voice from Yonder' and 'Circus', which are unlike anything the band did before or after (though I suppose 'Circus' could have fit comfortably on "Song of the Marching Children"). This gets us to the title track which is the perfect blend of everything the band is trying to do here. On the one hand there's the funky pop bits, with a chorus that I swear - I mean really swear - sounds like "ahhhhhhh FREAK OUT!" from, yes, that famed New York City disco band Chic ('Le Freak'). One had to think they may have run into this Earth & Fire album prior. Meanwhile, just when you think it's time to bust a move, out come the mellotrons, psychedelic guitar, symphonic dynamics, and complex meters to remind everyone that Earth & Fire are first and foremost still a progressive rock band.

Be sure to get a CD reissue with some of the singles from this era. Most enlightening are the B-Sides to 'Love of Life' and 'Only Time Will Tell' - respectively 'Tuffy the Cat' and 'Fun'. Both tracks are progressively oriented instrumental funk tracks (with loads of mellotron, organ and Fender Rhodes), and are entirely unique for Earth & Fire - and just about anyone really. The 1975 and 1976 singles 'Thanks For the Love' and 'What Difference Does it Make' demonstrate that Earth & Fire no longer hold progressive rock intentions - and have completely sold out to the Euro disco machine. I actually think they're quite good at the style, and I'm sure gave groups like ABBA good competition - but in the end, that's not what Earth & Fire were about, and having lost their way - they ultimately collapsed under their own weight by the early 80s. A tragic, but all too typical tale.

And this is where the UMR stops their Earth and Fire pursuit. :-)

2 comments:

  1. Glad to see there's someone else who likes this album :-) Most people seem to think this is where Earth & Fire went downhill.
    I've got this one as a 3 on 2 with Atlantis and Gate to Infinity. It actually adds 9 bonus tracks, including the singles you mention. No liner notes, though, so I may decide to pick up the Esoterics at some point.
    I have to say, I find the "voice from yonder", supposedly from a dead man during a seance, very weird.

    As this is your final E&F entry, I'll throw in a final bit of Jerney trivia: she appeared in a state of undress in the first Dutch edition of Playboy magazine in the 80s. A sure sign that her singing career was in decline, I think :-)

    Cheers, Bas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha - great notes Bas. Yes, the Playboy shoot is the final salvo! I didn't realize there was a 3 on 2. I should have checked that. Oh well, let's see if anyone checks the comments! :-)

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