Maurice White

Maurice White

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It must be disappointing to create an album like this, and have it fall on deaf ears. Earth, Wind & Fire's mentor, Maurice White, gives an excellent account on this solo debut. His vocal ability, overshadowed by Philip Bailey in EWF, is out front here with a potpourri of songs that showcases his versatility. "Switch on Your Radio" has a happy Caribbean feel, similar to an EWF recording, but somehow different. The infectious "Jamboree" is not country but another hand-clapping, good times tune that toddlers try to sing. White's rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" has a herky, jerky beat; the backing vocals fill in spaces like horns. It charted but not very high, and gave people the wrong impression of this album; it's the only remake, and Maurice's sole attempt at nostalgia. Everything else is fresh as a morning shower, like "I Need You," a classy ballad tenderized by White's crafty read. Side two opens with "Believe in Magic," an upbeat, banging jam that has EWF stamped on it. The only thing missing is Philip Bailey's sweet falsetto, but even without Bailey it sounds like a hit, yet it didn't bust a grape. You get the feeling White tried to duplicate Lionel Richie's success, especially on "The Lady Is Love," a lilting mid-tempo love declaration. The robotic "Invitation" reminds you of Midnight Star and similar strobe-light bands. White locks the vocal down so tight, you'd think he performed songs like this all the time. His kalimba playing accents "Children of Afrika," a joyous tribute with an assembly of backing vocalists, including the Neighborhood Choir. White's limited range holds up well over the course of this album, and the razor-sharp productions never become boring. The 2001 CD reissue on Columbia/Legacy adds four bonus tracks, including "Life," a one-minute previously unreleased "freedom mix" of "Life," the previously unissued 20-second "Sam the Jam," and the previously unavailable demo "Adventures of the Heart."

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