Sunday, February 14, 2016

Track of the Week: Earth, Wind and Fire "Got To Get You Into My Life"

Death struck the music world again this month with the passing of Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire.  He pioneered a truly unique sound, one borrowing from jazz, soul, funk, and Latin music while not sounding derivative of any of those genres.  There's a lot of songs to choose from, but I'm picking "Got To Get You Into My Life," since this cover of an already great Beatles tune showcases Earth, Wind, and Fire's pure musical brilliance.

The original had a bold horns part, making it pretty ideal as an Earth, Wind, and Fire cover, but the similarities end there.  The beat and the arrangement are totally different, even if the tempo is still the same.  It's funky, complex, and intricate in ways that the original, which was more of a hard-driving rock song, wasn't.  Many have attempted to cover the Beatles, and this is one of the rare cases where the cover matches or improves on the original.

The context for this cover is also interesting.  It was included in the soundtrack to the wretched Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film, a late '70s pastiche of disco-era awfulness.  Several contemporary artists, especially the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, who starred in the film, covered classic Beatles tracks on the soundtrack.  The vast majority of these covers are really shite.  When Earth, Wind, and Fire come on near the end, it is an invigorating shot of energy that makes the crap surrounding it look even worse by comparison. Maurice White's vision was so unique that no one else really repeated it, not the same way as say, David Bowie.  It would be a shame if that keeps a brilliant artist from getting his due.

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