Every now and then, I find an absolute gem, a song or album I really had never heard before, that just blows my mind. Today is one of those days. The album is “That’s the Way of the World”, by soul/funk/R&B legends Earth, Wind, & Fire. This album is #490 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. While I enjoy most of the album, there is one song that is on a different level.
Track #3 is “Happy Feelin’”, and the bass on this song, by Verdine White is literally out of control. This is one of the absolute best and funkiest bass lines I have ever heard. It has a nice island dance feel with congas, xylophones, horns, and the smooth vocals of Philip Bailey, pride of Denver East High School and the University of Colorado. If I could add this song to my playlist more than once, I would do it.
The opening song is their biggest single from the album, “Shining Star”. You probably already know this song, but if you are a Seinfeld fan, you will instantly recognize this song as the number Elaine Benes tried and failed with her horrific dance moves. It’s a happy and poppy song, and a good listen as well.
The second song is interesting as well. If you ever wonder where Lenny Kravitz got the inspiration (and chord progression) for “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”, he clearly borrowed from the title track, “That’s the Way of the World”. It is no accident that I love the smooth feel of both songs, and again, Philip Bailey is just amazing on this song. With leader Maurice White, this band has a great feel, and the entire album flows easily. Some of the slower ballads aren’t quite as interesting to me, but they keep bringing it back to up-tempo, especially on another great evolving song, “Africano”.
This album was a soundtrack to a movie of the same name, starring the band as a fictional representation of themselves, and also starred Harvey Keitel. To clarify, Harvey was NOT in the band. The movie didn’t do much, but the album was a big hit, and thankfully, I was able to encounter the Verdine White bass insanity that will be a permanent add to my heavy rotation.