Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Songs of The Day

Zanzibar:  Only one today, and there's not too much to say about it extensively.  It's 13 minutes long, so you can see how it would be difficult to depict every change that occurs.  It's essentially a very long, funky jam with a solid latin feel.  I dig it.  It's just very long.  If you have the time, you should listen to it.

1 comment:

  1. It is one of my favorite songs from an Earth, Wind & Fire album I grew up with (it was always at my auntie's apartment), but one that generally gets pushed to the side by all but the diehards. "Zanzibar" was one of the last moments of adventure from the group's pre-Columbia period, when they were Chicago expatriates heading to the promised land of California. In fact, listen to this and you'll definitely hear hints of the Rotary Connection vibe, which would make sense since that group were Charles Stepney's baby and Maurice White played drums on a few of their tracks.

    I am a longtime fan of "the long song", this is one that was probably played on daring radio stations as the DJ took a smoke break (or who knows what else). For fans who only know of the group through their radio hits, this might seem bizarre. No verses or choruses, just musicianship and jamming. There's so much to focus on too, from the layers of the percussion, to Larry Dunn playing on a wide range of keyboards and organs.

    I don't play this song all the time, as the HEAD TO THE SKY has a number of shorter gems (i.e. "Evil", "Keep Your Head To The Sky"... well, all of the songs except this one) but anyone who has ever admired Earth, Wind & Fire's jazzy roots will love this song. Philip Bailey and Jessica Cleaves' vocals were great here, and sadly Cleaves would no longer be with the band after this album, imagine what her presence may have been like on the band's more successful songs and albums.

    The whole song is incredible, but I love the second half when Al McKay gets into his guitar solo, and Dunn plays a repetitive organ melody at the 10:15 mark that fits, as if it's suggesting a "coming home" feel. Earth, Wind & Fire never shied away from their Afrocentricity, but hearing this part shows a mixture of the "old ways" and moving into the optimism, confusion, and stress of the modern world, almost saying that no matter where you are, you make the best at what you have. Earth, Wind & Fire did it with groove, melody, and love. I also love how Andrew Woolfolk's soprano sax and Verdine White's bass lowers the tempo a bit and things get even more chill, as in "yeah, we're home but we're not going to stop. Let's continue this." You don't want it to end, but it slowly fades. Beautiful, and the album is over.

    For those who are listening to this song for the first time, the vocal reprise at the end of this song also appears at the end of the proper "Keep Your Head To The Sky" song, and it appears here almost as a coda, or a "moral of the story", one final goodbye. It has nothing to do with "Zanzibar" as a song.