Album #24: “The Best of Earth Wind & Fire Vol. 1” — Earth Wind & Fire (1978)
Best Of albums are usually, at best, a sign a band is done — little more than a ploy to squeeze more money out of old songs. (Even my favorite band of all, The Cars, is guilty of this; they put out five “greatest hits” records, yet only have seven albums of original material.) At worst, it is an excuse to trick listeners into buying crap that didn’t sell the first time by repackaging it with a few bone fide winners (I’m looking at you, Heart). For the casual consumer, however, the appeal is obvious: they only want the top 40 hits they heard on the radio, and this is the fastest, easiest way to get them.
Every rule has its exception, and in this case the exception is Earth Wind & Fire’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1. It really is all that and a bag of chips, yes indeed. It was one of Lisa D’s favorite albums, and was in constant rotation the year we lived on Esch 1. (“Reasons” also ranked high on friend Darrell Smith’s list of favorites, and got a lot of play in high school.) Beyond any personal sentimentality I might have, “The Best of EWF, Vol. 1” is a perfect encapsulation of a band at the height of its powers, and a nearly flawless jem that has only become more polished over time.