Size: 135 MB
Ripped By: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster
Here in America, Earth & Fire is completely unknown, and if you ask most Americans, they'll either give you a blank stare or say something like "You don't mean Earth, Wind & Fire?" (which is obviously a completely different group, an American R&B/soul/funk band). In Holland, they were able to rack up a bunch of hit singles (many of them not available on any non-compilation albums) and release great prog rock albums in the process. I first got exposed to Earth & Fire as a kid when my dad bought the LP of To the World of the Future (1975), since none of my family ever been to Holland, my dad bought that album either mistaking them for Earth, Wind & Fire, or simply liked the futuristic '70s artwork (he wasn't exactly the most musically informed person out there). Of course by that point, the band was starting to explore disco, but still hadn't quite abandoned prog.
In 1970, the band released their self-entitled debut. And just to let everyone know, the one with the Roger Dean cover is not the original pressing, that was a 1971 UK pressing on the Nepentha label, and of course that's the cover used for the German Repertoire label CD reissue, as well as the newer Japanese reissue. The original Dutch LP was released on Polydor/Medium (has the same familiar red Polydor label, with the "Medium" logo under the "Polydor" logo) and featured a gimmick matchbox cover, which shows a picture of the band, and when you fold open the cover, you see matches, and a list of the songs. This album is less polished than their following (ie. Song of the Marching Children, Atlantis) and there's plenty of that late '60s psych elements still left. The band consisted of female vocalist Jerney Kaagman, with twin brothers Chris Koerts on guitar and Gerard Koerts on organ and flute, with drummer Ton van der Kleij and bassist Hans Ziech. This album managed three hits, "Seasons", "Ruby is the One", and "Wild and Exciting".
"Seasons" and "Ruby is the One" featured original drummer Cees Kalis (Ton v.d. Kleij hopped on board once they started recording their debut LP), since both of those were released as a single prior to the album's release, "Seasons" being their first ever release, released at the end of 1969 ("Hazy Paradise" was the B-side, and "Mechanical Lover" was the flip side of "Ruby is the One"). "Love Quiver" is the one cut that bears a striking resemblance to Jefferson Airplane, but unlike the Airplane, you get treated with a great organ solo. "What's Your Name" is a laid-back acoustic piece with flute. And there's lots of times that "21st Century Show" is called "21st Century Land", because of the previous cut entitled "Vivid Shady Land", but it's actually entitled "21st Century Show". "Seasons", as mentioned, dates from 1969, and wasn't written by either of the Koerts brothers or E&F members, but George Kooysman of Golden Earring (who supported E&F, and helped them get a deal with Polydor, in which Golden Earring recorded for). "Twilight Dreamer" sounds like a precursor to "Carnival of the Animals" (from Song of the Marching Children) and near the end what sounds like the band's first ever use of a synthesizer (sounds like a Moog). "Vivid Shady Land" is a perfect example of the band still sticking to that late '60s psychedelic sound.
On the Repertoire CD reissue, you have the complete album, which ends with "What's Your Name" (track 9), and then you have a whole bunch of bonus cuts, all non-album singles, all the way up to 1976, where the band decided to go disco. You get "Hazy Paradise", "Mechanical Lover", the ever wonderful "Invitation" (one of my favorite non-album singles the band released) and the equally wonderful Mellotron-oriented "Memories". You also get the original single version of "Song of the Marching Children", which was released several months before the album's release, and what separates this version from the album version is Jerney Kaagman's singing sounds different. "Lost Forever" (flip side of "Storm and Thunder") and "From the End 'till the Beginning" (flip side of "Memories") are also featured. Missing here is "Tuffy the Cat" (flip side of "Love of Life"), but I guess they couldn't include that because of lack of space, thanks to all the other bonus cuts. Then they included two songs from where the band went disco, "Thanks For the Love" (1975) and "What Difference Does it Make" (1976), complete with strings, horns and hi-hats. Unfortunately Earth & Fire fell victim in the late '70s by recording increasingly commercial material, and you know it's time to run when comparisons to ABBA start surfacing (but it didn't hurt the band in terms of success, although it's understood that most prog rock fans don't usually bother with much anything they released after 1975). Regardless, this CD is a wonderful historical document, not just for the debut, a great album that shows even better things to come, but you get lots of non-album singles as well.
Reviewer: BENJAMIN MILER (Lakeview, OR United States)
01. Wild and Exciting
02. Twilight Dreamer
03. Ruby Is the One
04. You Know the Way
05. Vivid Shady Land
06. 21th Century Land
08. Love Quiver
09. What's Your Name
10. Mechanical Lover
11. Hazy Paradise
14. From the End Till the Beginning
15. Lost Forever
16. Song of the Marching Children
17. Thanks for the Love
18. What Difference Does It Make