Legends Earth, Wind & Fire are back with their first album in eight years. Harry Guerin finds himself in Boogie Wonderland.

It's easy to imagine Earth, Wind & Fire singer Philip Bailey, Robert Bell of Kool and the Gang and KC of you-know-who sitting around their houses during the summer, wondering why Daft Punk called Nile Rodgers and not them.

Going by the songs on Now, Then & Forever, the Frenchmen would be fools not to reach out for a team-up at some point.

While 71-year-old EWF visionary Maurice White doesn't appear on the record, it has his blessing, his musical DNA is all over it and the future of his trailblazers is in safe hands.

It's now nearly 30 years (yikes) since Bailey's voice went higher than the helicopter in the video for Easy Lover with Phil Collins, but the man sounds as fresh and smooth as back in the day, dishing out the funk, soul and R&B mixed grill on songs like Sign On and The Promise to glorious effect.

Bailey is joined for this "return to the signature Earth, Wind & Fire sound" by two other EWF stalwarts, bassist Verdine White and vocalist-percussionist Ralph Johnson, and a blast from the past, keyboard genius Larry 'Muggs' Dunn. Together they've come up with a collection of supercharged and slow set floor fillers that will put a smile on your face. They even throw in a soundtrack for next year's World Cup, Belo Horizonte, for good measure.

Unlike so many of their peers, EWF haven't become an out-and-out nostalgia act, but instead are using past glories to create current ones. Had people half their age released this you'd be hearing a lot more about it. One of the surprises of the year.


Earth, Wind & Fire