Illumination

Studio Album by released in 2005
Illumination's tracklist:
Lovely People (feat. Will. I. Am)
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Pure Gold
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A Talking Voice (interlude)
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Love's Dance
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Show Me the Way (feat. Raphael Saadiq)
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This Is How I Feel (feat. Big Boi, Kelly Rowland & Sleepy Brown)
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Work It Out
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Pass You By
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The One
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Elevated (feat. Floetry)
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Liberation
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To You (feat. Brian McKnight)
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The Way You Move (feat. Kenny G)
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Illumination review

The Rolling Stones aren't the only Rock & Roll Hall of Famers to score an incredible new disc in 2005. Following 2003's The Promise, Earth, Wind & Fire went back to the studio and refined and updated their approach to music with a more contemporary neo-soul sound with Illumination, and the gamble paid off plentiful, as it's one of the group's freshest and most fully realized album since the glory years of the seventies, when the group was releasing one timeless single after another. Few classic R&B groups have been as influential on contemporary R&B as Earth, Wind & Fire. With a resume including such incredible classics as Shining Star, September, That's the Way Of the World, and Singasong, Maurice White's conglomeration of musicians has entertained and uplifted audiences for 35 years. Their latest album Illumination proves they intend to inspire audiences for years to come.

Illumination showcases what we all have become familiar with when listening to an Earth, Wind & Fire record: the positive lyrics of strength and love and cushioned between the worldly mix of African and Latin music which is the cornerstone of their existence. The presence of guest artists on Illumination adds an air of reverence for Earth, Wind & Fire from the current generation of musicians. The Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am helps kick the collection off with celebratory soul on Lovely People, and midway through Pure Gold, the second track, the listener realizes once again what a gorgeous instrument Philip Bailey's voice is. The Atlanta-based Organized Noize crew, complete with Sleepy Brown and Outkast's Big Boi enlivens the classic Earth, Wind & Fire vibe of This Is How I Feel with a rap, vocals and an additional guest star in Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland. Organized Noize also produced The One, the showcase for Earth, Wind & Fire's founder and spiritual guiding light Maurice White. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis also pitch in their trademark soulful sheen while maintaining the horns and funky rhythms of classic Earth, Wind & Fire. But the crown jewel of the album is unquestionably the eight-minute jam Show Me The Way with Raphael Saadiq handling lead vocals.

Unlike so many collaborative efforts these days, Illumination it is not the old-timers trying to cash in one last time by strapping themselves to the current craze. This album is the old-timers taking the kids to school. This may be Earth, Wind & Fire's 23rd album release but the fantastic foursome show no signs of creative struggle, working strain or musical aging. Instead they continue to inspire the masses with their instrumental masterpieces. Illumination effortlessly straddles the divide between classic and contemporary R&B. This album is no nostalgic trip down memory lane. It's an exploration of what made Earth, Wind & Fire great and the trends of today. That exploration results in the discovery that the basics matter. No amount of marketing, imaging, or other industry concerns can make great music. Only great musicians can do that, and Earth, Wind & Fire are GREAT musicians. If you like jazz, if you like soul, if you like funk, if you just like music, Illumination by Earth, Wind & Fire is the album for you.