Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Earth, Wind & Fire - "Magnetic"
(Debuted November 12, 1983, Peaked #57, 8 Weeks on the Chart)
"Magnetic" is a largely forgotten tune in the vast repertoire of Earth, Wind & Fire songs. When released, the song wasn't on the charts long before it dropped off. The album that contained it, Electric Universe, was the band's first LP that failed to go gold or platinum since 1972 and led to a short hiatus for the band. Group leader Maurice White blames the album's failure on the fact that it had come out so soon after their previous LP Powerlight, but perhaps the band's "electronic period" was too different from what the hits from their 1970s halcyon days had sounded like.
While the band was known for their horn sections and forward-looking lyrics, the early 1980s marked a different musical vision for the group. They were increasingly relying on synthesizers and electronic effects, and by 1983 the horns were gone from their new records. This new sound -- "Electrofunk" -- mirrored the shift among post-disco funk groups, but it was so much different than what the group was putting out just a few years before. Maybe the hiatus (which lasted for four years) was needed to let the group get a long-deserved break.
The thing I remember most about "Magnetic" from 1983 was its video, which I watched on HBO's Video Jukebox program when I was in the sixth grade. I wondered at the time if the game shown was real. Now, I look at it and see that it seems to be inspired by both Rollerball and Blade Runner. For a group whose vision embraced a positive vibe, the action is definitely violent. In a way, it's interesting to see what once was considered "futuristic."