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Various - Interpretations: Celebrating the Music Of Earth Wind and Fire 
Earth Wind and Fire are widely considered the greatest soul band of all time, with dozens of hits and legendary performances attesting to their popularity and impact on the music industry. Interpretations is a loving tribute to the group, bringing together ten of soul's most talented artists to put their spin on EWF's classic catalog.  This release also marks the rebirth of the Stax label.

Executive produced by group leader Maurice White, Interpretations is the rare tribute disc that stands on its own merits.  Artists ranging from the legendary (Chaka Khan on "Shining Star," Mint Condition's straighforward take on "After The Love Has Gone") to the upstart (Ledisi with "Devotion", Dwele's unique phrasing of "That's The Way Of The World") all bring their best to the table, giving these soul standards new life thanks to their personal investment in the material.  

All of the performances are strong, but several deserve special mention.  First is the outstanding "Can't Hide Love" by The Randy Watson Experience (James Poyser and Roots drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson).  Mercurial talent Bilal handles the lead, but the change to a brazilian groove that happens halfway through takes the song to a new, joyous level.  Meshell Ndegocello similiarly provides a radical rewrite on "Fantasy."  The venerable mellow soul groove is transformed into a hard edged statement of personal strength, complete with an opening shout out to soldiers stationed in Iraq. Finally, Lalah Hathaway's version of "Love's Holiday" is so atmospheric that it seems to float away from your speakers.

These songs alone, not to mention Musiq Soulchild ending any doubts as to his vocal talent by completely owning "Reasons," make Interpretations an essential document of contemporary soul and much more than your standard tribute album.     
 

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