Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at Paste.com, from Louis Armstrong to The Who to U2 to Wilco. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive to find the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Search and enjoy!
Today in the Paste Vault, we’re traveling back to Aug. 10, 1974, to an early performance by funk and soul legends Earth, Wind & Fire, recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour at the St. Louis Arena. Before their most renowned disco anthems like “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” had even been conceived, Earth, Wind & Fire were already promoting their fifth studio album, Open Our Eyes, released earlier that year.
Earth, Wind & Fire was formed in Chicago in 1969 by drummer Maurice White, but it wasn’t until 1973 that the group began to find commercial success. This was when White altered the EWF lineup, adding his brothers, bassist Verdine and second drummer Fred, as well as Phillip Bailey, who provided the signature soulful vocals and tremendous energy on the group’s tracks.
Open Our Eyes, which later went platinum, showed that Earth, Wind & Fire had finally found their niche, after moving from Warner Brothers to Columbia Records. Their rousing King Biscuit Flower Hour performance proved this, as the group performed instrumental introductory track “Drum Song,” a track from 1973’s Head to the Sky, “Evil,” and two popular Open Your Eyes tracks, “Devotion” and “Mighty Mighty.”
Although Earth, Wind & Fire would see their greatest commercial success within the next few years, this nearly 10-minute, smooth and sensual rendition of “Devotion” gets to the very core of their sound.