Maybe the Greatest Funk Band Ever

The first song I ever heard from Earth Wind and Fire was ‘Fantasy’ – I was 16 at the time. It was on the playlist it at our local Sacred Heart disco playlist in the Melbourne suburb of Kew (where we saw AC/DC play live at the local church hall) . I thought to myself that sounds like some big band – WOW! A few months later I bought their greatest hits album and it featured the song ‘That’s the Way of the World’, composed by band members Maurice White, Verdine White and Charles Stepney. I loved the combination of smooth sparse keys, really gorgeous harmonic horns, warm string arrangement underneath these amazing vocal harmonies and smooth drums. What a song and I played it over and over again. It had this really spiritual thing going on and I wondered if it had specifically gospel origins. But actually no; instead it was written for a failed film soundtrack ‘That’s the Way of the World’ in which Earth Wind and Fire, themselves, starred as an up and coming band under the wings of some crazy record producer. The film was a flop but not the 1975 album (although I wasn’t to hear it until a few years later). Their melodies have always stood firm in my mind and influenced my own songwriting 🎶. You can hear this song and other really smooth retro tracks on my Spotify playlist RETRO SMOOTH available via the linktree on my Instagram bio @thestevebellprojects OR this Spotify link:

Published by thestevebellprojects

‘My thrill is to take relatively unknown, very unique and talented singers and compose and arrange retro songs that they record.’ Born in Melbourne, Australia, Steve Bell was brought up on seventies and eighties pop, soul and funk. He was obsessed with Earth Wind and Fire, Bee Gees, Al Jarreau, Gino Vannelli, TOTO, George Benson and, the great, David Foster. He liked class music with rich melodies - a big feature of his own writing today. While at college he played drums in numerous bands, but in his own words ‘wasn’t much chop at that’. But he did have a knack for playing piano by ear and writing ‘kind of cool’ ballads and soul songs. In his twenties he had a part-time role (on top of his day job) as a pop music critic for a local arts magazine, where he interviewed acclaimed artists from across the world. His interviews were always deep and focused on learning more and more about great songwriting and performing. Then he took a break - for over 25 years, running his company and being a family ‘guy’. However, he yearned for creative endeavours and once locked down during the COVID crisis, he started writing songs again. His first song ‘Lonely View’ was written looking out across the local bay from his composing studio and recorded using the amazing vocals of Jennifer Davids. Thus he started the journey of identifying a talented singer every few months and penning them a song with rich 70s and 80s melodies and jazz pop inspired chord structures.

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