Earth, Wind & Fire
were nothing if not ambitious, and by the time of their third album they had forged an individual sound by absorbing nearly everything that had gone before them in the previous ten years. It was as if they were trying to encapsulate every eclectic foray pursued by Motown, from catchy, rhythmic pop to churning funk, and even from Stevie Wonder
singing borrowed folk songs like "Blowin' in the Wind" (here, Philip Bailey
did "Where Have All the Flowers Gone") to the schmaltzy, string-filled pop that spelled legitimacy to Motown. Not only that, they wanted to incorporate Sly & the Family Stone
's horn-filled, gutbucket R&B and some of the fusion style of Weather Report
. On Last Days and Time
, they succeeded in pulling all that into their orbit, but they hadn't yet managed one crucial thing: they hadn't learned to write hits. That would come next.