Earth, Wind and Fire were household names by 1981 and when they released their eleventh album Raise! that year, their awaiting public was eager to enjoy their latest offering. Two songs on the album garnered significant attention—“Wanna Be With You,” which won a Grammy award in 1982 for Best R&B Song by Group or Duo, and the tune “Let’s Groove,” which peaked even higher on all of the music charts. While Raise! was released in 1981—technically thirty-one years ago, the single “Let’s Groove” wasn’t released until early 1982, which was also the year the accompanying video for the song was released. “Let’s Groove” has cinched such a nostalgic place in musical history that it is undeniably worthy of being honored as we celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the single release.
Let this groove, get you to move,
it’s alright, alright
let this groove, set in your shoes,
stand up, alright
Lyrically simple, “Let’s Groove” is instrumentally and vocally superior, as were most of the EWF songs that were primarily penned by band leader Maurice White. The deep bass and ever-present percussive thrust strongly mark this song, as does the contrast between White’s lead vocals and Phillip Bailey’s signature falsetto lending backing support. With an undeniable festive quality, the song was distinctly separate from the alternating conscious and romantic themes of the other songs on the album.
What some may not realize is that “Let’s Groove” was the first video to ever appear of BET’s first video program Video Soul, which was created when MTV refused to air videos by Black artists. “Let’s Groove”‘s popularity could be attributed to the fact that it was one of the first ever videos to air, displaying the eclectic music group in their full glory. Sporting shiny costumes—headbands and all—with choreographed dance moves, Earth, Wind & Fire jammed hard in their first video. In the video, while White directs his gaze and ardor on the video’s dancing female lead, Bailey et al carry the energy of the song in celebratory style. The vintage animation created a psychedelic effect that was most appropriate for the band’s futuristic image grounded in Egyptian symbology and fusion sounds.
While Earth, Wind and Fire continue to enjoy a healthy music career in the public’s eye, with over 40 years in the business, “Let’s Groove” is one song in their music catalogue that lives up to its title again and again. Thirty years later, it still has us groovin’.
-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman can be found on http://www.KhadijahOnline.com.