The Dutch progressive rock band Earth & Fire were formed in 1969 by the twin brothers Chris Koerts (guitars, synthesizers) and Gerard Koerts (keyboards). Fronted by female singer Jerney Kaagman, they became one of the most popular bands in The Netherlands during the seventies. The band produced many hits in the symphonic pop rock genre such as Seasons, Storm And Thunder, Memories and Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight. Yet their music never quite made it in Great Britain or in the US. Their biggest hit abroad was Weekend, a simple pop tune that became a number one hit in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. For people who enjoy progressive rock their early albums are very interesting mainly due to the intense use of the Mellotron. Albums like Earth & Fire (1970), Song Of The Marching Children (1971), Atlantis (1973) and To The World Of The Future (1975) got a CD-release later on. The first three albums have already been re-released by Esoteric Recordings a while ago. Those reissues contained several bonus tracks and sounded much better than the early CD-versions. However, until now my favourite E&F-album didn't get a proper reissue, but fortunately Esoteric recently released To The World Of The Future.
Compared to the three previous albums, To The World Of The Future differs in that way that the keyboards have been mixed in front of the other instruments. However, the Mellotron-sound is still present which provides for the connection with albums as Song Of The Marching Children and Atlantis. Due to the use of the electric piano the music regularly drifts in the direction of jazz-rock or fusion. These influences were mainly brought in by the new bass player Theo Hurts who had listened a lot to the music of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. A fine example can be heard on the instrumental piece The Last Seagull. The album also contained the usual Dutch hit singles like Only Time Will Tell and Love Of Life. However, some disco tendencies were also beginning to show which continued on their following releases. A good example is the hit single Love Of Life, yet this piece is worthwhile listening to because of the many progressive elements. The album also contained subjects that weren't welcomed by all their fans. The piece Voice From Yonder deals with a séance and even the 'voice from yonder' itself can be heard on this track. The title track is not only the longest track on To The World Of The Future, but also the most progressive one. It contains very strong electric guitar solos as well as many fine Mellotron-sounds.
As I already mentioned, the band also released two singles taken from this album. Of course, these singles contained B-sides, but those were not included on the album. The B-sides of these singles have been added to this new release as bonus tracks. Originally Tuffy The Cat was the B-side for Love Of Life. This instrumental track sounds like a slow version of the A-side. It also has some extra organ and slide guitar parts. Fun was coupled with Only Time Will Tell. It's a strong instrumental piece with fine guitar and Mellotron-parts. Also the jazz-rock influences are present on this track due to the use of an electric piano. Thanks For The Love was also released in 1975, but it wasn't derived from the original album. For the first time this single obviously shows disco influences initiated by the record company. They wanted more success since the latest single releases didn't sell that much as the previous ones. For the B-side they came up with Excerpts From 'To The World Of The Future'. I guess they wanted to show the people buying this single that the band was also capable of writing more serious music. It was a kind of advert for the listeners either, because you can hear somebody talking in Dutch promoting the album. In March 1976 they released the single What Difference Does It Make, another non-album track. It's again a serious attempt to hit the charts since disco ruled the music scene in those days. Acts as Boney M and Donna Summer were making big money, so I guess their record company wanted to earn some money too by forcing E&F to play such terrible music. In the end they succeeded because Weekend became a major success all over the world, but in a way it also destroyed the original music of E&F and it finally led to the band's breaking up.
Nowadays we still can enjoy the best musical efforts of this legendary Dutch band thanks to the fantastic remastered albums. If I may advise you; stop this CD after the ninth track otherwise disco rules once more!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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