On the 45th Anniversary of All ’N All, here’s the music video for the single “Serpentine Fire.”
Written by Maurice, Verdine White, Sonny Burke
Album produced by Maurice for Kalimba Productions
Our music was eclectic, not the boring, sterile, unimaginative monotone of disco. We had the best rhythm section in the world. The tracks minus their vocals or horns are intricate unto themselves.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that “Serpentine Fire” and “Fantasy” got radio airplay at all at a time where songs like “YMCA” by the Village People, “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA dominated the airwaves. “Serpentine Fire” in particular is profoundly odd, an idiosyncratic mixture of African music, tango, and gospel blues with an abstract lyric about kundalini energy. Its gospel calls of “Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” kinda make me feel southern and churchy. The underlying tone of the lyric comes off as a war of the flesh. It is our most ambitious single, because it is so musically abstract – the complete opposite of the disco that dominated the radio in 1977. It was almost as if, in our success, we were getting away with something. Our melodic blend of jazz, world, R&B, pop, and adult contemporary was leading a new sound. Some would later call the sound West Coast album-oriented rock, or modern soul.
The All ’N All album and tour was a milestone, the bestselling R&B album of 1978. It was a great musical record, and the beginning of another phase for us.
– Maurice White. My Life With Earth, Wind & Fire, by Maurice White with Herb Powell, 2016.
In 1979, All ’N All won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus.