Earth, Wind & Fire Plots Retail Exclusive

Earth, Wind & Fire appears likely to follow the Eagles and Journey in making its next album exclusively for a major retailer.

Earth, Wind & Fire appears likely to follow the Eagles and Journey in making its next album exclusively for a major retailer.

Frontman Philip Bailey tells Billboard.com that the group, which like those two bands is handled by Azoff Music Management, is planning a three-disc package like Journey's recent "Revelation."

The set, which EWF hopes to release in mid-2009, is expected to include a CD of original material -- its first since "Illumination" in 2004 -- a live CD and a concert DVD.

"(Management) has done this twice with (the Eagles and Journey, both via Wal-Mart) and they've expressed interest in doing this with Earth, Wind & Fire," Bailey says. "That's the new thing today, so we're taking a template out of that whole thing. We have a history and a catalog and everything, so you don't have to 'break' us. We're still viable. Now, they're able to make really good deals and make more money for (the acts), so it's a pretty good day for us old guys."

Bailey says EWF plans to start working on the new album after it comes off the road in October. "We're writing," he notes, "and we're gonna write with some of these writer-producer guys, and then make it happen."

Bailey and fellow EWF principals Maurice and Verdine White and Ralph Johnson received honorary doctorates in May from Columbia College's Arts and Media College in Chicago, which included a performance by the four musicians. Maurice White also produced R&B singer Brian Culbertson's new album, "Bringing Back the Funk."