Live archive release from the American R&B/Soul/Funk outfit. On the occasion of their 40th anniversary, Kool & The Gang gave a concert in Denver, Colorado in the summer of 2005 to celebrate four decades of success all over the world…
This collection finds the fascinating video for "Cherish," both a romantic and philosophical song suggestively set in a Utopian afterlife on a beach. "Joanna," possibly the sweetest music video ever, finds the group gracefully serenading a middle-aged waitress as she recalls tender years of being wooed in the 1950s…
By the time 1983's In the Heart hit the streets, Kool & the Gang had left the fast lanes of funk for the smoother ride of the adult-oriented R&B expressway. Nevertheless, their grasp of 1980s soul sonics ensured that the band continued to top the charts with a verve and style that left their early influences firmly behind. With Ronald Bell temporarily stepping off the stage to shoulder the production, the band entered yet another fruitful era. With the monster hit "Joanna" setting the pace, Kool & the Gang powered their way through a set that seemed light to some, but still had enough force to push In the Heart into gold disc territory.
Featuring "Summer Madness" long live version
Following on the heels of their 1975 smash Spirit of the Boogie, Kool & the Gang hit the road to tour the album and record new material. One tumultuous show, at London's Rainbow Theatre, became the core of Love & Understanding.
Featuring "Summer Madness"
Lest anyone is expecting extravaganzas like "Celebration" or other crossover hits from the early '80s, Kool & the Gang's Spin Their Top Hits strictly covers the band's funk-filled '70s chart successes. Although singer James "J.T." Taylor's cool-breeze approach may have given the band their biggest chart toppers, Kool & the Gang's longevity rests with the jazz-informed grooves heard here. Coming off as part early Earth, Wind & Fire and a prelude to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," "Open Sesame" starts things off with some fantasy funk for the dancefloor, sounding every bit the high-end disco showstopper that made it a highlight of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Formed as a jazz ensemble in the mid-'60s, Kool & the Gang became one of the most inspired and influential funk units during the '70s, and one of the most popular R&B groups of the '80s after their breakout hit "Celebration" in 1979. Just as funky as James Brown or Parliament (and sampled almost as frequently), Kool & the Gang relied on their jazz backgrounds and long friendship to form a tightly knit group with the interplay and improvisation of a jazz outfit, plus the energy and spark of a band with equal ties to soul, R&B, and funk.
Ladies' Night was the album where Kool & the Gang perfected their funky style and made it more mainstream by incorporating some pop and light R&B into the sound. The result was that this album was not only popular during the 1970s black-oriented funk era where the band started, but also during the more popular and diverse disco era. Ladies' Night became their first Platinum album.
EMERGENCY continues the trend begun on 1979's LADIES NIGHT and continued on albums like CELEBRATE! and IN THE HEART of pushing Kool & the Gang's sound deeper into the smooth grooves of Adult Contemporary R&B. Though the band had long since relinquished the hardcore funk on which it honed its chops, EMERGENCY proves Kool & the Gang still capable of moving bodies on the dance floor, as the thumping "Misled," the album's lead-off single, attests. The hard-driving vibe of the title track, and the almost Prince-like "Surrender," should be enough to assure old-school Gang fans that they've still got the funk.