Today's artists are .an American jazz, R&B, soul, funk and disco group, originally formed in 1964 as the Jazziacs based in Jersey City, New Jersey. They went through several musical phases during their recording career, starting out with a purist jazz sound, then funk and R&B, progressing to a smooth pop-funk ensemble, and in the post-millennium creating music with a modern, electro-pop sound. They have sold over 70 million albums worldwide ... N'joy
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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.
Robert "Kool" Bell and his brother Ronald (or Khalis Bayyan) grew up in Jersey City, NJ, and picked up the music bug from their father. A professional boxer, he was also a serious jazz lover and a close friend of Thelonious Monk. With Robert on bass and Ronald picking up an array of horns, the duo formed the Jazziacs in 1964 with several neighborhood friends: trombone player Clifford Adams, guitarists Charles Smith and Woody Sparrow, trumpeter Robert "Spike" Michens, alto saxophonist Dennis Thomas, keyboard player Ricky West, and drummer Funky George Brown (all of whom, except Michens and West, still remained in the group more than 30 years later).
The Bell brothers' father Bobby and uncle Tommy were boxers. They moved to New York to train and lived in the same apartment building as Thelonious Monk who became Robert's godfather when he was born. Miles Davis would drop by because he wanted to be a boxer. They played occasionally with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas.
The growing earthiness of soul inspired the Jazziacs to temper their jazz sensibilities with rhythms more akin to R&B, and the newly renamed Soul Town Band began playing clubs in Greenwich Village. After a mix-up with a club owner resulted in the group being billed Kool & the Flames, they moderated the title to Kool & the Gang and found a leg up with the tiny De-Lite Records. Three singles from their self-titled debut album hit the pop charts, and although the position wasn't incredibly high, Kool & the Gang became a quick success on the R&B charts. Always a staple of their appeal, the group's live act was documented on two 1971 LPs, Live at the Sex Machine and Live at P.J.'s, including left-field covers of "Walk On By" and "Wichita Lineman" (as well as the not so unusual "I Want to Take You Higher").
Studio albums followed in 1972 and 1973, but it was with Kool & the Gang's sixth LP, Wild and Peaceful, that they hit the big time. "Funky Stuff" became their first Top 40 hit at the end of 1973. Then both "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swinging" reached the pop Top Ten. During the next four years, however, Kool & the Gang could only manage an occasional Top 40 hit ("Higher Plane," "Spirit of the Boogie"), and though they did win a Grammy award for "Open Sesame" (from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), the rise of disco -- a movement centered around producers and vocalists, in direct contrast to the group's focus on instrumentalists -- had appeared to end their popularity.
Then, in 1979, the group added two new vocalists, Earl Toon, Jr. and, more importantly, James "J.T." Taylor, a former Jersey nightclub singer. Kool & the Gang also began working with jazz fusion arranger Eumir Deodato, who produced their records from 1979 to 1982. The first such album, Ladies Night, was their biggest hit yet, the first of three consecutive platinum albums, with the Top Ten singles "Too Hot" and the title track. Celebrate!, released in 1980, spawned Kool & the Gang's only number one hit, "Celebration," an anthem favored by innumerable wedding receptions since. With Deodato, the group produced several more hits, including the singles "Take My Heart (You Can Have It if You Want It)," "Get Down on It," and "Big Fun," and the albums Something Special in 1981 and As One a year later. After Deodato left the fold in late 1982, Kool & the Gang proved their success wasn't solely due to him; they had two immense hits during 1984-1985 ("Joanna" and "Cherish"), as well as two more Top Tens, "Misled" and "Fresh." The group's string of seven gold or platinum records continued until 1986's Forever, after which James "J.T." Taylor amicably left the group for a solo career.
Although Taylor did reasonably well with his solo recordings (many of which were produced by Ronald Bell), Kool & the Gang quickly sank without him. They replaced Taylor with three vocalists, Skip Martin (formerly of the Dazz Band), Odeen Mays, and Gary Brown, but failed to chart their albums Sweat (1989) and Unite (1993). Taylor finally returned to the group in 1995 for the release of a new album, State of Affairs. They continued well throughout the 2000s, releasing 2001's Gangland, 2004's The Hits: Reloaded, and 2007's Still Kool (recorded after the 2006 death of co-founder Charles Smith). They often collaborated with new and well-known younger talent.
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Digitally re-mastered and expanded edition of the R&B/Funk band's 1978 album. Since they'd released their debut album nearly a decade previous to this Kool & The Gang had been present for every single crucial development in funk music-right along with James Brown. That being the case,the quality of their output during the funk era was very high in relation to their commercial success. By the time the 70's entered it's second half,the music was changing. Kool & The Gang for their part responded very well with their previous release Open Sesame',and also added more female singers as well and slicker arrangements. By the time they put out this follow up that hadn't changed for them. Except their commercial fortunes.
"A Place In Space","Slick Superchick","Just Be True" and the title song represent what amounts to five in your face K&TG style funk numbers very much in their early/mid 70's style period. Each of these numbers are very high on that quotiont on their classic funk sound too. On songs like "Mighty Mighty High" and "Oasis" there's something of a new element beginning to take root in their sound that can also be heard on "Life's A Song". The collective style funk vocals are still a huge part of their sound. They have come to better refine the mellower and more melodically crafted elements that were becoming a bit more prominent before into their hard funk sound.
Kool and The Gang - The Force (flac 362mb)
01 A Place In Space 4:50
02 Slick Superchick 4:03
03 Just Be True 4:22
04 The Force 4:21
05 Mighty Mighty High 6:51
06 Oasis 6:04
07 Life's A Song 2:56
08 Free 2:10
09 Slick Superchick (Single Version) 3:27
10 A Place In Space (Single Version) 3:16
11 Mighty Mighty High (12" Disco Version) 11:32
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Kool & the Gang closed out the 1970s by edging the door shut on their classic sound. Ladies' Night marked the band's initial shift from their dirty funk to a more mainstream pop -- a lighter groove that primed clubbers for dance-'til-you-drop style partying. With the Brazilian fusion musician Eumir Deodato stepping into the production helm with a shared vision of "keep[ing] it simple and basic and clean," Kool & the Gang added a hot new spark to their sound, best illustrated across the title track, which topped the R&B charts for nearly a month. This ideal was also furthered on the downtempo soul of "Too Hot." The former was a jangly, spangly slab of pure dance that quickly became a club favorite, the latter a 180 degree shift that focused instead on vocalist James Taylor's rich timbre, a ballad of lost love where his vocals are smoother than even the sax solo. With the rest of the record falling into step behind these two giants, Ladies' Night kicked off Kool & the Gang's new musical era and, even though it certainly distanced some of their more funk-minded fans, it picked up a faithful army who'd keep the band in the charts for nearly a decade to come.
Kool and The Gang - Ladies' Night (flac 198mb)
01 Ladies Night 6:34
02 Got You Into My Life 4:21
03 If You Feel Like Dancin' 5:04
04 Hangin' Out 5:28
05 Tonight's The Night 7:19
06 Too Hot 5:04
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Although disco was well dead by the end of the 1970s, Kool & the Gang nevertheless unleashed a chart-topping, dance-club rattling monster that proved there was still life on the Excess Express. Celebrate, released in fall 1980, further gelled the exquisite relationship between the band and Brazilian fusion guru Deodato and, with equal nods to fusion, funk, and, yes, disco, the album gave the band a massive hit. Reaching into the Top Ten on both the R&B and pop charts, it furthered the comeback commenced with Ladies Night. But it was Celebrate's first baby, the unstoppable "Celebration," that provided the band a comeback of unparalleled heights. Ronald Bell predicted that the song would "be an international anthem," and he was proved right. Not only did it slam to the top of the U.S. charts, it was quickly adopted as a symbol of freedom -- first to welcome home the hostages released from Iran, then to laud Democrat Walter Mondale's presidential nomination. The downside was that this one song not only grossly overshadowed the album, but also set an unreachable standard for the rest of the set, which lost steam in its wake. Although "Jones Vs. Jones" crept into the charts, it was the thumping bass and drums on "Love Festival" and the disco ghosts of "Night People" which emerged as club favorites in the early part of the decade. And Celebrate itself marked the end of an era for Kool & the Gang, as the band would slip even farther from their funk roots and adopted dance grooves into the realms of smooth soul. But what a way to go!
Kool and The Gang - Celebrate! (flac 186mb)
01 Celebration 5:00
02 Jones Vs. Jones 4:18
03 Take It To The Top 4:19
04 Morning Star 3:48
05 Love Festiva 5:16
06 Just Friends 4:23
07 Night People 3:47
08 Love Affair 4:21
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With their long track record, Kool & the Gang have always offered dance-provoking rhythms and Something Special fits that bill, too. Featuring the number one single "Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)," James "J.T." Taylor approaches the song in a cool, mesmerizing tone, closing out the vamp in his falsetto with a burst of energy while the background vocals chant the subtitle throughout the chorus. Not known to lead a song in falsetto, Taylor further utilizes this talent on the motivated rhythms of the nocturnal scenario of "Steppin' Out." It maintained a steady stride, rising to the number ten spot on the charts. The third single from the album was "Get Down on It." As the title indicates, this is a gritty funk track that worked its way up the charts to claim the number three position, selling more than 500,000 copies. Although there were no more charted singles from this album, the entire collection is deserving of recognition. On a slower note, "Pass It On" and "No Show" received regional airplay. The former encourages people to spread love to all children, and the latter is a sorrowful account of a man left standing in the rain, waiting for the love that never showed. Both singles have similar rhythm arrangements. As for inspirational songs, "Stand Up and Sing" is a moderately paced single with lyrics that are uplifting.
Kool and The Gang - Something Special (flac 241mb)
01 Steppin' Out 4:43
02 Good Time Tonight 4:59
03 Take My Heart 4:22
04 Be My Lady 4:13
05 Get Down On It 4:51
06 Pass It On 4:31
07 Stand Up And Sing 4:29
08 No Show 4:16
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