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Kool & The Gang

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 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. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Kool & The Gang Gold

Disc 1

1. Kool & The Gang

2. Kool's Back Again

3. Let The Music Take Your Mind

4. Funky Man

5. Who's Gonna Take The Weight

6. Love The Life You Live

7. Funky Stuff

8. Jungle Boogie

9. Hollywood Swinging

10. Higher Plane

11. Rhyme Tyme People

12. Summer Madness

13. Spirit Of The Boogie

14. Caribbean Festival

15. Love And Understanding (Come Together)

16. Open Sesame

Disc 2

1. Ladies Night

2. Too Hot

3. Celebration

4. Take My Heart (You Can Have It)

5. Get Down On It

6. Big Fun

7. Let's Go Dancin' (Ooh, LA, LA, La)

8. Joanna

9. Tonight (AOR Mix)

10. Misled

11. Fresh

12. Cherish

13. Emergency

14. Victory

15. Stone Love

x

Track List: The hits: Reloaded

1. Jones Vs. Jones (feat. Angie Stone)

2. Jungle boogie (feat. redman)

3. Take My Heart (feat. Blu Cantrell)

4. Hollywood Swinging (feat. Jamiroquai)

5. Too Hot (feat. Lisa Stansfield)

6. Ladies night (feat. Sean Paul & Spanner Banner)

7. Cherish (feat. Ashanti)

8. No Show (feat. Blackstreet)

9. (Ooh La La La) Let's Go Dancin' (feat. Jimmy Cliff & Bounty Killer)

10. Summer Madness (feat. Youssou N'Dour)

11. Jazziacs A The Kool Jazz Cafe

x

Track List: The Ultimate Collection

Disc 1

1. Ladies Night

2. Too Hot

3. Hangin' Out

5. Celebration

6. Jones Vs Jones

7. Take It To The Top

9. Get Down On It

10. Good Time Tonight

11. Steppin' Out

12. Think It Over

13. Big Fun

15. Hi De Hi Hi De Ho

Disc 2

1. Straight Ahead

2. Tonight

3. Joanna

4. In The Heart

5. Fresh

6. Cherish

7. Misled

8. Bad Woman

9. Emergency

10. Victory

11. God's Country

12. Peacemaker

13. Stone Love

14. Rags To Riches

15. Strong

Disc 3
x

Track List: The Best of Kool & The Gang - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection

1. Celebration

2. Jungle Boogie

3. Ladies Night

4. Joanna

5. Get Down On It

6. Hollywood Swinging

7. Cherish

8. Fresh

9. Too Hot

10. Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)

11. Let's Go Dancin' (Ooh, La, La, La)

x

Track List: Celebrate

1. Celebration

2. Jones Vs. Jones

3. Take It To The Top

4. Morning Star

5. Love Festival

6. Just Friends

7. Night People

8. Love Affair

x

Track List: Love And Understanding

1. Love & Understanding

2. Sugar

3. Do It Right Now

4. Cosmic Energy

5. Hollywood Swinging (Live)

6. Summer Madness (Live)

7. Universal Sound (Live)

8. Come Together

x

Track List: Wild And Peaceful

1. Funky Stuff

2. More Funky Stuff

3. Jungle Boogie

4. Heaven At Once

5. Hollywood Swinging

6. This Is You, This Is Me

7. Life Is What You Make It

8. Wild And Peacful

x

Track List: Celebration: The Best Of Kool & The Gang 1979-1987

1. Celebration

2. Get Down On It

3. Fresh

4. Too Hot

5. Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)

6. Let's Go Dancing

7. Misled

8. Cherish (12'' Version)

9. Ladies Night

10. Steppin' Out

11. Joanna

12. In The Heart

13. Take It To The Top

14. Tonight

15. No Show

16. Straight Ahead

17. Stone Love

x

Track List: Emergency

1. Emergency

2. Fresh

3. Misled

4. Cherish

5. Surrender

6. Bad Woman

7. You Are The One

x

Track List: Greatest Hits Live! (Live)

1. Victory (Live)

2. Ladies Night (Live)

3. Fresh (Live)

4. Take My Heart (Live)

5. Hollywood Swinging (Live)

6. Too Hot (Live)

7. Joanna (Live)

8. Cherish (Live)

9. Ooh La La La (Let's Go Dancing) (Live)

10. Get Down On It (Live)

11. Celebration (Live)

12. Tonight (Live)

13. Emergency (Live)

x

Track List: Something Special

1. Steppin' Out

2. Good Time Tonight

3. Take My Heart

4. Be My Lady

5. Get Down On It

6. Pass It On

7. Stand Up And Sing

8. No Show

9. Stop!

Comments

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dragonlady60 8 8
SOUL FOOD IS A GREAT MOVIE
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dragonlady60 8 8
This music is so missed this CRAP THEY PLAY TODAY SUCKS
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Best stuff around. Peace music Love and happiness when we Loved each other ��������
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❤❤❤❤❤
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Funky...
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Does anyone remember hearing this song on the movie "This Christmas" ?
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A very smooth groove..
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❤❤❤❤❤
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Hey, Hey, Hey love me some Kool & and the Gang.
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I love kool the gang music
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Love, peace & Jesus.
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Played it at my club in 70s in Anchorage Alaska great time in my life
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❤❤❤❤❤
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beerman.rg
Roma Ann luv u
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Summer. Madness was the best jazz peice they made
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What about Summer Madness? That was the s**t!
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Yea this is my song celebrate yahoo baby
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Me and home use to listen to Kool and his band on his set pioneer turntable nice speakers and chill lol
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flykid1987
I don't care if I'm in a bad mood this song makes me feel good for some reason
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aestrada223
Wouldn't it be nice if there were more dance halls in more cities and the rule would be ten dances minimum per hour, instead of a drink minimum. Two things happen, you can potentially lose weight and your risk of leaving under the influence is also potentially reduced greatly. Care to dance young lady? Ha Ha Ha.
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My giirl is fresh boy is she FRESH.
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I love this song.
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LOVE GET DOWN ON IT��
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Love it
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Get,down on it.(?)……
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The horns and bass are tight!!
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T.Dec
Very,...Kool .
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I love celebrate good times
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I care about you! From hit MO vie soundtrack Soul Food
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Fresh......M e m o r i e s oh yes...
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Can we go back, this music was the real funk.
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Yes get down on it love to get down
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This music bring so much memories it was the best years of my life.
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dragonlady60 8 8
Bono this is FUNK
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What is this disco garbage doing on my classic rock station ? Get Out !
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This song brings back a lot of memories I'm a child of the 1980s the best decade ever!!!
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I yi8y Ft hi 88887yhyh8yg 8 y 8 7 8 j y y g y y 8 j u 8 8 8 7 8
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hlore58
I can be anywhere and this will get me dancing!!! Best funk group. Love the coordinated look of the groups back then. COOL!
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pjames7553
Bellbottoms
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Ohh, jungle bugie, Robot...
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I Am A LADY........ . . . L u c k y ME......XXXX O O O
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Good songs all the time
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Get Down On It.......... . b a c k in the day this was the house party jam!!
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Yahoo...love this song!
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manuelcynthi a 1 2
The best music to dance too.
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THESE. GUYS STARTED A MOVEMENT
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recon04m
I just like the song Celebration more than a poor man or woman.��
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Get your back up off the wall....get down on it!
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Love the cool and the Gang members of my life in Brooklyn East N Y was the best year
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Earth wind and Fire By the
External dance. Was a great record back in the 60's and 70's
This record is a great tune when I
Listen to these sounds you are steppin back to that time period
Dan the Man

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