Watch Kool & the Gang 40th Anniversary Concert

A very talented group of musicians that rose to the top of the music world not once but twice, Kool & the Gang continues to be one of the most beloved bands of the last 40 years.  Formed by Robert "Kool" Bell, his brother Ronald Bell and bunch of their New Jersey teenage friends in the mid-60s (then called the Jazziacs), the group played traditional jazz in regional venues for several years, slowly morphing their style to incorporate emerging funk sounds of Sly and the Family Stone and James Brown.  They were signed by the De-Lite label in the early 70s and gathered a small but loyal national following (particularly for their 1971 release Live at the Sex Machine).  The group's fortunes exploded in 1974 with Wild and Peaceful, an infectiously raw album that spawned three smash hits, "Funky Stuff," "Hollywood Swinging," and "Jungle Boogie," all featuring great instrumentation and lyrics virtually shouted by the group.  However, as qu

A very talented group of musicians that rose to the top of the music world not once but twice, Kool & the Gang continues to be one of the most beloved bands of the last 40 years.  Formed by Robert "Kool" Bell, his brother Ronald Bell and bunch of their New Jersey teenage friends in the mid-60s (then called the Jazziacs), the group played traditional jazz in regional venues for several years, slowly morphing their style to incorporate emerging funk sounds of Sly and the Family Stone and James Brown.  They were signed by the De-Lite label in the early 70s and gathered a small but loyal national following (particularly for their 1971 release Live at the Sex Machine).  The group's fortunes exploded in 1974 with Wild and Peaceful, an infectiously raw album that spawned three smash hits, "Funky Stuff," "Hollywood Swinging," and "Jungle Boogie," all featuring great instrumentation and lyrics virtually shouted by the group.  However, as quickly as they rode to fame, Kool & the Gang faded, their rough sound appearing out of place against the slick, dance-oriented sounds that began to dominate popular radio in the late 70s.

Kool & the Gang was an afterthought in the music world in 1979 when they brought in the honey-sounding lead James J.T. Taylor and pop/jazz producer Eumir Deodato for one last gasp, a shiny dance album called Ladies Night.  Deodato simplified and sweetened the group's jazz stylings in a heavily produced package, fronted by Taylor's irresistible tenor voice.  It was an across-the-board smash, leading to two top hits, the title cut and the midtempo "Too Hot."  It was also the beginning of a nearly unprecedented string of top 10 pop and soul hits for the group that would make Kool & the Gang the top selling soul group of the 80s.  Ladies Night was followed by the even bigger Celebration, the joyous title cut of which became the theme song of countless sports teams in the 80s and one of the most played songs of the past 25 years.  The next five years brought hit after hit, including chart toppers "Misled," "Cherish," "Take My Heart," "Joanna," "Fresh" and "Let's Go Dancin'."

The new hits may have slowed down, but the band hasn't. Kool & the Gang continue to perform around the world. They recently performed their 40th Anniversary tour around the world. Here is a video of that performance in Denver. Check it out and enjoy!

 
SoulTracks Choice Cut - Toni Redd - "Underneath My Skin"
Song of the Month - Stokley - "Level"
CD of the Month - Phil Perry - Breathless
Pre-order now! - Norman Brown - Let It Go

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