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Album Review

Believe it or not, Gold is the first compilation with U.S. distribution to provide a fair and rather thorough glance at Kool & the Gang's career from 1969 through 1987. Dozens upon dozens of other sets either focus on one of the group's distinct eras or attempt clumsily to appease those who want "Jungle Boogie" and "Joanna" in one spot. The Chronicles catalog division of Mercury realized that roughly 90 percent of Kool & the Gang's chart hits can fit neatly on two discs, so this is an ideal package for casual fans who can appreciate raw '70s funk and slick, radio-friendly '80s R&B. It would be impossible to plot a thorough introductory course across two discs, since the group's catalog runs too deep. There wasn't enough room for the likes of "Steppin' Out," "Jones vs. Jones," "Slick Superchick," or "Take It to the Top," all of which were popular on black radio stations, and the compilers' decision to focus on the biggest singles means that a lot of subdued album cuts — such as "Breeze and Soul" and "Winter Sadness" — aren't factored in. A lot of care went into the presentation, with plenty of photos, thorough chart-placement information, and insightful liner notes from group associate Cleveland Brown. No Kool & the Gang compilation can be flawless, but this is one of the best ones out there.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in Jersey City, NJ

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Gold, Kool & The Gang
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