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Love and Understanding

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Album Review

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. Three live tracks, "Hollywood Swinging," "Summer Madness," and a dreamily mellow "Universal Sound," are all excellent reminders of just how good this band could sound when they found the vibe and had the funk firmly in hand. But as good as this stuff is, there are ominous glimmers among the goods, of musical moves the band were contemplating — heard most markedly in the bland "Sugar" and "Do It Right Now." For, despite the sureness with which they were creating driving funk, they were also struggling with the oncoming disco explosion. That push-pull was duly reflected in the album. The studio tracks are the most uneven. At their best, they are dominated by the opening title track and its near-instrumental twin shadow "Come Together," which closes. Both songs are horn heavy, an insistent call for unity, love, and peace. The rest of the album is sandwiched between this jazzy cacophony but, despite the rocky moments, Love and Understanding remains a remarkable album, recorded at a time when the band was still reveling in the grip of pure funk, uncorrupted by the mainstream.


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...
Full bio
Love and Understanding, Kool & The Gang
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  • $7.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Funk
  • Released: 1976

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