A different and equally enjoyable proposition.
Daryl Easlea 2009-02-18
Kool and the Gang did not hit the UK charts until the tail end of 1979 with their Deodato-produced single Ladies Night. However, the soul brethren in the know had rocked to them some six years previously. One of the most appropriately titled records ever, Wild And Peaceful, was New Jersey funkers Kool and the Gang's sixth release and fourth studio album. For many, it remains their greatest work.
The Gang redefined the word 'swagger' with their bouncy, ebullient sound, influenced by Manu Dibango's African classic Soul Makossa, the album contains three of their best-known hits – Funky Stuff, Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swinging.
Heaven At Once is a spoken-word call and response between Robert 'Kool' Bell and his youngest brother, Rory. It's probably – and, bearing in mind the embarrassment of riches this album contains – its greatest track. It's like breathing in fresh air on a beautiful summer's morning. Kool lays out the group's manifesto: ''We are scientists of sound, we are mathematically putting it down''. It's not just the soul boys that were listening, the horn riffs are like something from a later Van Morrison record. The slow-building title track, graced by DT's flute, is another stand-out.
Hollywood Swinging packs appropriate punch and became a favourite of the brit-funkers. Jungle Boogie demonstrated the exceptionally tight groove of bassist 'Kool'’ and drummer 'Funky' George Brown. Quentin Tarantino made it the main title theme of Pulp Fiction in 1995 and the world suddenly realised that Kool and The Gang had a previous life than their Celebration hit-making years.
Wild And Peaceful defined the early years of Kool and the Gang and gave them great commercial success in the US. It reached the Top 10 in the US R&B charts and went Top 40 pop. If you only know their later years, this album, as with a great deal of their early work, is a different – and equally enjoyable – proposition.