Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Funkdown | Kool & The Gang

Kool & The Gang was formed in 1964 in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Original members include Robert “Kool” Bell, brother Ronald Bell, George Brown, Robert Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Claydes Charles Smith and Rick Westfield.  Together, the band has sold over 70 million records.
They band was signed to De-Lite records in 1969 where they recorded their first album.  After some success on the Pop and R&B charts with their first few albums, the band found mainstream acceptance with the release of Wild and Peaceful, which included hits “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swingin”.  With the release of their next 2 albums Light of Worlds (1974) and Spirit of the Boogie (1975), Kool & The Gang reached the height of their success as a funk band.  Although their single “Summer Madness” gained much attention, the band decided to go in a different direction and test the up-and-coming pop-funk genre.
In 1979 James “J.T.” Taylor joined the group as their new lead singer.  His arrival lead to hits such as “Ladies Night”, “Celebration”, “Get Down On It” and “Joanna”.  “Fresh” and “Cherish” were both Top 20 hits on Emergency, which was released in 1984.
Since then, many of the original band members have retired, moved on to solo careers, or passed away.  However, Kool & The Gang is still touring with Robert and Ronald Bell as the only remaining original members.
Many hip hop artists have sampled Kool & The Gang, such as Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, NWA, Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon and EPMD.
My mom was a huge Kool & The Gang fan, with either Robert Bell or J.T. on vocals.  They are like 2 totally different bands depending on who is singing.  I prefer the older, funkier Kool & The Gang as opposed to the more pop/r&b group of the 80s.  Whatever your preference, Kool & The Gang will always get people out on the dance floor.

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