Kool & the Gang

Kool & the Gang Spin Their Top Hits

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Lest anyone is expecting extravaganzas like "Celebration" or other crossover hits from the early '80s, Kool & the Gang's Spin Their Top Hits strictly covers the band's funk-filled '70s chart successes. Although singer James "J.T." Taylor's cool-breeze approach may have given the band their biggest chart toppers, Kool & the Gang's longevity rests with the jazz-informed grooves heard here. Coming off as part early Earth, Wind & Fire and a prelude to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," "Open Sesame" starts things off with some fantasy funk for the dancefloor, sounding every bit the high-end disco showstopper that made it a highlight of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Equally anthemic highlights like "Hollywood Swinging" and "Jungle Boogie" bring back radio memories, while in-the-pocket instrumentals such as "Kool & the Gang" and "Funky Stuff" make one pine for more of the band's many sophisticated non-vocal cuts. The group tops things off with a mix of fetching synth solos, after-hours funk ambience, and slicked-up West Indian rhythms, but in the meantime still manage to slip in a few limp efforts like "Spirit of the Boogie" and "Love and Understanding." Thankfully, even these questionable cuts have their own virtues on this essential disc for fans and newcomers alike.

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