Kool & the Gang's penultimate album, and vocalist James "J.T." Taylor's last with the band before he left for a solo career, 1986's Forever marked the group's final Top Ten hit. And, while it was still a slick slab of competent R&B, Forever was a far cry from the driving funk grooves of Kool's earlier material. Having been fully in the grasp of the mainstream since the beginning of the decade, Kool & the Gang popped a further three songs into the Top 20 in late 1986/early 1987. Both "Victory" and "Stone Love" are sharp, synthesized pop, while "Holiday," though heavy on lyrical clichés, is graced by a wonderful bassline -- sorely missed from much of the band's latter-day repertoire. The title track, meanwhile, emerges as an elegant ballad by 1980s standards, while elsewhere the band combines both elements across "Peace Maker" and the melancholy "Broadway," which hides power ballad rock guitars deep in the mix. Long past their classic funk prime, Kool & the Gang were also fast teetering on the precipice of wearing out their pop welcome as well. Despite some rocky moments, best forgotten, Forever remains a competent last hurrah for Taylor, and indeed for the band itself.
AllMusic Review by Amy Hanson