Kool & the Gang

Gangthology

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A group with two distinct careers (and a matching fan base for each), Kool & the Gang recorded dozens of great sides during their 20-year career, but anthologists have often floundered when attempting to sum up the group with a decade-spanning collection. The problem is always the same: what's the correct ratio of early material (organic funk jams) to later material (synthetic urban pop), and how to sequence it? The Australian compilation Gangthology divides its track listing not by chronology but by mood, separating the contents into one disc titled "Wild" and one titled "Peaceful" (a concept sparked by Kool & the Gang's own Wild and Peaceful LP). The focus is justifiably on the band's early-to-mid-'70s artistic peak, with all but ten of the 33 tracks coming from that period and including all the major hits ("Hollywood Swinging," "Jungle Boogie," "Funky Stuff") plus a full dozen neglected album tracks of the time (like "Street Corner Symphony" and "Whiting H. & G."). The band's time with J.T. Taylor at the helm gets plenty of space too, with a miniset on the first disc comprising "Ladies Night," "Steppin' Out," "Celebration," "Get Down on It," and "Fresh." The second disc reveals -- for those who've never investigated the band fully -- that Kool & the Gang were just as good at making jazzy, impressionistic music (just listen to "Summer Madness" and "Winter Sadness") as they were with the hooky, chorus-led jams they're known for. One caveat, however: in attempting to fill out the second disc with "peaceful" material, the compilers were forced to include subpar material like "You Don't Have to Change" and "Messenger of Wisdom." How ironic that in looking for a different way to anthologize Kool & the Gang, they fell prey to the same pitfall; a better ratio here would have been 75% wild and only 25% peaceful.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:30 Spotify
2 3:33 Spotify
3 5:33
4 3:06
5 4:02 Spotify
6 5:03 Spotify
7 5:37 Spotify
8 3:18 Spotify
9 4:17 Spotify
10 5:05 Spotify
11 2:40 Spotify
12 5:45 Spotify
13 2:08 Spotify
14 4:03 Spotify
15 5:08 Spotify
16 4:18 Spotify
17 9:31 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick