Ladies' Night

Kool & the Gang

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Ladies' Night Review

by Amy Hanson

Kool & the Gang closed out the 1970s by edging the door shut on their classic sound. Ladies' Night marked the band's initial shift from their dirty funk to a more mainstream pop -- a lighter groove that primed clubbers for dance-'til-you-drop style partying. With the Brazilian fusion musician Eumir Deodato stepping into the production helm with a shared vision of "keep[ing] it simple and basic and clean," Kool & the Gang added a hot new spark to their sound, best illustrated across the title track, which topped the R&B charts for nearly a month. This ideal was also furthered on the downtempo soul of "Too Hot." The former was a jangly, spangly slab of pure dance that quickly became a club favorite, the latter a 180 degree shift that focused instead on vocalist James Taylor's rich timbre, a ballad of lost love where his vocals are smoother than even the sax solo. With the rest of the record falling into step behind these two giants, Ladies' Night kicked off Kool & the Gang's new musical era and, even though it certainly distanced some of their more funk-minded fans, it picked up a faithful army who'd keep the band in the charts for nearly a decade to come.

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