Kool & the Gang

Music Is the Message

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    6
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Kool & the Gang's fourth album -- but only their second studio record -- was just as strong and joyous as its live predecessors, though it featured a few more vocals and emphasized strong musicianship over hard grooves. (Of course, the band always did pretty well at both.) The title track and "Love the Life You Live" were two more great party jams to add to their repertoire, despite the growing similarity of Robert "Kool" Bell's basslines. The two-part "Electric Frog" was a squelchy instrumental spotlighting an Arp synthesizer and some great ensemble playing on the chorus, while the band reserved a great feature for trumpeter Robert "Spike" Mickens on "Blowin' with the Wind." "Love the Life You Live" was the most fully realized early Kool & the Gang jam, and the one that most looks forward to their parade of hits to come ("Funky Stuff," "Hollywood Swinging"). Ending the album with a smile (if not style) was "Funky Granny," a lightweight but hilarious sequel to their 1970 hit "Funky Man."

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