Formed as a jazz ensemble in the mid-'60s, Kool & the Gang became one of the most inspired and influential funk units during the '70s, and one of the most popular R&B groups of the '80s after their breakout hit "Celebration." Just as funky as James Brown or Parliament (and sampled almost as frequently), Kool & the Gang relied on their jazz backgrounds and long friendship to form a tightly knit group with the interplay and improvisation of a jazz outfit, plus the energy and spark of a band with equal ties to soul, R&B, and funk. Their 21 Top 40 hits exhibit uncommon range, from the tough funk of "Jungle Boogie," to the smooth instrumental soul of "Summer Madness," to the lively pop of "Joanna." As an album act, they've been just as successful, having hit the Top Ten of the R&B chart with a dozen LPs that include the gold Wild and ...
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