Every now and then, I post an entry that was written for 1000 Recordings but didn't make the final cut. In the case of Kool and the Gang, my alltime favorite album is Live at the Sex Machine, which is incredibly hard to find and therefore not the best choice for a book dedicated to discovery. I settled on Wild and Peaceful, which is a totally solid record, and then held it back because it seemed R&B from this period was a bit overrepresented -- what with War, the incredible output of Motown and Philly International, etc.
Before “Celebrate,” These Guys Really Jammed
WILD AND PEACEFUL
Kool and the Gang
When the producers of the TV sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, based on comedian Chris Rock’s adolescence, wanted music to accompany a scene of Halloween bedlam breaking out at school, they turned to Kool and the Gang’s 1973 hit “Jungle Boogie.” It was an inspired choice: The rubbery bassline and taunting, wild-animal horns form a brazen and choatic sound-picture.
“Jungle Boogie” is one in a string of thumping, totally infectious Kool and the Gang gems that arrived years before soft nothings like “Joanna” and the tepid wedding-reception wiggle “Celebrate” made the Jersey City collective into a commercial juggernaut. Like the brass-rock band Chicago, Kool and the Gang started out making credible music: Its early albums were built on uptight R&B rhythms reminsecent of the great James Brown bands, and its live show, documented on a thrilling concert album from 1970, Live at the Sex Machine, regularly attained supercharged heights.
Wild And Peaceful is both a roaring party (the Wild side 1 on the original vinyl) and a more reflective, unselfconsciously sophisticated inquiry (the Peaceful side). The several songs that became hits – “Jungle Boogie,” the similarly feral “Hollywood Swinging” – have energy to burn and melody to spare. But in truth everything Kool did around this time is informed by a sense of invention, and a polished execution later picked up by Earth, Wind and Fire. Spin this to be reminded that sometimes big hits are the worst thing to happen to a group.
Released: De-Lite/Polygram, 1973.
Key Tracks: “Wild And Peaceful,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging.”
Catalog Choice: Live at the Sex Machine.
Next Stop: The Ohio Players: Fire.
After That: Rufus: Ask Rufus.
Recordings of Interest, from The List
#1 from Bfm, San Francisco, CA - 01/23/2010 7:35
Sure, if you are looking for vinyl or CD “Live From the Sex Machine” is hard to find but you can download the album from Amazon for less than $10 right now. Not ideal certainly and being of a certain age, I definitely prefer hard media but the music is readily available to anyone. One of the amazing benefits of our age though not without qualification due to the current state of digital’s inferior sound quality.
#2 from Mo, Washington DC - 01/25/2010 3:38
YES to all of this!!! Thanks for nudging my memory.
And (if I may…)
Heatwave: Boogie Nights, The Groove Line
Tower of Power: What is Hip?
Average White Band: Pick Up the Pieces, Cut the Cake
#3 from Kieran - 01/31/2010 4:00
Not such where else to post this tom
I just wanted to suggest making a iPhone app with the list on it. I’m always in CD stores finding myself asking the question “I know this band is on the list but which ablum is it?”
Also it would be great to see a forum on the website - i’m sure alots of people going through the list would like to talk to other music fans
#4 from Mo, Washington DC - 02/02/2010 2:46
I’m so in. (And I SOOOO don’t do things like that…)
#5 from frankenslade - 02/09/2010 12:02
Good to know Kool and the Gang produced more along the lines of “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging,” two AM radio hits of my youth that never got enough airplay to satisfy me. I’ll have to check out the older albums you recommend.Commenting is not available in this content area entry.