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Archive for the ‘Kool & The Gang’ Category

BBR Has “The Force” With Latest Kool and the Gang Remasters

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Kool and the Gang - Everybody's Dancin'Big Break Records is determined to make sure that Everybody’s Dancin’ with its latest two reissues from the kings of Kool.  The Cherry Red label dived into the Kool and the Gang catalogue in late 2013 with deluxe, expanded editions of all four of the band’s epochal albums with arranger-producer Eumir Deodato: Ladies’ Night (1979, Platinum), Celebrate! (1980, Platinum), Something Special (1981, Platinum) and As One (1982, Gold).  Prior to that, BBR had already given similarly lavish treatment to 1976’s Open Sesame.  With a new pair of releases, the label has filled in the gap between Open Sesame and Ladies’ Night.  1977’s The Force and 1978’s Everybody’s Dancin’ are today best remembered as the albums that set the stage for the sensational Ladies’ Night, but these new reissues make a case to appreciate them on their own considerable merits.

Formed in New Jersey as The Jazziacs, Kool and the Gang signed with Gene Redd’s De-Lite Records in 1969, scoring a hit single right away with an eponymous instrumental single.  With that No. 59 Pop/No. 19 R&B chart entry, Kool established its signature blend of soul, pop and jazz.  As the band continued to grow and explore new musical avenues, they scored a gold record in 1974 with Wild and Peaceful (“Funky Stuff,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging”) and in 1975 with the Grammy-nominated Light of Worlds.  Another breakthrough came via Open Sesame when its title song appeared on the colossally successful soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.  But that album became the final chapter of the first era of Kool and the Gang.

Robert “Kool” Bell (bass/vocals), Ronald Bell (tenor saxophone/keyboards/vocals), Dennis “D.T.” Thomas (alto saxophone/vocals), George “Funky” Brown (drums/vocals), Charles Smith (guitar) and Robert “Spike” Mickens (trumpet/vocals) were joined at Philadelphia’s De-Lite Studios by Claydes Smith (guitars/percussion/vocals), Otha Nash (vocals/percussion/trombone/tuba), Donal Boyce (vocals), Arthur Capehart (trumpet) and Kevin Lassiter (keyboards/clavinet/percussion/vocals) for late 1977’s The Force.  On the album’s eight tracks, Kool and the Gang stayed in R&B fusion jazz vein with which their fans were familiar, layering on enough funk to attract the disco revelers with tracks like the Top 20 R&B hit “Slick Superchick.”  In another concession to the times, “A Place in Space” touched on the public’s fascination with sci-fi, but things were more down to earth on the anthem of self-empowerment “Mighty Mighty High.”  Ronald Bell, Claydes Smith and George Brown’s production kept the album’s style slick yet compelling, and for extra sweetening, the MFSB string section even appeared, on loan from Philadelphia International Records.

Kool and the Gang were rewarded with a No. 33 success for The Force on the U.S. R&B chart.  Big Break’s reissue, remastered by Kevin Reeves, adds the single versions of “Slick Superchick” and “A Place in Space” as well as the 12-inch disco mix of “Mighty Mighty High.”  Steven E. Flemming, Jr.’s new liner notes compellingly chronicle both the band’s history and the story behind the album itself.

After the jump, Everybody’s Dancin’! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 19, 2014 at 09:53

Release Round-Up: Week of January 28

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Uncle Tupelo - No Depression Legacy EditionUncle Tupelo, No Depression: Legacy Edition (Legacy)

After at least two teasers in the form of Record Store Day releases, one of the most beloved alt-country albums is greatly expanded as a double-disc set with a host of rare and unreleased demos. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tony Bennett - The ClassicsTony Bennett, The Classics (RPM/Columbia/Legacy)

One of the most beloved singers of the 20th century is the subject of a new career-spanning compilation, available in single and double-disc iterations.

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S.

Sinatra with LoveFrank Sinatra, Sinatra, with Love (Capitol/UMe)

The first in a new Sinatra series (now distributed by Universal) explores the Chairman’s romantic side, with an unreleased alternate take on “My Foolish Heart” from Sinatra’s last studio session for Reprise. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gaslight Anthem B-SidesThe Gaslight Anthem, The B-Sides (SideOneDummy)

The New Jersey rockers compile their rarer tracks on a new single-disc compilation.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Presenting Dionne EdselDionne Warwick, Presenting Dionne Warwick/Anyone Who Had a Heart/Make Way for Dionne Warwick/The Sensitive Sound of Dionne WarwickHere I Am/Live in Paris/Here Where There is Love/On Stage and In the MoviesThe Windows of the World/Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls/Promises, Promises/Soulful…PlusI’ll Never Fall in Love Again/Very Dionne/Dionne/Just Being Myself (Edsel)

Sixteen Dionne Warwick albums (plus some bonus tracks) combined on four new sets from Edsel.

Presenting…Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.
Here I Am…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Windows…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
I’ll Never Fall in Love Again…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Everybody's Dancin'Kool & The Gang, The Force / Kool & The Gang, Everybody’s Dancin’ / Leon Haywood, Naturally (Big Break Records)

The latest from BBR includes two semi-obscure Kool & The Gang LPs (released between their biggest hit periods of the early-mid ’70s and early-mid ’80s) and a funky classic from Leon Haywood.

The Force: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Everybody’s Dancin’: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Naturally: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hazell Dean - BacharachHazell Dean, The Sound of Bacharach and David (Cherry Pop)

An ultra-rare promotional LP from the Hi-NRG queen, making its debut on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

DORY LANGDONDory Previn (Langdon), My Heart is a Hunter (Croydon Municipal)

The debut LP from the Oscar-winning singer/songwriter (otherwise known as The Leprechauns Are Upon Me). Features new sleeve notes by Bob Stanley, author of the recent Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Privates on ParadePrivates on Parade: Original London Cast Recording (Stage Door Records)

The original cast recording to this U.K. farce (later made into a film with John Cleese) gets a CD release. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! BBR Reissues, Expands Four Kool and the Gang Classics

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Kool and the Gang - Ladies NightYou can’t keep a Kool man down.  This week, Robert “Kool” Bell (now known as Muhammad Bayyan) leads the legendary funk-soul-R&B-disco outfit Kool and the Gang through its latest studio album, the Best Buy/Wal-Mart exclusive Kool for the Holidays.  But for nearly 45 years, the music of Kool and the Gang has been celebrated for all seasons.  Big Break Records last revisited the Kool catalogue in 2011 with an expanded edition of 1976’s Open Sesame, but the label is returning to the group in a big way with deluxe reissues of all four of Kool and the Gang’s classic albums produced by Brazilian jazz great Eumir Deodato.  Between 1979 and 1982, Deodato steered Kool and the Gang to three U.S. platinum sellers and one gold disc: Ladies’ Night (1979, Platinum), Celebrate! (1980, Platinum), Something Special (1981, Platinum) and As One (1982, Gold).  The first two titles are out now, with the last two due on November 25.

Formed in Jersey City, New Jersey as The Jazziacs, Kool and the Gang signed with De-Lite Records in 1969, scoring a hit single right away with an eponymous instrumental single.  The No. 59 Pop/No. 19 R&B entry signaled the arrival of a band that could deftly blend soul, pop and jazz into a cohesive whole.  Their successes continued apace, with highlights including the 1974 gold-selling Wild and Peaceful (“Funky Stuff,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging”), the Grammy-nominated gold disc Light of Worlds (1975) and  Open Sesame, with its title track achieving disco immortality on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.  But the best was still yet to come.  Enter Eumir Deodato.

Keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Deodato began his career as a major proponent of the bossa nova scene in his native Brazil, and soon became a sought-after arranger for the likes of Roberta Flack, George Benson, and even The Chairman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra.  Although he had been a solo recording artist since the early 1960s, Deodato‘s solo career took off at Creed Taylor’s CTI label at the dawn of the new decade.  In addition to a high-profile collaboration with Astrud Gilberto and Stanley Turrentine (1971’s Gilberto with Turrentine), Deodato scored an unexpected crossover hit the next year with his jazz-funk rendition of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”  When the classical composition and 2001: A Space Odyssey theme was released as a single, it shot to No. 2 Pop.  It eventually netted a 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.  More solo work followed for CTI (including 1974’s Deodato/Airto in Concert with fellow Brazilian, drummer Airto Moreira), MCA and Warner Bros., but a chance encounter with Kool and the Gang in West Orange, New Jersey’s House of Music studio proved fateful.  The band invited Deodato to produce their next album, and despite some false starts, the project that eventually became Ladies’ Night came together.

We have full details on all four albums, plus track listings and order links, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 8, 2013 at 13:01

The Softer Side of UMe’s Budget Compilation Lines: “Ballads” Released

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Marvin Gaye BalladsHaving recently introduced some EMI-controlled artists to the ICON roster, Universal now incorporates some of those artists (and some of their most treasured R&B and country acts) into a new budget-oriented series, Ballads.

And while none of the artists covered here really, truly need more compilations on the market – and, one can assume, the assembly of these is as low-impact as the ICON series – there’s actually some promise to be had here. The overall selection of artists isn’t terrible, particularly on the EMI side; new sets from culled from the catalogues of Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson as well as The O’Jays three albums on EMI America in the late 1980s/early 1990s are all anthologized here, giving fans perhaps a lesser-seen side of these acts.

And that’s the case throughout: from country crooners (Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill) to Motown acts (Marvin Gaye, New Edition) and other soul acts (Barry White, The Impressions, Kool & The Gang), there’s not a terrible amount of “same old, same old” tracks. Some barely have any singles on them, making for a good “second step” if you’ve got any of these group’s earlier compilations.

All titles can be found after the jump and can be ordered or bought in stores now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Everybody Dance! Japan Gets New CHIC Compilation

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As a celebration of being cancer-free, CHIC guitarist and producer extraordinaire Nile Rodgers announced today that Warner Japan was releasing a new compilation of material that spans both his work with the legendary disco band and in the producer’s chair.

Everybody Dance!, billed as “a tribute to my longtime partner Bernard Edwards” on the front cover (it’s approaching the 15th anniversary of the bassist’s death), is a two-disc set full of hits, one new track – and one absolute oddity. Disc 1, the “CHIC side,” collects the biggest hits and favorite tracks from every CHIC record, including “Good Times,” “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” “My Feet Keep Dancing” and more. (One would expect the quality to be relatively pristine, with much of this material remastered for Rhino France’s excellent CHIC box from last year.) Disc 2 is the “producer side,” featuring major hits from the usual suspects (Madonna, Sister Sledge, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Duran Duran) and a few obscure Rodgers-produced singles for Thompson Twins, Al Jarreau and the Coming to America soundtrack. One new track, “I Wanna Dance,” is present, featuring Rodgers with Kool & The Gang.

It looks to be an excellent set – but there’s one very weird occurrence in the track list. The penultimate track on Disc 2 is David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s cover of “Dancing in the Street” from 1985, a track that was not primarily produced by Rodgers, but British hitmakers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Rodgers is listed on the original single under “additional production,” but this author doesn’t consider it a full Rodgers work – and seeing as how it was licensed from another label, it only costs Warner more money.

Regardless, Everybody Dance! should be a hit when it’s released in Japan on April 6. Hit the jump to check out the track list. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 1, 2011 at 16:51

Five Disco Classics Coming from Big Break in April (UPDATED 3/16)

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Big Break Records continues its busy schedule with five new disco and dance titles from the ’70s and ’80s coming to CD on April 25.

The records in question are Open Sesame by Kool & The Gang (which spawned several danceable hits in the title track – heard in Saturday Night Fever – and “Super Band”); Pennye Ford’s Pennye and Yarbrough & Peoples’ Be a Winner, both cut for the Total Experience label in the mid-’80s; and the sole albums by Loose Change and TJM, both of which were produced (and in the latter case, the only album performed) by legendary disco king Tom Moulton (pictured at left).

All the sets are augmented with non-LP tracks and single edits or remixes (although some of the discographical details have been incredibly difficult to nail down – let us know what we might be missing UPDATE: No wonder they were so hard to find! We had the wrong bonus tracks for some. Thanks to everyone who set us straight!) (Corrected) Track lists and pre-order links are after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2011 at 10:00