Monday, June 12, 2017

Kool & The Gang - Wild And Peaceful (1973)

“Wild and Peaceful” by Kool & The Gang (1973)

Release Date: September 1973
Produced by Kool & The Gang
Genre: Funk, R&B
Label: De-Lite
Chart Positions: #33 (US), #53 (Canada)
Certifications: Gold (US)

Singles: “Funky Stuff” #6 (Brazil), #17 (UK), #29 (US), #58 (Japan), “Jungle Boogie” #3 (Brazil), #4 (US), #29 (Canada), #45 (Germany), “Hollywood Swinging” #6 (US), #15 (Canada), #25 (Japan)
Singles Certifications: "Jungle Boogie" (Gold US), "Hollywood Swinging" (Gold US)

Kool and the Gang hit the scene in 1969 producing a sound that was heavily jazz and funk influenced. By 1973 their sound had changed radically dropping the jazz vibes and trading it in for an R&B funk sound more true to the genre. Wild and Peaceful is the fourth studio album released by the funk band Kool & the Gang, and is their commercial breakthrough album. The album was released in 1973 and was hugely successful on the Billboard R&B chart reaching #6 and charting for 36 weeks. It also reached #33 on the Pop charts, making it the band's first entry into that chart's Top 40.

By 1973, funk music was in high swing. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, the originator and founder of funk, continued to keep funk going with his albums and singles such as “I Got Ants in My Pants,” “Stoned to the Bone” and his smash tune with Fred Wesley & The JBs, “Doing It to Death.”  Other groups and artists kept the funk going strong, including Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament/Funkdadelic, The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Ohio Players, Cymande and Mandrill, among others. But there was one group that had been on the music scene for a while but was about to break open into the mainstream with their new album. The group is Kool & the Gang.

“Wild & Peaceful,” was released in September 1973 and became an instant hit and was popular at both house parties and underground clubs (which would soon be more commonly known as discos). There were songs you could dance your butt off to and songs you could relax to. The album has what the group called “The New York Sound.”

The first single release “Funky Stuff,” was Kool and the Gang’s first Top 40 hit reaching #29 and their first to make it into the US R&B charts top ten making it to #8. “Funky Stuff” which opens with the shrill sound of a party whistle and goes into a mid-tempo groove highlighted by horns, guitars and the celebratory sounds of party whistles and the catchy chorus of “can’t get enough of that funky stuff” and the “whoa whoa whoa” hook. (Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin even stated “can’t get enough of that funky stuff” in her 1976 scorcher “Something He Can Feel.”)

The horn led - jazz tinged, “Jungle Boogie” is noted for the Tarzan yell heard at the song's end and the grunting, panting, and the scatting heard throughout and was the second single release and is the single that set Kool and the Gang on fire. This song went all the way to #4 on the US singles chart their first of many twelve 10 hits. The song also made it to #2 on the US R&B chart and remains one of the five biggest hits of their entire career. The song sold more than a million copies and was certified Gold by the RIAA on February 2, 1974.

"Jungle Boogie" is the best remembered of the early Kool & The Gang hits up there with the best work by Parliament and Barry White. The song not only received heavy radio airplay but was hugely popular in dance clubs and house parties.

The main spoken vocals on "Jungle Boogie" were performed by then-roadie, Donald Boyce, who became better known as "The Boogie Man." Boyce's vocals on the hit were so popular he was invited to sing back-up and perform "vocal effects" on a number of Kool & The Gang singles, including "Spirit of the Boogie," "Open Sesame," and "Slick Superchick." Boyce performed with the band from 1973 to 1977.

Finally the third single from the album “Hollywood Swinging” was another huge Top ten hit reaching US #6 and was their first #1 hit on the R&B charts. The song was their second Gold certified single. “Hollywood Swinging” kept the hard funk groove going featuring lead vocals by band’s keyboardist, Ricky West, in which he sang about being inspired of becoming a part of a band after seeing a Kool & the Gang concert. The cut’s celebratory horns and its “hey hey hey, whatcha got to say” hook, along with its steady groove, made for some serious partying. The song is anchored by Robert "Kool" Bell's circus-funk bass line when blended with the rest of the outstanding musicianship turns this song into a memorable song for the generations.

Hollywood Swinging (1973)

Rick West was a driving force in creating the track, which tells the story of seeing Kool & the Gang live onstage and wanting to become "a bad piano-playing man." Ronald Bell explained: "Rick wrote the verses, and it's a true story. We did play in Hollywood [to record Live at P.J.s] and he was taken by it. But while it was a true story, it was really for everybody. As kids, Kool and I used to go see John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Art Blakey, all the jazz greats. We looked up to them and wanted to 'get into a band'."

“Hollywood Swinging” packs appropriate punch and became a favorite of the brit-funkers. Jungle Boogie demonstrated the exceptionally tight groove of bassist 'Kool'’ and drummer 'Funky' George Brown. Quentin Tarantino made it the main title theme of Pulp Fiction in 1995 and the world suddenly realized that Kool and The Gang had a life before their Celebration hit-making years.

Album highlight “More Funky Stuff” takes off where “Funky Stuff” left off at with horns, guitars and the “la di da di da” chant. “More Funky Stuff” was the b-side of the single “Funky Stuff” and received moderate airplay in clubs and radio.

The title track, "Wild and Peaceful" changes the pace of the album, this sit back and chill number showcases the band's deep jazz roots and their ability to produce a top notch month groove. The song received a fare amount of airplay on jazz stations and still does to this day.

Kool & The Gang (1973)


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