A massive package of work from the mighty Kool & The Gang – 6 full albums from the 80s, served up here in a 3CD set! First up is Ladies Night – a shameless dancefloor cash-in move – but a record that's still pretty darn great as well! You all know the big
title cut "Ladies Night", so we won't bother to describe it – but we can say that the group wisely hooked up with Deodato, who produced, mixed, and even played keyboards on the album. Deodato keeps a nice jazzy punch in the tracks, while still moving towards the slickly produced funk sound that was the group's main approach at the time of the record. JT Taylor's on vocals, and the album's even got a few mellow cuts – like the crossover easy number "Too Hot" – amidst the midtempo 80s grooves that really step out and make the whole thing move. Other tracks include "Ladies Night", "Hangin Out", "Tonight's The Night", "If You Feel Like Dancin", and "Got You Into My Life". The next album is Something Special indeed – as the album was one of the biggest hits for Kool & The Gang, and showed that the group still had plenty of energy left to groove into the 80s! The record features production work by Brazilian music maestro Eumir Deodato – who by this point had become a sweet and smooth talent with a real flair for putting over a modern soul groove! Deodato's approach is really great – smooth, yet soulful, without any tricks or gimmicks – and a real appreciation for lead vocals and a catchy little hook! The album features the group's party classic "Get Down On It", plus "Steppin Out", "No Show", "Pass It On", "Be My Lady", "Take My Heart", and "Good Time Tonight". As One is solid 80s grooving from Kool & The Gang – a group who inspired so many others in the early 80s soul generation, but who could still do it better than most of the rest! The style here is tight and smooth, but never too slick – and Deodato's giving the group some really great production for the album – helping them to focus their energy and soar soulfully, but without resorting to any stiff gimmicks or cliches! There's a great groove running through most of the numbers here – a confident quality that's never too commercial, and which bubbles along nicely throughout. Titles include "Street Kids", "Big
Fun", "As One", "Hi De Hi Hi De Ho", "Let's Go Dancin", and "Pretty Baby". In The Heart is a sweet set that's part of a big
early 80s run from Kool & The Gang – a time that saw the funk legends really hitting the mainstream, and winning over a huge new audience in the process! Given that the Gang virtually invented ensemble funk at the start of the 70s, they're perfectly poised here to move into modes that so many of their younger competition were trying – but never did so well – that blend of 80s elements and more sharply-fused funk instrumentation, all honed down into a tightly snapping groove. The real surprise, though, is the group's growing ability for ballads – which put records like this into hands of folks who never would have dug their funk a few years before. And while we might have had a few problems with that shift at the time, the passage of years has got the whole thing sounding pretty darn great to our ears – especially in comparison to so much weaker work from the time. Titles include "In The Heart", "Joanna", "Tonight", "Straight Ahead", "September Love", "You Can Do It", and "Home Is Where The Heart Is". Last up is Emergency – one of the key classics from the second chapter of the group – when their lineup and sound were a lot leaner than before, and they managed to cross over big
to a much wider audience than before! The upbeat
cuts show that the group were still kings of the funky dancefloor – and the mellower ones are equally great too – showing a rising ballad style that proved to be the group's big
crossover card at the time – a way of putting over a laidback track, but with plenty of soul. This approach is heard to great effect on the album's great single "Cherish" – and other tracks include "Bad Woman", "Surrender", "Emergency", "Misled", "Fresh", and "You Are The One".