Kool and the Gang ‘The Force’ (BBR) 3/5

kool-and-the-gangBy 1977 Kool and Gang had been dipping into the funk bag for several years. Unfortunately for them, though, black music had moved on and they were left behind with an album that was lacking in new creativity and the collective chanting rapidly becomes monotonous. What is truly disappointing is that there were virtually no instrumental solos. The tired funk of ‘Mighty, Mighty High’ speaks volumes for the rest of the album and this is one 12″ extended version that is not indispensable to your disco collection while ‘Slick Superchick’ deals in clichés as does ‘A place in space’ which has absolutely nothing in common with the likes of Sun Ra. On the positive side, there are subtler hints at a new, more soulful side to the band on ‘Just be true’ with jazz flute. A pity, then, that the vocals are weak. The only all too brief at their former glory comes at the very end of the album with the two minute instrumental electric piano and saxophone rendition of ‘Free’. If only this could have been elongated and the rest transformed into a jazzier groove. It is as though Kool and the Gang were pining for their former sound. A new musical identity was, however, just around the corner. Tim Stenhouse