Kool and the Gang ‘Everybody’s dancin’ (BBR) 4/5

kool-andthe-gangAfter the relative failure of ‘The Force’ with its jaded and somewhat dated repertoire, a new approach was required and this came a year later in 1978 in the form of the more dance-oriented ‘Everybody’s dancin’, the title of which says it all. In fact the group were listening closely to the sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire and the strings of both Philly soul and Chic and it is clear from listening to this album with the benefit of hindsight that Kool and Gang were well on their way to creating a new sound and one that would catapult them to stardom a year later with the monster hit ‘Ladies Night’. It is something of a mystery why ‘I like music’ was not a major hit at the time so catchy and infectious are the rhythms. For a left-field groove look no further than ‘It’s all you need’ which certainly takes a leaf out of the Earth, Wind and Fire vocal harmonies without ever sounding derivative and the unison brass have echoes of Kool’s jazzy past. Underground disco devotes might want to check out ‘At the party’ while the percussive intro of ‘You deserve a break today’ goes straight into another dancefloor ditty of distinction. The funk was not totally forsaken, however, and ‘Dancin’ shoes’ features a heavy bass line. What does make this album so much more appealing is the variety on offer with a quality soulful ballad in ‘Stay awhile’ with a male-female duet. Everything was set in place for major chart success. The production duties of Eumir Deodato and the new lead vocals of J.R. Taylor would take care of that. Tim Stenhouse