Personnel: Rick Iantosca (keyboards, percussion).
Photographer: Richard Aaron.
Arranger: Rick Iantosca.
Spanning the band's early-'70s genesis as an unhinged funk congregation and their later resurgence with urbane R&B balladry and synth-inflected disco, The Very Best of Kool & the Gang may not be a unified collection, but it is the first to offer every hit that's expected -- as well as a few that aren't -- from the band's long career. The emphasis is definitely on their peak as a pop group, from 1979 to 1986, with pride of place going to the hits "Celebration," "Get Down on It," "Ladies Night," "Too Hot," "Misled," and "Joanna." Fans of the funk get only three tracks ("Funky Stuff," "Hollywood Swinging," and "Jungle Boogie," all from 1973's Wild and Peaceful), which won't cause anyone to sell their copies of The Best of Kool & the Gang 1969-1976, but does give pop fans a glimpse of their mid-'70s greatness. All in all, this lengthy collection doesn't transition well from hit to hit, but then again, chronological order would've forced legions of pop fans to forward through the funk material to get to their favorites. ~ John Bush