Kool & The Gang: Robert "Kool" Bell (vocals, bass); Dennis Thomas (vocals, flute, alto saxophone, congas); Khalis Bayyan (vocals, alto flute, tenor saxophone, piano, Arp); Larry Gittens (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn); Otha Nash (vocals, trombone); George M. Brown (vocals, drums, percussion); Charles Smith (guitar); Spike Mickens (trumpet); Ricky West (piano).
Additional personnel: Amir Bayyan (guitar); Ibrahim Duarte (alto saxophone); Dennis White (tenor saxophone); Ray Wright (trombone).
Tomorrow's Edition & Something Sweet: Don Boyce, Royal Bayyan (background vocals).
Partially recorded live at the Rainbow Theatre, London, England. Originally released on De-Lite (2018). Includes liner notes by Cleveland Brown & Harry Weinger.
All tracks have been digitally remastered from the original master tapes using 20-bit technology.
Personnel: Robert "Kool" Bell (vocals).
Recording information: Media Sound, Copenhagen, Denmark; Rainbow Theatre, London, England.
Following on the heels of their 1975 smash Spirit of the Boogie, Kool & the Gang hit the road to tour the album and record new material. One tumultuous show, at London's Rainbow Theatre, became the core of Love & Understanding. Three live tracks, "Hollywood Swinging," "Summer Madness," and a dreamily mellow "Universal Sound," are all excellent reminders of just how good this band could sound when they found the vibe and had the funk firmly in hand. But as good as this stuff is, there are ominous glimmers among the goods, of musical moves the band were contemplating -- heard most markedly in the bland "Sugar" and "Do It Right Now." For, despite the sureness with which they were creating driving funk, they were also struggling with the oncoming disco explosion. That push-pull was duly reflected in the album. The studio tracks are the most uneven. At their best, they are dominated by the opening title track and its near-instrumental twin shadow "Come Together," which closes. Both songs are horn heavy, an insistent call for unity, love, and peace. The rest of the album is sandwiched between this jazzy cacophony but, despite the rocky moments, Love and Understanding remains a remarkable album, recorded at a time when the band was still reveling in the grip of pure funk, uncorrupted by the mainstream. ~ Amy Hanson