Kool & the Gang - People Just Wanna Have Fun album cover

Kool & the Gang – People Just Wanna Have Fun (Album Review)

Kool & the Gang 2023 band

Out of New Jersey, Kool & The Gang are one of the most successful R&B bands of all-time. Winners of numerous awards, attaining countless hits, and transcending several decades, their story runs far and deep. Combining R&B, Funk, Soul, Jazz, and Rock all together, the nearly six decade old band had success in the early ‘70s, but attained even more leading into the ‘80s era with tracks like 79’s  “Ladies’ Night” and “Too Hot,” leading into ‘80s “Celebration,” 81’s “Get Down On It,” 83’s “Joanna,” 84’s “Fresh,” as well as 85’s “Cherish.” All showing different sides of the band’s sound, in 2023, they continue to expand upon their legacy.

For those looking for a quick recap of the last 20 years of Kool & The Gang, in that time they have put out a bunch of new music. Starting in 2001 with the re-imagined album Gangland, this was follow with the re-recorded 2004 album The Hits: Reloaded, followed by the very modern R&B 2007 album Still Kool, 2013’s holiday album Kool for the Holidays, before they returned in 2021 with Perfect Union. Looking at more recent times, Perfect Union was a very positive record, possessing a sense of hope that everyone has been yearning for. Now in 2023 Kool & the Gang march on with their latest album People Just Wanna Have Fun.

Released July 14th through Astana Music Inc (distributed by BFD/The Orchard), and more recently available as a Deluxe Vinyl + CD, People Just Wanna Have Fun is an important collection for the band. For one, it is the last studio work to include founding horn players, Robert ‘Kool’ Bell’s brother Ronald “Khalis” Bell and Dennis “D.T.” Thomas; who sadly passed in 2020 and 2021. Second, it marks their unprecedented 34th studio album! With that, Robert ‘Kool’ Bell (bassist) and George “Funky” Brown (keyboardist, drummer, plus producer of this album) lead the band into the future. Joining them for this time around are a list of vocalists; including Sha Sha Jones, Shawn McQuiller, Lavell Evans, Dominique Karan, Rick Marcel, Walt Anderson, plus rappers Ami Miller and Ole. A lot of different talents on one record, what People Just Wanna Have Fun offers might surprise some long-time fans.

A lengthy album, consisting of 15 songs that last nearly an hour, fans received their first taste of the new music last October with the release of the single “Let’s Party.” A track that is very sleek and modern, it is danceable and possesses many of the band’s signature sounds. From here they followed with the equally as catchy “We Are The Party” this past June, leading up to the full album release. Which leaves a mass of other music to dig into with the remainder of the album. That said, the album has very modern vibes in the sense of the production and structure of the tracks. Something that might come as a surprise to some, there is also a strong Hip Hop influence amidst some of the tracks.

So, with everything considered, it is not to say People Just Wanna Have Fun does not sound or feel like Kool & the Gang, because it does… it is just different. There are still the irresistible basslines, colorful instrumentation, and well-crafted songs. If anything, you can say a lot of the sound is comfortable within a modern disco genre. Quite interesting, standouts would have to include “Movie Star,” the very smooth R&B cut “VIP,” delightfully positive “Na Na Na,” retro Funk “Give Love,” and very relaxing “Obsession.” However, those looking for some really cool instrumental offerings, “99 Miles To JC” is also a must listen.

All in all, this effort from Kool & the Gang is top-notch. It is lively, beaming of positivity, and reflects the idea that people need an outlet away from all the chaos surrounding them. Great to see Kool & the Gang are still going strong, and hoping they finally find their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cryptic Rock gives People Just Wanna Have Fun 4 out of 5 stars. 

Kool & the Gang - People Just Wanna Have Fun album artwork
Kool & the Gang – People Just Wanna Have Fun / Astana Music Inc (2023) 

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.

No comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *