Two-CD, 33-track comp of pioneering street funk with emphasis on early years

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Kool & The Gang – Gangthology

This compilation is for connoisseurs. The Gang are best known in Britain for their amiable post-disco ’80s hits topped by James “JT” Taylor’s vocals. The best of these (“Get Down On It”, wedding/barmitzvah staple “Celebration”) appear here; the worst (“Joanna”, “Cherish”) thankfully don’t. The two discs have been themed separately: CD 1 (“Wild”), focusing on their ’70s funk heyday, is uncompromising; check the overlapping voices on “Hollywood Swinging” or the freeform sax throughout. On CD 2 (“Peaceful”) we get blissful, meditative soundscapes such as the much-sampled “Summer Madness”. On tracks like “Wild And Peaceful”, the ethereality places them closer to the Cocteau Twins than James Brown.