Holiday discs 2013: Kool & the Gang's Kool for the Holidays

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Kool & the Gang
Kool for the Holidays

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Way back in the pre-disco days, at least judging by old Soul Train videos of “Jungle Boogie” and “Funky Stuff”, Kool & the Gang was a pretty fierce funk squad, with grooves for days. In 2013, the band led by Robert “Kool” Bell relies on the kind of synthetic backing tracks that used to be called “elevator music” when elevators still had music piped into them. Some tracks are more “live” than others, mind you. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” features an actual drummer! (Someone named Tim Horton, who was presumably paid in doughnuts and coffee.) Others have exactly one name in the credits, like the odious original “Christmas Always”, which is the work of singer-programmer Odeen Mays, who isn’t even a member of Kool & the Gang. They should have called this Coal for the Holidays, because if Santa ever hears this abomination, that’s what will be in the stockings of everyone involved come Christmas morning.

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