Kool & the Gang - Perfect Union

by Kevin Wierzbicki

It's always a thrill when a band you think maybe you've heard the last of comes out of the blue to release a new album. Such is the case with Perfect Union, the first set of new material that Kool & the Gang has released in more than a decade. Known for their big hit "Celebration," the Jersey funk band here is still fronted by Robert "Kool" Bell and his brother Ronald Bell, although Ronald passed away shortly after the record was finished. It is one of Ronald's tunes that opens the album, the bouncy pop/R&B "Pursuit of Happiness" which references the Constitution and has hopeful lyrics about the nation and world coming around to peace and harmony. And while that song has a serious message, "The Weekend" is a funky party song anticipating payday and a good time, "Leave it on the Dance Floor" moves the fun to the nightclub with a nod to the disco era and "High" celebrates the buzz of a love affair; fans will likely hear "High" as Santana-esque thanks to its Latin rhythm and the sweet and slick guitar parts from Mark Bowers. Lead singer Walt Anderson pushes his vocals to near falsetto on the horn-enhanced dance number "Sexy;" on "R.O.Y.A.L.T.Y. (Kool & the Gang Mix)," a cut that reminds of something that George Clinton would come up with, Anderson handles all the vocals both lead and background. The album comes full circle with a rap version of "Pursuit of Happiness" to close out the effort, placed there perhaps to remind the listener that after the partying is over there's still work to do.

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