Song of the Week – Funky Stuff, Kool & the Gang


Back in the early 70s I played high school football. The tunes that were played in the locker room covered the entire spectrum of music that appealed to the diverse socio economic groups that were attracted to pay football.

Some (white guys) guys were into the Stones and Allmans. Some liked Zeppelin and Bowie. There were prog rock fans into Yes and ELP. There were singer/songwriter fans into James Taylor and CSN&Y.

Then there were the African American guys that turned us onto Al Green, the Chi-lites, the Stylistics, the O’Jays and Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. I loved, and still love, all those groups. But one of my favorite albums that I first heard in the locker room was Wild and Peaceful by Kool & the Gang. Today’s SotW is that disc’s “Funky Stuff.”

Now if your only familiarity with Kool & the Gang is from the wedding reception standard “Celebration” (1980) you may decide to stop reading right here and check in again next week. That would be a mistake.

Wild and Peaceful is a great album that contained three bona fide classics – “Jungle Boogie” (#4), “Hollywood Swinging” (#6) and “Funky Stuff” (#29). “Jungle Boogie” was revived in 1990 when master soundtrack programmer Quentin Tarantino used it to great effect in Pulp Fiction. (It starts after the credits and plays through the car radio as John Travolta and Samuel Jackson have the famous McDonald’s/Burger King discussion.)

Beside the hits are other great songs like the spoken word “Heaven At Once” and the 10 minute funk workout title song closer.

But back to “Funky Stuff”… It is the perfect album opener. It immediately grabs you with a whistle call to attention and its blaring, James Brown inspired horn section intro and doesn’t let up when the party starts. It adds a chugging, funky bass line, R&B guitar lick and more disco era whistles.

This is the real deal.

Enjoy… until next week.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Funky Stuff, Kool & the Gang

  1. It’s almost impossible to get across how different this music was in its day, because it was like “OK people, here’s what you’ll be doing from now on. ” Tom mentions James Brown as the reference point and that’s valid, but it’s a tangent off what JB was doing. And surely it’s miles away from the soul ballads that were big at the time and never did much for me. This song reminds me of another revolutionary one-shot, from the same summer as I recall, hugely popular in the soul community and a hit on pop radio, but not so influential. Or maybe it was, but in a world I did not inhabit. Rocknroll? Hell yeah – “It’s got a good beat, you can dance to it, I dug it, I give it a 90.”

  2. My only Kool & The Gang contribution is that “Jungle Boogie” guitar that plays a single note to a funky beat through the entire song mesmerizes me every time. It’s to the point where I can hardly hear anything else.

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