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Live At P.J.'s

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Live at P.J.'s, the third Kool & the Gang record (and second live album in a row), betters the previous Live at the Sex Machine with a committed set balancing funky workouts ("Ronnie's Groove") with more exploratory soul-jazz ("Sombrero Sam"), and occasionally trying both on the same track ("N.T."). A night-after-night schedule of concerts all over the country had given Kool & the Gang the chops to become one of the best bands of the '70s, but it also enabled them to construct tight, interesting sets (this release would've undoubtedly sounded even better had the original compilers trusted the artists themselves and reissued the show in the correct running order). The opener is a version of "N.T." (short for no title), oddly slower than it was heard on record, though the relaxed tempo allowed plenty of room for solos and stretching out. At this point, Kool & the Gang had more in common with soul-jazz units like the Crusaders than a funk band, giving nearly every member a chance to shine, but especially Dennis Thomas on flute (he has some great vocalizing on "Sombrero Sam"), Khalis Bayyan on tenor and soprano sax, and Robert "Spike" Mickens on trumpet. The only misstep is a pair of covers originally heard on Isaac Hayes' ...To Be Continued, the first a regal version of "Ike's Mood" that suddenly descends into MOR soul via a misguided attempt at "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Mercury's CD reissue added a great bonus track, "The Penguin." ~ John Bush, Rovi