Kool & The Gang – Celebration

1st January 2024 · 1980, 1980s, Disco, Funk, Music

Three hundred million YouTube viewers can’t be wrong – when it’s time to celebrate, this is the song. And what better time to celebrate than the turning of a new year.

Kool & the Gang took their time to find success it was 15 years before they had their first UK hit with Ladies Night in 1979. This came from their 12th album a year later.

I wonder how many people dancing to it at weddings know that the initial idea came from the Quran. Ronald Bell, the group’s sax player and arranger, I was reading a passage where the angels began celebrating God’s creation of Adam, and singing his praises.

“That inspired me to write the basic chords, the line, ‘Everyone around the world, come on, celebration’,” recalled Ronald (not to be confused with his brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, with whom he formed the band in Jersey City in 1964).

Like all great funk tunes it’s got a great bassline but beyond that it’s basically just one big chorus. And that’s just fine; more than fine.

I never knew til now that it’s produced by the great Brazilian musician Eumir Deodato, who had a big hit with Also Sprach Zarathustra in 1973 – a jazz-funk take on Strauss – the year Kool made Jungle Boogie (which got a new life on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack).

It was only when he teamed up with the band that they began to find success after so long in the doldrums. Incredibly, they are still going strong, with Robert at the helm following Ronald’s death in 2020, and released their 25th album in 2021.