Phantom Sway

‘Summer Madness’: Pure Outer Space Jam by Kool & the Gang

Forget party tunes, these cats had chops.

Light of Worlds
Kool & The Gang – Light of Worlds (1974)

Long before those days of “celebrating” good times, Kool & The Gang were a deeply sophisticated R&B / Funk band that delved heavily into the jazz/progressive side of things. Like their contemporaries Earth, Wind & Fire and Ohio Players, the guys could flat out play. Forget party tunes and those angelic vocal interplays, these cats had chops. Blame acts like Return To Forever or Chic for these forays into the deeper groove, maybe it was a kindred spirit telekinesis channeling with Pink Floyd or Curved Air, who knows but whatever helped produce Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” from 1974’s Light Of Worlds album, but it must have been cooked in to the finest of hasheries.

A very spacey interlude with no real groove to hang onto other than several different breaks for MOOG synths to break into their interstellar séances. A floating bass line and simple drum track laid down a solid foundation for the keys and the wires to go for a walk among the stars.

First time I heard this piece I thought it was The Alan Parsons Project, not the soul vibe of K&TG, one of those deep cut time capsules that the likes of DJ Shadow has mined for many of his remixes. Any R&B, hip-hop or Dee-Jay cat worth his grain had best know this track backwards and forwards, I can guarantee you that Questlove does. For all the solemn sexy that this track brings it helped a then “newbie” like me discover Lenny White, Weather Report and the godfather Billy Cobham; pure outer space jams done by some full-blown soul searchers; stoned providers.

Long version, doubly stoned.

Justin Press

A metalhead Virginia kid with a Texas spirit, an NYC restlessness and a Utah mountainside soul. Born of an English mother and a German father, an introverted extrovert, the shadow and the illumination: English prose with German fire. I’ve huddled with the poor and downtrodden in Berlin, bathed in the Dead Sea, dined at Buckingham Palace, and broken bread in Tunisia.

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Harriet Tubman is one of America’s most beloved historical figures but has sadly been largely relegated to just a few facts during Black History Month. This incredible ex-slave, spy, cook, nurse, public speaker and rescuer deserves a story worthy of her stature.

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