Title: “In the Heart”
Artist: Kool & the Gang
Release date: 1983
Favorite track: “In the Heart”
Kool & the Gang’s “In the Heart” gives me a bit of déjà vu.
When I first saw the record, it instantly brought to mind Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1979 album, “In the Stone" — the subject of my second ever Off the Record column. They have similar titles and rainbow color schemes on the album art. It also didn’t slip past me that the Kool & the Gang album features the song “September Love,” a title similar to EWF’s 1978 hit, “September.”
The similarities don’t end there.
The music is of the same genre — it’s funky and lovey-dovey. But, to be fair, I think these similarities are mostly a result of themes common to the time period.
EWF’s music isn’t the only déjà vu. All these songs remind me of something.
I worship EWF, and I love Kool & the Gang. Welcome to my musical comfort zone.
“In the Heart” is a wonderful track.
I don’t often use the word “wonderful,” but the song is so lighthearted and joyous, I can’t help myself. I deeply enjoy the simple, optimistic message of this song.
When you say you love somebody
You got to let them know about it
— “In the Heart”
Before hearing this album, I was familiar only with Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies Night.” I purchased it because I assumed I liked all funk music (I do, by the way). I was so glad I bought it when I heard the title track.
“Joanna” is my second favorite because my name sounds so similar. It’s an easy switch-up to sing “Savannah” instead of “Joanna” in the romantic ballad. And, yes, I do that in every song possible. As a side note, songs with names in them are a guilty pleasure of mine.
Lead singer James "J.T." Taylor would make any lyrics sound sweet, but the ones on this album are already so pure. I’m not surprised “Joanna” was a commercial hit.
You’ve definitely already heard the single “Tonight” at some point in your life. It’s classic disco. “Rollin’” is the most musically driven track, as it has few lyrics outside the chorus.
“Place for Us” channels gospel music. The lovely song claims if love is in their hearts, there is a place for them when life ends. The piano accompaniment brings to mind church hymns.
Admittedly, “Home is Where the Heart Is” reminds me of 1980s Christmas songs, but I’m not mad about it. Hey, I like those songs.
“You Can Do It” channels Rose Royce’s 1976 hit, “Car Wash.” If you’re organizing music, they definitely go on the same playlist.
As a concluding note, EWF’s “September” and Kool & the Gang’s “September Love” don’t share the same message. If September is going swell, listen to EWF. If your walking on emotional eggshells, sit in your pool of tears with Kool & the Gang.
A pure white heart intersected with a rainbow. I can’t think of a more fitting graphic representation of this music.