The story of Kool & the Gang, which formed in Jersey City in the late ’60s, took an abrupt turn in 1979, when J.T. Taylor started handling lead vocals and the band started churning out pop hits. But its earlier incarnation — jazzier and funkier — peaked in 1974 with the Top 10 hit, “Jungle Boogie” (from the band’s 1973 Wild and Peaceful album), which found a irresistible middle ground between the raw power of James Brown and the steadiness and universal accessibility of disco.
The song was recorded quickly, and didn’t turn out exactly the way the band conceived it.
“After we recorded (it), we felt we had something, but we didn’t know what it was missing,” saxophonist Khalis Bayyan told Rolling Stone. “Our roadie, Don Boyce, said that he had had something for the track with us hollering like Tarzan on the end. We brought him in the studio, he sang vocals and that’s what came out. …
“We made the song up in the rehearsal, went in and recorded it that night. ‘Jungle Boogie’ is one take. There’s no more to that. Three minutes and, ‘Okay, enough of that.’ ”
Below is a clip of the band performing the song on “Soul Train.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.