Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"Special Way" by Kool & the Gang

Song#:  3300
Date:  10/17/1987
Debut:  88
Peak:  72
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  While the band's seventeenth album, Forever, was able to generate two Pop and R&B Top 10 hits, it didn't sell as well as their previous multi-platinum Emergency. Forever topped out at #25 on the Pop chart (#9 R&B) and only managed to go gold. This third single from the album didn't do much to help sales. While it did become a Top 10 at AC (#6), the tune failed to catch fire at Pop and wasn't even able to get on the R&B chart. The track would be the band's last to reach the Pop chart. Apparently the band's formula for success was getting stale and it seems that lead singer James "J.T." Taylor knew that and took the opportunity to leave for a solo career after things for Forever wrapped up. As sort of a conclusion to the era of the band, the compilation Everything's Kool & the Gang: Greatest Hits & More was released in 1988. It included the new track "Rags to Riches," which could only manage to reach #38 at R&B. After more personnel changes, the band would return with 1989's Sweat. Drubbed by critics, the album sold poorly and it would be the band's last album to make the R&B chart until 2007.

ReduxReview:  This single pretty much served as the swan song for Kool & the Gang's most popular and productive era. By this point I wasn't paying attention to the band. Their tracks had become formulaic and the group just sounded tired. This tune didn't change my mind, but it was a bit better than some of their previous singles. It did have a bit of a flaw though in that the track became unfocused and meandering in its second half. It was as if they wrote a good 2-minute, 30-second song, but then tried in vain to stretch it another three minutes. I'm kind of baffled as to why. The heart of the song was just fine. Still, it wasn't too bad of a song to go out on.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After leaving Kool & the Gang, James "J.T." Taylor quickly got to work on a solo career. One of his first efforts was "All I Want Is Forever," a duet with Regina Bell. The song, written by Diane Warren, was selected for use in the Gregory Hines drama film Tap. Released as a single, the tune would get to #2 at R&B and #34 AC. It failed to make the Pop chart. The track would be included on Taylor's debut solo album, Master of the Game. It would be Taylor's only effort outside of Kool & the Gang to reach the R&B Top 10. Two other singles would be released from the album, but both stayed in the lower half of the chart. His next album, 1991's Feel the Need, wouldn't make the charts, but it did contain the #13 R&B "Long Hot Summer Night." A third album in 1993 failed to do much and that ended Taylor's initial foray into solo work. He would then return to Kool & the Gang in 1995 and stay until 1999.



  1. You're right, the album version of this song is not very good. I think they realized that, so the single was remixed. That was much, much better. That remixed version was my favorite ballad by the band.