Emergency was Kool & The Gang’s last really big album, thereby ending an astonishing winning streak that had begun ten years earlier, with 1974’s Wild and Peaceful. You can track the evolution of funk music by the albums in Kool & The Gang’s catalog, and Emergency finds them moving forward once again and embracing the new technology of the mid-'80s. The title song is sassy and brassy, incorporating the mechanical hard rock riffs popularized by then-current rap groups like Run DMC. Even better is the snappy electro funk of “Misled” and “Surrender,” which sit easily alongside contemporaneous hits by Prince. Meanwhile, the new wave-ish “You Are the One” proffers a swifter strain of electro-boogie that could well be termed “aerobic funk.” The album’s biggest hit, however, was “Cherish” an ethereal Adult Contemporary ballad — the kind of song that will live as long as radio dedication shows keep running. The single symbolizes Kool & The Gang’s complete evolution — they started their career as a jazzy funk ensemble, and ended it as purveyors of grown-up urban pop.

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