Believe it or not, Gold is the first compilation with U.S. distribution to provide a fair and rather thorough glance at Kool & the Gang's career from 1969 through 1987. Dozens upon dozens of other sets either focus on one of the group's distinct eras or attempt clumsily to appease those who want "Jungle Boogie" and "Joanna" in one spot. The Chronicles catalog division of Mercury realized that roughly 90 percent of Kool & the Gang's chart hits can fit neatly on two discs, so this is an ideal package for casual fans who can appreciate raw '70s funk and slick, radio-friendly '80s R&B. It would be impossible to plot a thorough introductory course across two discs, since the group's catalog runs too deep. There wasn't enough room for the likes of "Steppin' Out," "Jones vs. Jones," "Slick Superchick," or "Take It to the Top," all of which were popular on black radio stations, and the compilers' decision to focus on the biggest singles means that a lot of subdued album cuts -- such as "Breeze and Soul" and "Winter Sadness" -- aren't factored in. A lot of care went into the presentation, with plenty of photos, thorough chart-placement information, and insightful liner notes from group associate Cleveland Brown. No Kool & the Gang compilation can be flawless, but this is one of the best ones out there.