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Click below for a Gap Band sample:

Burn Rubber

 
Of all the groups to adopt a Parliafunkadelicment-styled identity in the midst of the Funk Mob's dominance, none was as effective, or controversial, as the Gap Band.  The trio of brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma -- Charlie, Robert and Ronnie -- tore up the charts with some of the hardest funk of the 80s, but the influence of the P was as clear as crystal glass.

For example, the breakthrough hit "Oops Upside Your Head" steals an entire section from the Brides of Funkenstein's "Disco to Go" at a key interval of the song.  The throbbing, clap-happy backing tracks were Parliament run through a sonic strainer, delivering a comparable level of funk power without the overload George Clinton would inject into the mix.  And finally, there were Charlie's wholsale borrowing of Clinton's bag of tricks: declaring the state of WGAP, twisted pop culture references, running commentary throughout the song.  If you want to accuse them of being P-Funk devotees, consider them guilty as charged.

But harp on that and you lose sight of their versatility.   "Going In Circles," "Season's No Reason to Change" and "Yearning For Your Love" are quiet storm classics, and "Outstanding" is a brilliant slice of smoothness.  Factor in their principled commitment to funk (refusing to go electro when everyone else was running for the drum machine) and Charlie's rep as one of the most influential r&b singers of the last 20 years and you've got to recognize them as one of the last great soul bands.

Named after the center of the black business district in Tulsa (Greenwood, Archer and Pine), the Wilson brothers had taken to music at an early age, performing everything from country to top 40, including stints with Leon Russell and two unknown albums on Tattoo Records in the mid 70s.  Moving to Los Angeles, they met up with Lonnie Simmons, the man with the master plan.  An entrepreneur, Simmons saw the potential of the band and made them the cornerstone of his Total Experience enterprise.

After arranging a deal with Mercury, Simmons and the Gap Band went on a mission for the hits.  The 1977 Gap Band LP got them noticed with "Open Up Your Mind," but that was just a taste of what was to come.

The 1979-82 period was their peak, delivering 3 LPs that took them to superstardom.  Gap II contined "Oops" and "Shake."   Gap III was home to "Burn Rubber" and "Yearning For Your Love."  This creative outburst was capped by the insanely tight Gap IV, with the massive hits "Early In the Morning, " "Outstanding" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me."  They also had an equal number of killer album cuts: "Who Do You Call," "Are You Living," "Talking Back."

The momentum began to slow after Gap IV, but "Party Train," "All of My Love" and "Beep A Freak" kept them in the mix, as did apperances on the Penintentiary and I'm Gonna Get You Sucka soundtracks.

Gap Band's Deepest Grooves

Gap Band (Tattoo, 1977)

Gap Band (Mercury, 1978)

Gap Band II (Mercury, 1979)

Gap Band III (Mercury, 1980)

Gap Band IV (Total Experience, 1982)

Gap Band V (Total Experience, 1983)

Gap Band VI (Total Experience, 1985)

Gap Band VII (Total Experience, 1986)

Straight From the Heart (Capitol, 1988)

Live and Well (Intersound, 1996)

Funkin Til 2000 Comes (Crash, 1999)

Ultimate Collection (Hip-O, 2001)
There are at least 5 Gap Band collections on the market.  This is simply the latest one. 

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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