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Gap Band goodness

I've seen many AMF posters indicate that they quite enjoy funk music in games such as Bracketology and the like. However, I don't think I've seen anyone so much as mention the urban cowboys from Tulsa. Sure, it's a different brand of funk from James Brown, Sly and Stevie, but it's no less potent!

Growing up near Detroit, synth funk was my musical Genesis. Something about the cultural mix made us do the Hustle to Stevie Wonder's "My Eyes Don't Cry" and make Prince call Detroit his second home. As such, funk formed an integral part of my roots. To this day, there's nothing that sounds as visceral to me as a great funk track, and nothing feels as innately "me" as a great synth bass line.

It seems that rock music journalism has shifted its focus in large part to music that appeals to the brain, which has its benefits and its drawbacks. Take The Gap Band, for instance. They rank at a paltry 1581 on the artists list based on the placement of one song. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find any of the hip hop successors who rank more highly who wasn't greatly influenced by these funk giants. The Gappers exploded onto radio in the late 70s and early 80s with songs that were bombastic, testosterone-laden, and synthesized with simultaneously scorching and downright icy grooves. On top of that, Bootsy Collins' cousin Charlie Wilson breathed fire into the microphone with his roaring voice and slapdash panache.

It all started with "Shake", a bouncy if somewhat conventional jaunt, but WGAP soon found its first smash with the everpresent "Oops Upside Your Head", which launched the GAP brand into the statosphere with its toe-curling groove and festive percussion. It became an enormous hit in the UK, and manages to bubble under the AM list.

However, the full ferocity of their funk was yet to come. The aptly named "Burn Rubber on Me" showcases Wilson's trademark growl atop a furious synth-bass, complete with the addictively rhythmic and equally audacious self-referencing lyrics: "I never ever had a lover put the pedal to the metal and burn rubber on me, Charlie". I defy you to not tap along to that immense groove. This paved the way for their biggest hits in the forms of the soul-clapping, cowbell-laced "Early in the Morning" and the monstrous "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", with its truly warped bass line, thunderous drum rolls and incendiary synths good enough for 1843 on the AM list. Frankly, if I was limited to one single 80-minute disc of music with which to live the rest of my life, this song would be on it. For some inexplicable reason, it can actually bring me to tears, and I can only attribute it to some natural, primitive appeal in the music that just permeates my entire body.

However, the Gappers weren't only about fireworks. The sultry "Outstanding" is no less groove-worthy, but with a more subtle and soulful delivery, it showcases a softer but no less passionate side. Slower numbers like "Yearning for Your Love" and "Season's No Reason to Change" became radio staples because they're damn good ballads.

True R&B stars in the 80s, their memory is intact in the numerous samples to their credit, proving that their grooves were good enough to span multiple generations.

The focus of this forum has seemed to shift quite a bit toward heavyweight artists (perhaps due to the great forum polls and such), but I thought I'd shed light on a represented yet little-known artist in the depths of our hallowed lists. I hope this doesn't get lost in the ether. If you have any appetite for funk, this music might be right up your alley.