Tuesday, 13 October 2015

"The Gap Band/The Gap Band II/The Gap Band III" by THE GAP BAND (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Oops, Up Side Your Head..."

Three huge Soul/Funk albums from the trio of brothers Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson collectively known as THE GAP BAND – a churning-burning dancing machine from Tulsa in Oklahoma (of all places). These LPs peaked at 10, 3 and 1 on the American R&B album charts respectively back in the day and lay out in graphic gap-toothed family funkiness their dominance of the airwaves and dancefloors in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Three LPs onto 2CDs - and the Remasters sound brill too. Here are the Oops, Up Side Your Heads...

UK released August 2015 in the UK (September 2015 in the USA) – "The Gap Band/The Gap Band II/The Gap Band III" by THE GAP BAND on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1219 (Barcode 5017261212191) offers 3 LPs onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (61:21 minutes):
1. Shake
2. You Can Count On Me
3. Open Up Your Mind (Wide)
4. Messin' With My Mind
5. Baba Baba Boogie [Side 2]
6. I'm In Love
7. Got To Get Away
8. I Can Sing
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 3rd studio album "The Gap Band" – released April 1979 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-3758 and 1980 in Europe on Mercury 9111 052

9. Steppin' (Out)
10. No Hiding Place
11. I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops!)
Tracks 9 to 10 are Side 1 of their 4th studio album "The Gap Band II" – released December 1979 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-3804 and October 1980 in the UK on Mercury 9111 062

Disc 2 (65:19 minutes):
1. Who Do You Call
2. You Are My High
3. Party Lights
4. The Boys Are Back In Town
Tracks 1 to 4 are Side 2 of their 4th studio album "The Gap Band II" – released December 1979 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-3804 and October 1980 in the UK on Mercury 9111 062

5. When I Look In Your Eyes
6. Yearning For Your Love
7. Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)
8. Nothin’ Comes To Sleepers
9. Are You Living [Side 2]
10. Sweet Caroline
11. Humpin’
12. The Way
13. Gash Gash Gash
Tracks 5 to 13 are their 5th studio album "The Gap Band III" – released January 1981 in the USA on Mercury SRM-1-4003 and in the UK on Mercury 6377 110

There is a card slipcase that lends the whole release a classiness – a 16-page booklet with full album credits and new liner notes from Mojo's Jazz columnist CHARLES WARING and new 2015 ANDREW THOMPSON Remasters (done at Sound Mastering in London) that blast all that polished Soul and Funk out into your living room with renewed flairs. These CDs sound amazing – great presence and will almost certainly make you want to do a Soul Train on your living room floor as you chant "Oops, Up Side Your Head" like a loon.

After their first two studio albums failed to ignite ("Magician's Holiday" in 1974 on Shelter and "The Gap Band" in 1977 on MCA) – they signed to Mercury Records with material that was bound to cook (and it did). Their Mercury Label debut in 1979 opens with the irresistible stepper "Shake" – a five-minute Funky call to arms to 'shake your booty' down at the local club. The Gap Band released it on Mercury 74053 as a 7" single and it was an immediate winner giving them a No. 4 placing on the R&B charts in May 1979. Things slow into smooch-city with "You Can Count On Me" while "Open Up Your Mind (Wide)" gave them their 2nd hit in August 1979 on Mercury 74080 (peaked at 13). "Messin' With My Mind" could easily have been another winning single ala Rufus with Chaka Khan. "I'm In Love" is a pretty ballad (just about) but far better is the album's hidden nugget "Got To Get Away" where the boys want to be shown 'the way to the future'...their next album did just that...

"The Gap Band II" hit Top Ten paydirt with the crowd-shouters "Steppin' Out" and especially "I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)". With its repeated chant "Oops, Up Side Your Head" throughout (probably should have been the name of the song) – I can remember entire dancehalls descending into rowing lines on the floor as people sang along to the lines and the singer's giggles. The song was played everywhere - a phenomenon - and caught the party mood of the early 80ts. They tried one of the album's boppers "Party Lights" on Mercury 76037 in July 1980 but it stalled at No. 36. It wasn't "Gap Band III" finally took the top slot on the album charts in January 1981 that its lead off single “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” did the same. Other wicked steppers include “When I Look In Your Eyes” while the mid-tempo “Yearning For Your Love” ticked the punters in April 1981 so they gave it’s Isley Brothers guitar-Soul at No. 5 placing on the R&B charts. “Is that what it is!” the boys shout on the party-party finisher "Gash Gash Gash" while "Humpin’" tries it hardest and just about pulls it off.

It’s not all Soul-Funk genius for sure – but those great grooves and fun tunes still bring back memories - and this superb-sounding 2CD set is bound to tickle many pink and white and yellow and orange (and that’s just the shirts)...

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