Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Gap Band

  • Gap Band IV [Total Experience, 1982] B+
  • Gap Band V: Jammin' [Total Experience, 1983] B+
  • Gap Gold: Best of the Gap Band [Total Experience, 1984] B+
  • The 12" Collection [Mercury, 1986] A
  • The Best of Gap Band: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection [Mercury, 2001] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Gap Band IV [Total Experience, 1982]
Although women may disagree, I don't think the cartoon sincerity of Bootsy and the Ohio Players will ever evolve into romantic credibility. So while I'm not saying these total entertainers sound like Huey, Louie & Dewey on the slow ones, I insist that they don't sound like the Temptations either--vocally, they're mere professionals singing merely professional love songs. Which isn't to deny that the funk tunes burn rubber and the funktoons drop the bomb. B+

Gap Band V: Jammin' [Total Experience, 1983]
Like Cameo and Rick James before them, these old pros blew their sure shots on the breakthrough--this drops no bombs. But once again the follow-up album compensates for never getting up by never letting up--the uptempo stuff steadfastly maintains their hand-stamped party groove, and like Cameo (forget Rick James), they've figured out what to do with the slow ones. That Stevie Wonder move is a no-fail--just ask George Benson, or Eddie Murphy. B+

Gap Gold: Best of the Gap Band [Total Experience, 1984]
What a waste. If ever a band cried out for that corny old fast side/slow side split, it's the creators of "Burn Rubber," "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Early in the Morning," and, God spare you, "Season's No Reason To Change." Taken in a single rush, the uptempo classics (augmented by a few expert imitations, including "Party Trains"'s imitation Gap Band) would stand as twenty-five minutes of rock and roll so spectacular you'd never think to turn the damn thing over. B+

The 12" Collection [Mercury, 1986]
Tsk-tsk--"Party Train," which leads off side two, repeats the formula of "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" and "Burn Rubber" and for that matter "Early in the Morning," which begin-middle-and-end side one. I mean--wotta formula: stratoliner funk that leaves their more than passable P-Funk rip in the dust. In fact, Party Train is what they should have called the only Gap Band anybody need own. And anybody includes you. A

The Best of Gap Band: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection [Mercury, 2001]
Bootsy's cousins and Leon Russell's proteges, the three brothers Wilson were as bland as the two Brothers Johnson until an accidental 1980 P-Funk rip we'll call "Oops Upside Your Head" transformed them into a great funk band for a handful of silly singles. No champs at hands-on bass and drums, they power-tooled a futuristic electrofunk out of keyboards, sound effects, and overdubbed trackmastery--think "Burn Rubber," "You Dropped a Bomb on Me"--well before Bowie's "Let's Dance" or Clinton's "Last Dance." I miss "Beep a Freak," which used a beeper as a rhythm instrument (eep!), and the payday throwaway they wrote for Keenan Ivory Wayans one night. But mainly I wish they'd escaped the African American superstition that ballads are old-age insurance. Two too many show up here--which is seven or eight fewer than on the new Ultimate Collection, which to squeeze them in eviscerates the classics down to radio length. A-