THE GAP BAND
Total Experience Records (TED 702)
Vinyl, 12″, 33 1/3 RPM
A You Dropped A Bomb On Me (Special Disco Mix – Long Version) (13:05)
Remix – Michael Evans
B Humpin’ (5:06)
Produced For – Lonnie Simmons Productions
Published By – Total Experience Music, Inc.
Mastered by Kendun Recorders / Allen Zentz Mastering, Los Angeles
Welcome to the new home of Flabbergasted Vibes!
For a long time now, I’ve considered ditching the clumsy Blogger platform and moving to WordPress, but the thought of trying to migrate so many years of content was very daunting. I finally took the plunge due to some inspiration from a blogging friend (more about him in another post, soon to come) and have been working on this in secret for the last month. There are still a few wrinkles to be ironed out, but it’s coming along pretty well.
So, hoping that you are blown away with this news, and because I’m a corny dude, I figured the first post for the new site should be an extended mix of the monster electro-funk jam You Dropped A Bomb On Me. Armed with an octave-splitting synth riff, a slamming drum beat, a couple of organ chords laying low like an ambush in the mix, some thunderous tympani rolls, and some toy laser guns they bought at Toys R Us, The Gap Band threatened to launch the funkiest World War III with this single. Many rose to the dance-off challenge thrown down by a presiding DJ in 1982 over this one. And here we have 13 glorious minutes of it, nearly 8 minutes longer than the album cut from The Gap Band IV.
Unfortunately, my copy has a tiny wobbly-warp at the tippy-top edge of the record that makes the first few seconds nearly impossible to track properly. Luckily there is no music there: it’s an intro of somebody with a Vocoder saying something about dropping a bomb on you, followed by some laughter from the band, and then an air raid siren. Through the miracle of modern technology, I was able to get most of this through wizardry. Changing the weight on my turntable tonearm so that it could mostly track this intro (there is still a tiny glitch during the Vocoder speech) unfortunately makes the needle skip once the music starts, so I got creative and did two passes on this with adjusted counter weights, and then spliced them together. Oh the things I will do for you, my beloved readers! I bet you can’t even hear the “tape splice.” If you think you can, be the first to leave the exact time code in the comments section and, if correct, you will win a prize of one $20 gift certificate to Toys ‘R Us. Unfortunately the gift certificate expired in 1982, but it’s a collectors item so that should make you happy.
Which leads to the curious bit of trivia about this single. When the Mattel toy corporation got wind that The Gap Band had bought an array of toy laser guns and rocket ships to take back to the studio and create the overdubbed “battle” sound effects that you hear in the second half of this extended mix, their marketing people hatched what seemed at the time like a mutually beneficial promotional campaign. After talks with Lonnie Simmon’s Total Experience Productions, they decided to make the experience more total by shipping the first few thousand copies of the extended single with a $20 gift certificate to America’s biggest toy retailer, Toys R Us. Mattel then released some Gap Band ray guns, boldly proclaiming “As heard on the hit song You Dropped A Bomb On Me in bright letters on the packaging, and even created a series of camouflaged action figures of the Wilson brothers, modeled on the outfits they wore in the music video.
The whole campaign ended up losing money, as most fans came into the store hoping to buy a genuine air raid siren, sales of which were of course tightly restricted during the Cold War. Disappointed, most ended up buying the electronic Simon Says game, made by Milton Bradley. Mattel’s Gap Band Action Figures are thus extremely rare and super collectible today, almost never appearing on eBay or in private auctions. Reportedly, Henry Kissinger has a full set on a bookshelf in his office. I would never have thought the repulsive little man had a funky bone in his body, but when a TV reporter asked him in 1983 what kind of music he put on to relax, he answered, “The Gap Band, that’s my jam.” It is safe to assume that this is the song that made him a lifelong fan.
In case any of you audio geeks wanted to know what one of these analog synth bomb drops look like visually, here’s a spectragram
On the flip side is another hit, Humpin’, which is from their previous album, Gap Band III — which, to confuse things, is not actually their third album (any more than IV is their fourth album), but merely their third album since teaming up with producer Lonnie Simmons and signing to Mercury/Polygram. They had also released albums on the Shelter Label and the RCA subsidiary Tattoo Records before they started numbering their releases. Does that imply that we should consider the first two albums as non-canonical? Prequels? Lore?
In any case, Humpin’ is more than a little inspired by the P-Funk empire and is as infectiously fun as ‘Bomb’. There’s no verse/chorus structure, it’s essentially all one extended chorus vamp, with delirious giggling and silly rhymes from Charlie Wilson throughout. Chair dancing is permitted, but real dancing is encouraged. Also I swear it sounds like Jimmy Castor doing the “heave.. ho” chant in the middle. It should be noted that in spite of the label stating this to be a “long version,” this appears to be the same mix as the one used for the album release.
Thankfully, unlike Toys R Us gift certificates, great music has no expiration date.* And, hey, neither do these links!
*No money was received from America’s biggest toy retailer, Toys R Us, for the writing of this post. If there had been, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken such a cheap shot at their lousy gift certificate policies.