Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Gap Band - V: Jammin'

This week marks the release of V: Jammin’, the seventh studio album from the Gap Band (Charlie, Ronnie and Robert Wilson). This Gold selling album charted at number 28 on the US Billboard 200 Album chart and number 2 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with the minute and a half instrumental “Introduction - Where Are We Going?”. It sets a nice funky mood for the rest of the album.

“Shake A Leg” keeps things going with an up-tempo dance track that makes the listener want to do exactly as the title suggests. The electric drums are working over time on this one.

As a single, “I’m Ready (If You’re Ready)” peaked at number 87 in the UK and number 74 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This mid-tempo tune is one that allows you to catch your breath on the dance floor while still keeping your feet moving.

Next up is the romantic ballad “You’re My Everything”. I can easily seeing this one being picked as a ‘first dance” at weddings in the mid-80’s as it encapsulates everything about a life-long commitment.

The high-energy “Jammin’ In America” charted at number 64 in the UK. It infuses a reggae vibe with a new-wave funk groove with contagious results. You will have the chorus stuck in your head after just one listen.

“Smile” closes on the side with a sweet song of encouragement. The lyrics promise a silver lining to those gray clouds that inevitably turn up.

Side two rolls out with “Party Train”, which went to number 101 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 3 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I love how the opening sounds move from one speaker channel to another before picking up steam with that signature Gap Band dance sound.

“Jam the Motha’”, another bass-heavy, beat-pumping party groove, went to number 16 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“I Expect More” keeps the groove going while kicking a girl to curb.

“You’re Something Special” slows things down a bit for another expression of love.

The final track “Someday”, which features Stevie Wonder on vocals and harmonica, went to number 17 in the UK. The lyrics echo the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King for universal brotherhood and harmony across the races.

I knew of the Gap Band from their few Top 40 chart hits earlier in the decade, but I had not heard this album until I did this review. Turns out V: Jammin’ is great sampling of dance music by a band that knew how to get down.

For my review of their 1982 album The Gap Band IV, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

It is still unfathomable to me that "Party Train" failed to make the Hot 100 in 1983. How could there have been 100 more popular songs for three weeks in a row? I have the charts for those three weeks and I will testify under oath that "Party Train" was (and is) superior to at least 75% of the songs that did chart.

George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Grandmaster & Melle Mel's "White Lines" were two other songs I heard a lot on the radio and in the clubs but both of them also only bubbled under at #101 on the Hot 100 in 1983.

Gonna go listen to those three songs and try to get in a better mood - getting mad about music just seems counterproductive, you know?