The Gap Band

The Gap Band [1977]

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Like L.T.D., the Gap Band didn't enjoy a major commercial breakthrough until its third album. Some R&B lovers think that 1979's self-titled The Gap Band (which contained the hit "Shake") was the combo's first album but, in fact, the Wilson Brothers had recorded two little-known LPs before that. First, they provided Magician's Holiday for Shelter in 1974, and in 1977 they recorded this self-titled sophomore LP for Tattoo. This record (which shouldn't be confused with the self-titled album they recorded for Mercury in 1979) wasn't a huge seller; in fact, most of the people who know the Gap Band for "Outstanding" or "Burn Rubber on Me" have never heard it. Nonetheless, it's a competent effort even though it is uneven and falls short of the excellence of the group's subsequent work. In 1977, the Gap Band wasn't as Parliament-minded as it would become a few years later -- the funk that dominates this album is actually closer to Sly & the Family Stone, Tower of Power, or Stevie Wonder (who was a major influence on lead singer Charles Wilson). This LP isn't a masterpiece, although its best songs (which include "Knuckle Head Funkin'" and "God Is Watching You") indicated that the Gap Band had a lot of potential -- and in 1979, the Wilson Brothers started living up to that potential. The Gap Band is far from essential, but from an historic perspective, it's interesting to hear what the group sounded like before Lonnie Simmons came into the picture.

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