Though Zapp III was far from a failure or even a disappointment, it wasn't quite on par with previous Roger Troutman efforts, being a little uneven and less of a commercial success. So when Troutman resurfaced in 1985, he shook up his formula a bit, focusing on an even collection of succinct songs rather than an album driven by epic anthems and filled out with shorter songs. To further communicate the concept that he was shaking things up, Troutman blatantly titled his album The New Zapp IV U. On the one hand, things really didn't change as much as Troutman would have you believe. The New Zapp IV U is still immersed in bouncy, carefree funk, and he still has a monster anthem with "Computer Love." The main change seems to be an emphasis on tighter song structures rather than loose, epic dancefloor jams. Yet on the other hand, these tiny changes are all Troutman really needed to do. The previous three Zapp albums were all stellar, and it would have been a shame for him to abandon a winning formula. In the end, the new approach to songwriting here proves just enough change to make this a fresh-sounding album. Had Troutman returned with yet another Zapp album propelled by one or two epic, ten-minute dancefloor jams and a few shorter funk exercises, it would have seemed incredibly trite -- after three albums, it was time for a change to keep things fresh.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier