Zapp III

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Where the first two Zapp albums were nearly flawless with their beginning-to-end knee-deep funk, Zapp III showed slight symptoms of becoming derivative. You are still strained to find any filler here, but the album's second side does pale considerably in relation to its first side, alluding to the possibility that group leader Roger Troutman may have finally begun struggling for new ideas at this point. These latter songs such as "Spend My Whole Life" aren't necessarily bad, just uninspired. The album's first side features two mammoth jams -- "Heartbreaker, Pt. 1 & 2" and "I Can Make You Dance" -- that weren't as successful commercially as "More Bounce to the Once" or "Dance Floor" yet were nearly as effective in terms of dancefloor utility. With both clocking near ten minutes in length, these songs never sound monotonous or dull in their entirety, as Troutman kept the grooves grooving and the hooks catchy, while forever focusing on the funk. In the end, though, these two wonderful songs end up carrying much of this album's weight, mostly because of their epic stature and their obvious dancefloor emphasis. The remaining songs are just that -- songs -- rather than jams. Still, even though this album may often get overshadowed by its predecessors, it has aged well and remains one of the best early-'80s funk albums.

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