When it comes to ’80s funk, Zapp are heavyweights. Coming straight out of Ohio (that great funk state) the Troutman brothers, Larry, Roger, Lester, and Terry, came to prominence with the help of musical gawds Bootsy Collins and George Clinton (king of the P-Funk), and a magical little device called a talkbox, and changed popular music forever. For the first half of the decade Zapp and it’s breakout star member Roger Troutman was running thangs, bringing the futuristic funk on unique tunes with a crisp, electronic flair and robotic-sounding vocals (once again, the talkbox, ladies and gents!). Zapp really had a major influence on the music to come, particularly in funk, R&B, and especially in the fledgling genre of hip-hop, which has sampled this group countless times over the decades. The band has really done a lot.
Their 1980 debut, Zapp, is a great introduction to the group and nice preview of the revolution that was to come. While a bit more funk-based and less talk-boxy than their later works, reflecting the guiding hands of Bootsy and Brother George, this album still definitely brings the goods, becoming a hit on release and showing tremendous promise with tracks like “More Bounce to the Ounce,” that particular listen still very much a staple for any party soundtrack. But me? I’m definitely partial to “Be Alright.”
“Be Alright” is a jam, a nearly 8-minute epic which never fails to lift my spirits and pick me up when I’m feeling down. This listen is assuring, confident, and effortlessly smooth, especially when the band just rolls with it and lets the track breathe. It’s an irresistible song. Really. I mean it. Just listen. If it doesn’t get your head nodding, you have no soul.
Also for 2Pac fans, this one might sound familiar as well. Enjoy!