Incredible Bongo Band, Bongo Rock

Andre Torres

By Andre Torres

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Bongo Rock

Incredible Bongo Band

In 1972, MGM Records executive Michael Viner assembled a group of musicians to record music for a chase scene for the B-movie soundtrack The Thing with Two Heads. Dubbed the Incredible Bongo Band, this ad hoc combo, which included drummer Jim Gordon (of Derek and the Dominos) and percussionist King Errisson, recorded "Bongo Rock" and "Bongolia." Released together as a seven-inch single on MGM's Pride imprint, it went on to sell over two million copies. The album Bongo Rock featured other funky standouts like "Apache" and a remake of Sandy Nelson's 1961 proto-surf hit "Let There Be Drums"; the former would have the biggest impact, if accidentally.

Some of the funkiest grooves of all time, and the breakbeat that started a revolution.

In the mid-'70s Bronx, DJ Kool Herc began testing his "merry-go-round" theory using the record. "The breaks came out of an experiment," he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2004. "I was noticing people used to wait for the particular parts of the record, to dance to, just to do their special little moves." With its intensive bongo workout, "Apache" was just what Herc and his dancers were looking for. Utilizing two copies, Herc began repeating the percussion breakdown for the crowd. "When I [played] that, that experiment went out the window," he told Gross. In essence, "Apache" is the cornerstone of hip-hop. It has gone on to become the quintessential b-boy anthem, and would be sampled countless times over the ensuing decades.

A year after Bongo Rock, the Incredible Bongo Band released The Return of the Incredible Bongo Band before calling it a day. But the popularity of Viner and company's grooves continues unabated. This 2006 release combines the best of both Bongo Band albums into a solid package. It's a must-have for anyone looking to track the sonic foundation of hip-hop, and features some of the funkiest grooves ever recorded.