Classics: The Gap Band – Big Fun (Total Experience)
‘Oops Up Side Your Head’, ‘Yearning For Your Love’, ‘Early In The Morning’. But also ‘You Dropped A Bomb On Me’, ‘Outstanding’, ‘Party Train’ and ‘Big Fun’! As many classics that paved the way of one of the greatest Funk, R&B/Soul bands of all time. Their name: The Gap Band being the brainchild of the brothers Wilson (Robert, Ronnie and lead singer Charlie). Himself widely admitted to have inspired singers such as R. Kelly. If not Aaron Hall of the Guy fame on the positioning of their voices.
Taken from their ‘Gap Band’ 8 album, ‘Big Fun’ would be the group’s greatest success in the UK back in 1986. With their saga owing much to L.A.-based executive producer Lonnie Simmons who brought them on his Total Experience label where they would drop their most significant jams.
Not to be missed with Kool & The Gang‘s jam of the likes, The Gap Band‘s ‘Big Fun’ is quite an interesting theme lyrically speaking. Leavin’ the girl considering the guy the way she wants at the end.
“If you want my love, come and get it, girl. And if you want me for a toy, do I have a choice? I don’t know! If you want my love, come and get it, girl. And if you want to be my friend through thick and thin, you can fill in. That’s no sin having big fun…”
From Tulsa, OK, The Gap Band were the brothers Wilson (Charlie, Robert and Ronnie). Even though they came to count extra members at a time or another. Like Val Young for instance who collaborated with them on 5 albums. Or Malvin “Dino” Vice who eventually produced a couple of projects for Yarbrough & Peoples.
The Gap Band had their first break back in 1974. This while becomin’ the backup band for fellow Oklahoman Leon Russell on his ‘Stop All That Jazz’ album. As a matter of fact, ‘Magicians Holiday’, their debut-album that same year, didn’t make any particular impression. No more than its follow-up – a first eponymous album of theirs – which saw the light 3 years after on RCA.
A meeting with producer Lonnie Simmons will change everything though. With the latter contributing to most of the biggest classics of the group.
One could sort of feel the beginning of a change on their second self-titled album back in 1979. Then on its follow-up – ‘Gap Band II’ – which features the memorable ‘I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)’, re-titled ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’. ‘Meanwhile Charlie Wilson provided background vocals on Stevie Wonder‘s 1980 hit ‘I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It’, from his ‘Hotter Than July’ album.
The group reachin’ the Grail with their ‘The Gap Band III’ album during the same year. An effort which spanned the classics ‘Humpin”, ‘Yearning For Your Love’ and the #1 R&B hit ‘Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)’.
From their 1984 ‘Gap Band IV’ album, ‘Early In The Morning’, ‘You Dropped A Bomb On Me’ and ‘Outstanding’ strenghtened their position to the forefront. And so did ‘Party Train’ from their ‘V’ album, although the latter happened to be kinda weak as a whole in comparison. Their 6th episode went kinda better. Spanning extra goodies such as ‘I Found My Baby’ and ‘Disrespect’ back in 1984. Meanwhile Charlie Wilson and Shirley Murdoch provided backing vocals on Zapp & Roger‘s ‘Computer Love’ that same year.
‘Gap Band VII’ didn’t make it at all despite the presence of their cover version of the classic ‘Going In Circles’. And the group strated strugglin’ in their homeland. Eventually scoring their biggest success in the UK with ‘Big Fun’, from their ‘8’ album.
The end of the 80’s saw them makin’ some extra noise. This with ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’. A track which Norman Whifield co-wrote with William Bryant II, it served as the opening cut to the OST of Keenen Ivory Wayans‘s 1988 American action comedy parody blaxploitation film of the name. The swingin’ ‘All My Love’ from their 1989 ‘Round Trip’ debut-album for Capitol standing as their last #1 R&B hit…
During the 90’s, the band released three non-charting studio albums and two live albums. Meanwhile Charlie Wilson ventured into a solo career back in 1992, counting several moderate R&B hits on his own.
The Gap Band retired back in 2010, after some 43 years together. Their music inspired countless artists. Beginning with late producer Heavy D who sampled ‘Outstanding’ on Soul For Real‘s ‘Every Little Thing I Do’ hit single back in 1995.
Robert Wilson died of a heart attack at his home in Palmdale, CA on Aug. 15, 2010, aged 53.