In 1967, three brothers launched a fabulous and well-respected career in the R&B/Funk music community: Charlie Wilson, Ronnie Wilson and Robert Wilson. Together these three men were known as the Gap Band. Together, these brothers lead the charge when it came to the creation and performance of funk/R&B music. The brothers retired from their career as a group in 2010. Those active years produced a hefty and diverse discography, along with several stellar music videos and hundreds of live concerts. Today, we’re concentrating on the 10 best Gap Band songs from our perspective. Whether you agree with our top ten list or not, what we can both agree on, is the tremendous impact these three brothers from Oklahoma had on the music industry.
10. Going in Circles
The Gap Band’s cover of “Going in Circles” can be found on their 1985 album, Gap Band VII. Composed by Jerry Peters and Anita Poree, the Gap Band’s interpretation is straight on the mark, smooth as silk, sweet and giving. The song follows a rather bluesy harmonica intro, which leisurely coaxes the master vocals of Charlie Wilson to follow. A slow jam, one can picture it being played while two lovers get to know each other a little better, in front of a crackling fire place.
Tight and full of funk, “Shake” was made for the disco dance floor. Presented in the Gap Band’s 1979 album entitled, The Gap Band I, “Shake” made it into the top ten of Billboards R&B charts. The song was a pretty hot jam when taken off the LP. However, it was a whole different sound when played live, as lead vocalist Charlie Wilson pumped even more life into it by encouraging fan participation. Terrific dance song by one of the baddest funk bands on the planet.
8. All of My Love
The pioneers of hot, classic funk did it again with their performance of “All of my Love”. Nice volley between the bands vocals and the brass, while Roberts bass playing rounds out the rhythm. Some fans consider this song one of the best examples of New Jack Swing. Packed with showmanship, this song came out in 1989 and was one of the final hits that the Gap Band would capture, as the music scene for black musicians was moving rapidly into the world of gangsta rap.
7. Oops Upside Your Head
Brisk, peppy and spirited, “Oops Upside Your Head” is a unique blend of the Gap Band’s very own flavor, with sprinklings of P-Funk tossed in for good measure. Recorded in 1979, for the Gap Band album, Gap Band II, “Oops Upside Your Head”, was a solid dance song which included some humorous monologues by their cousin, Bootsy Collins. These monologues were voiced by Charlie Wilson throughout the song, which hit the US Hot R&B Billboard at number 4.
6. Yearning for Your Love
Composers Ronnie Wilson and Oliver Scott took The Gap Band in another direction with their song, “Yearning for Your Love”. The moment it hits the turntable, you’ll notice the absence of electronica present in most Gap Band songs. The synthesizers gone, the guitar takes the center stage here. A smooth, gentle energy replaces the animated funk present in their other songs. “Yearning for Your Love” has both a radio version as well as an extended version.
5. Party Train
“Party Train” is an exuberant, spirited and vivacious composition. This energetic piece is designed to get your heart pumping and your feet moving. When listening to this song, it’s almost as if a myriad of invisible, mist-like tendrils are reaching out for you, pulling you onto the dance floor. “Party Train” comes off the Gap Band’s seventh studio album, Gap Band V: Jammin’. Composed by the Gap Bands core writing team, Charlie Wilson, Ronnie Wilson, Lonnie Simmons, and Rudy Taylor, the song reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot Black Singles chart.
4. Burn Rubber on Me
When you feel like some late night, midnight cruisin’, putting the pedal to the metal this may be a great song for you. Back in the day, the groove of this spicy jam was so popular, that it hit the radio streams as well as skating rinks. Old School funk at its finest, “Burn Rubber on Me” was composed by band member Charlie Wilson, along with Lonnie Simmons, and Rudy Taylor. The lyrics tell of a woman who leaves her lover via driving off into the sunset. The song hit number one on the Billboard R and B chart.
3. Early in the Morning
One of the best Gap Band dusties out there, 1982’s “Early in the Morning” was a chart-topper for the band’s album, The Gap Band IV, hitting number one on the R&B Charts. Written by Charlie Wilson, Lonnie Simmons and Rudy Taylor, “Early in the Morning” is one of the best funk jams out there. The song was then covered by Robert Palmer, who gave the song new life and new fans. A song with a great groove, “Early in the Morning” definitely stands the test of time.
Another stunning example of an old school dusty that only gets better with age. Raymond Calhoun’s composition, “Outstanding” did indeed live up to its name, charting at number 1 on Billboards Hot Black Singles chart in 1982. The song can be found on the bands album Gap Band IV. Coming in 2 versions, with the original version 3:19 and the extended version playing for 6:13 minutes, “Outstanding” is a mellow, polished musical journey that has the power to pull you out of yourself and onto the dance floor.
1. You Dropped a Bomb on Me
“You Dropped a Bomb on Me” is number one on our list of the 10 best Gap Band songs because it’s not only a fan favorite, but it’s well-written, and has had an extensive place in American culture. For instance, this song can be found in everything from television commercials, shows, films, and even sports stadiums. It’s even on the list of best workout songs. Ruggedly funky at some spots, yet sports a mild groove in others. This song about a relationship gone bad was written by Charlie Wilson, Lonnie Simmons and Rudy Taylor and can be found on their 1982 album, Gap Band VI.
The Gap Band songs presented here are just the tip of the iceberg as their discography is extensive. and filled with classic funk/R&B music. Once you take some time out of your day to listen to an album or two, uninterrupted, you’ll then be able to understand why this band has lasted for so many decades, with their songs still getting tons of hits on YouTube and other video sites. For the most part, their music represents the absolute best in all things R&B, funk and dance, and sounds as fresh today as when it was originally released.