Zapp is easily one of the most memorable and often forgotten funk bands from the 1980s. This group originated from Dayton, Ohio featuring the Troutman brothers: Lester, Larry, Terry & Roger. Gregory Jackson & Bobby Glover also were in the original lineup. Before signing to Warner Bros, the group was signed to George Clinton’s label.
Over the years, the lineup would change frequently with Ray Davis & Shirley Murdock being apart of the group for some time.
Zapp (Roger in particular,) is often credited for revolutionizing the funk movement, the use of the talk box & influencing the west coast hip hop movement.
The west coast scene appreciated our favorite legends. This was evident in Tupac & Dr. Dre’s hit “California Love,” which Roger was featured on..& gave Roger’s career another boost after a slump in the late 80s-early 90s.
Speaking of Tupac, it was evident our beloved rapper was a huge fan of Zapp & Roger because he’s sampled them for a few of his well known hits.
Roger also was a producer on Shirley Murdock’s debut album, which contained her signature song “As We Lay.” It has also been covered by Kelly Price. Shirley was also featured on the 1993 hit Slow & Easy from Zapp & Roger’s greatest hits album.
Their work has also been sampled or covered by artists like Mariah Carey, Lil Kim, Ja Rule, Charlie Wilson, H-Town & many others.
Favorites: Be Alright, More Bounce to the Ounce, Coming Home, Freedom, Funky Bounce, Brand New Player.
Debut albums always have the gems! Zapp’s first record is no exception. From beginning to end, this group brought electro funk to the mainstream media and it’s been a love affair ever since.
Zapp II (1982):
Favorites: Dance Floor, A Touch Of Jazz (Playin’ Kinda Ruff Part II,) Come On, Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing,) Do You Really Want an Answer?
Zapp’s sophomore album gave us more and more bops. They set the bar higher and higher with every release.
Zapp III (1983):
Favorites: Heartbreaker, I Can Make You Dance, Spend My Whole Ljfe, Play Some Blues, We Need The Buck, Tut-Tut (Jazz).
The band’s third album kept the same energy going with songs like Heartbreaker & I Can Make You Dance burning up dance floors across the world.
The New Zapp IV U (1985):
Favorites: Computer Love, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Make Me Feel Good, Ja Ready to Rock, I Only Have Eyes 4 U, Itchin’ for Your Twitchin’, It Doesn’t Really Matter.
Roger switched up the formula of records with The New Zapp IV U, hence the title. Instead of focusing on a funky dance floor bop, the songs on this record have stronger songwriting, stellar beats and the usual sound we know and love.
With a hit like “Computer Love,” it shows that change is always needed..no matter how good the formula is.
Zapp Vibe (1989):
Favorites: Ooh Baby Baby, I Play The Talk Box, Fire, Jake E Stanstill, Jesse Jackson, Back to Bass-iks, Stop That, Been This Way Before, Sad-Day Moaning.
The band’s last album released before the untimely deaths of Larry & Roger Troutman, “Vibe” is exactly that. A vibe. More variety and funky tunes that we still appreciate to this day.
Zapp VI: Back By Popular Demand (2001):
Favorites: Zapp Is Back, You’ve Got Mail, Late Night Fantasy, She’s ‘Bout to Roll, Be With You Forever, I Finally Found What I’ve Been Searching For, I Wanna Love You, Say You Will Say You Won’t.
Produced by Lester & Terry Troutman, this album is good! However, it’s missing the Roger touch.
The Many Facets Of Roger (1981):
Favorites: I Heard It Through The Grapevine, So Ruff, So Tuff, Maxx Axe, Blue (A Tribute to the Blues,) Do It Roger, A Chunk Of Sugar.
Riding high off of the success of Zapp’s debut album, the frontman released his own LP to keep the grooves moving! His rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is rich, funky & over 8 minutes!
You may have heard it in the 1995 movie “Friday.”
Overall, it is a wonderful solid album with phenomenal tunes.
The Saga Continues (1984):
Favorites: In The Midnight Hour, Girl, Cut It Out, The Break Song, In The Mix, Play Your Guitar, Brother Roger, Bucket of Blood, I Keep Trying.
The Saga Continues shows Roger as the immaculate entertainer he is, especially with the talk box!
Favorites: I Want to Be Your Man, Night and Day, Thrill Seekers, Private Lover, I Really Want to Be Your Man, If You’re Serious, Thrill Seekers, Tender Moments.
If Unlimited meant Roger forever coming with the bops, then sign me up! His biggest hit “I Want to Be Your Man” rests here, along with a cover of James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. Roger was unstoppable.
Bridging The Gap (1991):
Favorites: Hurry Up, Curiosity, Emotions, (Everybody) Get Up, Victim Of Love, Break Through, Take Me Back, Love Incorporated, Who-La-Boola.
His final album before he passed away, Bridging the Gap was also electro funk as it could be. Every song on this record is typical Zapp & Roger content, but unique in its own way.
Zapp & Roger will always go down for the being the greatest the Funk music scene has ever seen. Larry & Roger Troutman’s legacy..Zapp’s legacy will always live on for being phenomenal & immaculate as it can be. -MJ.