Standing at the crossroads of sleekness and soul, Zapp was a funk band for the ages. Formed by Dayton, Ohio's Troutman brothers - singer/multi-instrumentalist Roger, percussionist Larry, bassist Terry and drummer Lester - Zapp were P-funk disciples that set themselves apart and influenced a generation of R&B and hip-hop artists through Roger Troutman's expressive talk box-enhanced vocals.
On June 18, for Black Music Month, Zapp & Roger's All the Greatest Hits will be released on colored vinyl, featuring the biggest singles from Zapp as well as favorites from Troutman's solo career. Originally released in 1993, this collection essentially closed the book on Zapp; Roger lent his talk box to 2Pac's chart-topping rap single "California Love" in 1996, three years before Roger and Larry died in a tragic, mysterious murder-suicide.
In honor of All the Greatest Hits, here's five classic cuts from the record that make this a must-add to your funk arsenal.
"More Bounce to the Ounce": Zapp's groundbreaking debut single was a one-chord jam cooked to perfection with the help of Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins, who produced and played guitar on the track. Roger, in turn, worked on Funkadelic's last album for Warner Bros. Records, The Electric Spanking of War Babies.
"Dance Floor": Pulling away from the overt P-funk stylings of their first album, Zapp scored their first and only No. 1 R&B hit with a track that anticipated the coming keyboard boom in soul music.
"Computer Love": their fourth album was titled The New Zapp IV U, and single "Computer Love" lived up to the name. This slow jam was augmented by new drum machine textures and sampled record scratches - and Roger's iconic talk box vocals were augmented by guest leads from co-writer Shirley Murdock and The Gap Band's Charlie Wilson.
"I Want to Be Your Man": Roger Troutman had been releasing records under his own (first) name concurrently with Zapp through the '80s, and it was 1987's Unlimited that gave the singer his biggest hit, either on his own or with Zapp. "I Want to Be Your Man" built on the balladry of "Computer Love" but featured Roger, for the first time, singing both with his talk box and without. The result: a No. 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Slow and Easy": For the new single on All the Greatest Hits, the Troutmans put together everything fans loved about Zapp over the last decade: a laid back groove, a return appearance by Murdock and those sinuous vocals from Roger. It became their seventh and final Top 20 R&B hit.