Incredible Bongo Band
|Also known as||Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band|
|Genres||Funk, rare groove, R&B|
|Website||Mr Bongo Records|
|Past members||Michael Viner|
The Incredible Bongo Band, also known as Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, was a project started in 1972 by Michael Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records. Viner was called on to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads . The band's output consisted of upbeat, funky, instrumental music. Many tracks were covers of popular songs of the day characterized by the prominence of bongo drums, conga drums, rock drums and brass.
Bongo Rock was featured in Robert Dimery's book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die .
The band released two albums, 1973's Bongo Rock, and 1974's Return of the Incredible Bongo Band. The instrumental "Bongo Rock", co-written by Art Laboe and Preston Epps and released by Epps as a Top 40 hit in 1959, was covered by the Incredible Bongo Band (shown as "Bongo Rock '73" on the album), and became a minor US hit for them in 1973, and a substantial hit in Canada (#20).
Michael Viner would make use of MGM recording facilities in down-time, recruiting whichever studio musicians were on-hand. Important contributions were made by Jim Gordon on drums, and Bobby Hall on percussion.
The first Incredible Bongo Band album included a cover of "Apache", an instrumental tune written by Jerry Lordan and originally made popular in the UK by The Shadows, and in the United States and Canada by Jørgen Ingmann. They recorded the song at Can-Base Studios in Vancouver to take advantage of Canadian content laws, which had helped promote their previous hit, "Bongo Rock."The group's version of "Apache" (produced by Perry Botkin Jr.) was not a hit upon release, and languished in relative obscurity until the late 1970s, when it was adopted by early hip-hop artists, including pioneering deejay Kool Herc, for the uncommonly long percussion break in the middle of the song. Subsequently, many of the Incredible Bongo Band's other releases were sampled by hip-hop producers, and the "Apache" break also remains a staple of many producers in drum and bass. The song received popular attention again in 2001 when it was featured in an ad for an Acura SUV. In 2008, music critic Will Hermes did an article on "Apache" and the Incredible Bongo Band for the New York Times and had an entire documentary devoted to it called "Sample this". In 2018, Apache was used as the soundtrack to a fight scene in Black Lightning .
As well, the band's cover of "Let There Be Drums," which was made famous by Sandy Nelson and also performed by the Ventures, was used as the theme song for the long-running television show Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling during the 1980s. It made #66 in Canada in December 1973.
"Last Bongo in Belgium" has been sampled in the songs "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" performed by the Beastie Boys, "Angel" performed by Massive Attack and "Song of Life" performed by Leftfield.
"Let There Be Drums" was used in Ken Burns' Baseball: The 10th Inning, the follow-up to Burns' '94 PBS documentary.
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was used as the main loop in two different songs by Nas: "Thief's Theme" and "Hip Hop Is Dead".
The 2013 documentary Sample This, directed by Dan Forrer and narrated by Gene Simmons, recounts the story of the Incredible Bongo Band and its recording of "Apache".
"Bongolia" was used in Edgar Wright's 2017 film Baby Driver .
A cover group was formed by musician Shawn Lee, with the parallel name "Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band". They released a cover album with Ubiquity Records in 2011. The album was entitled Tabla Rock, based on the album Bongo Rock. On Tabla Rock, Lee covered the entire Bongo Band debut album, as well as two tracks from their second album. Lee's album covers the music on tabla instead of bongo, presenting it in an Indian-funk style.
Movie Sample This (2012), cast include:
A2. "Let There Be Drums"
A4. "Wipe Out"
B1. "Dueling Bongos"
B3. "Raunchy '73"
C1. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
C2. "Bongo Rock '73"
C3. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught in Your Zipper"
C4. "Sharp Nine"
D2. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
D3. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
D4. "Ohkey Dokey"
D5. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"
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Michael Ames Viner was an American film producer and record producer, who later shifted into book publishing and became an innovator in the audiobook field. A widely sampled percussion break in the recording of the song "Apache" by the Incredible Bongo Band, a group he assembled in the early 1970s, has been frequently integrated into many hip hop recordings.
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"Apache" is an instrumental written by English composer Jerry Lordan. The original version was by guitarist Bert Weedon, but Lordan did not like the version. The Shadows recorded "Apache" in June 1960; when it was released the next month, their version topped the UK Singles Chart for five weeks. Bert Weedon's original recording was released at the same time and reached number 24.
"Bongo Rock" is a rock and roll instrumental written and recorded by Preston Epps. Released as a single in 1959, it charted #14 Pop in the United States. In 1973 the Incredible Bongo Band recorded a cover version of "Bongo Rock" under the title "Bongo Rock '73" which became a minor hit. The Incredible Bongo Band version of the tune gained significant popularity in early hip hop circles as a breakbeat. Pioneering DJ Kool Herc used it frequently in his sets. It was issued in the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilation series and has been extensively sampled by pop and hip hop producers.
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