Do you know the name Michael Viner? You’ll never forget it after you read this review. In a time long ago, after promoting people like Ramsey Lewis and Woody Allen in LA, he took a job as aide to Senator Robert Kennedy. Following Rob’s tragic assassination at the hands of the CIA, Viner left politics to work for Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s record company. There, he signed the Osmonds and Sammy Davis Jr., for whom he produced “Candy Man” and other hits.
MGM also makes movies, so when cult b-movie The Thing With Two Heads needed a couple tracks to score a tacked-on car chase, Viner hopped into the studio with a few jam ideas and Academy Award nominee Perry Botkin Jr. The subsequent “Bongo Rock” / “Bongolia” single surprisingly went on to sell over two million copies in North America and provided the duo with a little incentive. With unlimited studio time at his disposal, Viner formed the only two Incredible Bongo Band albums out of sessions with Traffic drummer Jim Gordon, bongo master King Errisson, Hal Blaine, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Glenn Campbell, Harry Nilsson, and anyone else who happened to drop by. The albums didn’t come close to repeating the commercial success of the first single, but that’s not where the life of these albums ended.
In the mid to late ‘70s, Kool Herc found and looped the breakdowns of “Bongo Rock” and their cover of The Shadows’ “Apache” for the New York dance scene, making these the base for some of the first hip-hop tracks ever produced. “Apache” has gone on to become one of the most sampled songs in music history as it provided the backbone for hip-hop, breaks, and influenced many other genres (seeing use from Coldcut, Goldie, Jurassic 5, Sugarhill Gang, Massive Attack, and many others along the way). So, yeah, Viner’s got himself quite the legacy.
This Bongo Rock re-release collects both of the legendary deep funk IBB albums with a couple old school remixes, so if you’re looking to own a solid chunk of music history, this is it. These original works have aged gloriously and stand well on their own, even if you have no appreciation for the genres they inadvertently helped create. “Apache” may be the most recognizable, but there is still a rich field of extractable samples to be had for the next generation. There may never be another album this far reaching and significant again.
2. Let There Be Drums
4. Last Bongo In Belgium
5. Duelling Bongos
7. Raunchy `73
8. Bongo Rock
9. Kiburi (Part 1)
10. Sing Sing Sing
11. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
13. When The Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You In The Spring
15. Okey Dokey
16. Sharp Nine
17. Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley Your Tie's Caught In Your Zipper
18. Apache (Grand Master Flash Remix)
19. Last Bongo In Belgium (Breakers Mix)