“Bongo Rock” is a timeless classic album! There’s no other way to start a review of this album if I had my way all IPod’s would come stocked with this album already on it. The Incredible Bongo band certainly lives up to their name and delivers one of the greatest albums ever put to record.
The Incredible bongo Band was a project created by MGM executive Michael Viener and created entirely of session musicians that were looking to jam in their off time. The ensemble put out 2 albums in their brief existence before falling between the cracks of 70’s rock. Their influence however was substantial and can still be heard to this day. Particularly in hip hop who has sampled this album relentlessly since the genres incarnation. “Bongo Rock” is made up entirely of instrumentals, most of which are covers but packs an undeniably impressive sound as well as an all-star lineup including appearances by George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Jim Gordon (of Traffic fame).
“Bongo Rock” is a flawless album, every song on the original LP and the expanded 2006 reissue is good. Since most of the songs are covers, including “Satisfaction”, “Ina-Gadda-Da-Vidda”, and “Apache”, the album provides a familiar listen while showing off the incredible musicianship of the band. The blending of conga drums and bongos with rock gives the songs a certain flair. A sort of jump funk dance party, I’m sure that’s a genre.
The most well-known track is “Apache” which I’m willing to bet my first born you’ve heard sampled in a hip hop song. The breakdown is undeniably catchy and is a fun lively track. Other key tracks are “Last Bongo in Belgium” which was sampled by the Beastie Boys on “Looking Down The Barrel Of a Gun” from their 1989 magnum opus “Paul’s Boutique”, The Iron Butterfly song ‘"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is put together perfectly and has stunning guitar and horn sections. The first track “Let There Be Drums” is a tremendous battle between a drum and a bongo that sets up the album perfectly.
I’ve always felt the 70’s have the best hidden treasures when it comes to music and this album certainly re-enforces my hypothesis. The musicianship is FANTASTIC, and keeps this album from becoming repetitive and dull, the major flaw of most instrumental albums. Overall you need this album in your collection no matter what you bands you listen to because chances are they stole something from this album.