For those who weren’t around at the time, it may be odd to realize that Zapp’s “More Bounce To The Ounce” used to be a new song by someone most people outside of Ohio didn’t know about. In the last 34 years, the song has been sampled and referred to countless times, it has pretty much become a part of America’s music DNA. In 1980, it wasn’t weird as in strange but more like “what is this?” or “where in the world did this come group?” Another question: “what is a Zapp?”
I don’t remember how or why I obtained it, but one day my mom gave me the gift of Zapp’s first album. Not sure if I already had heard “More Bounce To The Ounce” on the radio or if for some reason she had heard it and maybe assumed her son would enjoy it. Not knowing who or what was Zapp, I did recognize one name on the record: Bootsy. For me, if this Zapp record had something/anything to do with George Clinton, then it had to be good without question. I still remember putting my needle on the record, hearing the first beat, the synth, and the robotic voice singing “more bounce” and in a second I was immediately blown away. Then the song keeps on going and while the chords are pretty much minimalistic, it fit perfectly. I also loved it because the song was 9 1/2 minutes and as a fan of the long song, that felt awesome. I knew Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove” was 7 1/2 minutes and since Zapp shared the same label (Warner Bros.) with Funkadelic, I had thought that it had the same feel, the same groove, the same vibe. Not songs that would sound similar but that here are two long songs that begin the album, maybe it’s going to take me to a journey.
As a kid, even if I had the full length album version, I’d sometimes ask for the 45 just to hear the short version, which is how radio stations would play the song. The A-side had Part I and while I knew when certain parts of the song would happen, I would also begin to remember the edit perfectly too. It reduces the funk quite a bit, cutting the song from 9 1/2 minutes to just under four and yet if this was meant to be what would give the song radio and jukebox play, then this is how it was put together. Pre-digital, the only way you could piece together a radio edit was with razor blades but the edit seemed so finely trimmed and done, a bit intricate to my 9 year old ears and it just worked. It was a compact bounce. A longtime friend from Arizona once made me a mix tape that opened with the song and while I eventually played the entire tape, I would often play “More Bounce To The Ounce” over and over, rewind it to play it again to where I went to places with nothing but the one song performed with an emphasis on the one. I was 9 years old when the song was released and for me, it was a bit of a transition period, primarily because I felt I was about to enter the double digits in age, I was becoming “older”, I wasn’t sure what life would bring but I was anxious yet ready. “More Bounce To The Ounce” welcomed me into a different time and place, even though I was still living on Boyd Lane in Honolulu. When Troutman released “So Rough So Tough” a year later as Roger, I wondered how in the world did he get a chance to release more music, this time under another name.
Even though the B-side to the single has a Part II, the two parts together still do not feature the full song but it still sounds good. 34 years after its release, no one has ever heard the full length version of the song either. I have always wanted to hear what happens when the song fades, how much longer did Roger Troutman and his brothers continue on. Extra five minutes? Maybe just 90 seconds? I’d love to find out.