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The original Incredible Bongo Band’s “Bongo Rock” is firmly cemented into musical history having provided the oft sampled (and completely irresistible) “Apache” drum break for a million and one producers to cut up. Also known as
Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, the project was born in 1972. Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records, was making use of MGM recording facilities in down-time, recruiting whichever studio musicians
were on-hand. Ringo Starr is rumored to have played on some tracks. They made two albums of funky, instrumental music filled with covers of popular songs of the day and heavily relying on bongo drums, conga drums, rock drums and brass.
Over 3 decades after its inception UK producer, and avid record collector, Shawn Lee was marveling at the fact that there had never been an Indian style, sitar and tabla-heavy, version of the Incredible Bongo Band masterpiece “Apache.” “Such an obvious track, I still find it hard to believe that one doesn't already exist. (It is hella’ obscure if it does…) “Apache” is one of the greatest and most famous drum-breaks of all time,” says Lee. Not content with covering just “Apache,” Lee decided he’d take on the entire Bongo Band debut album; and also two of his favorite tracks from their second album for good measure. “Why cover a song when you can cover a whole album? This is the road to madness my friend, and it is my preferred route!” he adds.
Lee has attempted to replay, recreate, and capture all of the sonic characteristics of the original recordings. Viner left Lee with simple tunes to cover, but the Bongo Band used sophisticated arrangements and his all-star line-up of guests played killer performances throughout the album. Lee couldn’t find any Beatles to recruit and record, instead he called on the talents of tabla player Prithpal Rajput aka Cyber of the Asian Dub Foundation, and Style Council keyboard-man Mick Talbot to help realize his eccentric vision. With the utmost respect in mind Lee has re-thought Viners drum-driven masterpiece, presenting it in an Indian-funk style that could easily be confused with the vintage release Lee was bemused to never have previously found. Lee had such a blast covering all the songs he’s thinking about other favorite albums to tackle, tabla style.