The cornerstone of hip hop that is Incredible Bongo Band’s Apache has done two things for Last Bongo In Belgium. It has meant thousands of people who would never listen to 1970’s guitar funk own a copy of what is an brilliant horn and bongo led romp. And it has meant thousands of people who do own this awesome track have it at their fingertips and never listen to it.
Half TV Theme, half cheesy swing band filler there are moments during LBIB with the requisite breakdown proto hip hop required. There are also some mock Santana twangy bits and the odd moment that sound like we’re wandering into that cliché of 70’s porno soundtrack (imagine porn being so high budget it had music composed especially for it! The 70’s were a weird time)
For the passing hipster it’s all about the one Africa Bambaataa sampled. For the musical adventurer there are rewards all over The Incredible Bongo Band’s album Bongo Rock. Cover versions of big hits from the era are ‘Bongoised’, there’s long showboaty sections of musicians sparring with each other and some unflinchingly cheesy song titles that crowbar the word Bongo in. There’s every possibility this was the naffest thing in the world to the coolest of the cool in 1973. Just some cheesy novelty act stinking up the airwaves. Funny how the passage of time can switch all that around on you.
Last Bongo In Belgium really does it for me. When it comes on while I’m walking about I feel like I have my own theme tune playing in the background. What it has to do with Belgium I have no idea. Why there’s such a Bongo shortage in the land of chocolate and European Union is still unclear by the end of the track. Yet the multiple false endings, the clean funk of the guitar riff and the sheer bloody sunniness of the whole thing wins me over.