Incredible Bongo Band
|Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band|
|Website||Mr Bongo Records|
The Incredible Bongo Band, also known as Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, was a project started in 1972 by Michael Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records. Viner was called on to supplement the soundtrack to the B-film The Thing With Two Heads. The band's output consisted of upbeat, funky, instrumental music. Many tracks were covers of popular songs of the day characterized by the prominence of bongo drums, conga drums, rock drums and brass.
The band released two albums, 1973's Bongo Rock, and 1974's Return of the Incredible Bongo Band. The instrumental "Bongo Rock", co-written by Art Laboe and Preston Epps and released by Epps as a Top 40 hit in 1959, was covered by the Incredible Bongo Band (shown as "Bongo Rock '73" on the album), and became a minor US hit for them in 1973, and a substantial hit in Canada (#20).
Michael Viner would make use of MGM recording facilities in down-time, recruiting whichever studio musicians were on-hand. This apparently included many well-known blow-ins, all uncredited. Important contributions were made by Jim Gordon on drums and King Errisson on bongos. Ringo Starr is rumored to have played on some tracks, specifically "Kiburi". The "down-time" sessions carried on for some time, until upper management finally quelled the vanity project.
Other musicians involved in the sessions, per Sample This, the movie include:
Musicians mentioned elsewhere  include:
This was never an actual band. Once the product had been finally released, a fake band was assembled and photographed. Those photos were seen on some album artwork, and in publicity.
The first Incredible Bongo Band album included a cover of "Apache", an instrumental tune written by Jerry Lordan and originally made popular in the UK by The Shadows, and in the United States and Canada by Jørgen Ingmann. They recorded the song at Can-Base Studios in Vancouver to take advantage of Canadian content laws, which had helped promote their previous hit, "Bongo Rock." The group's version of "Apache" (produced by Perry Botkin Jr.) was not a hit upon release, and languished in relative obscurity until the late 1970s, when it was adopted by early hip-hop artists, including pioneering deejay Kool Herc, for the uncommonly long percussion break in the middle of the song. Subsequently, many of the Incredible Bongo Band's other releases were sampled by hip-hop producers, and the "Apache" break also remains a staple of many producers in drum and bass. The song received popular attention again in 2001 when it was featured in an ad for an Acura SUV. In 2008, music critic Will Hermes did an article on "Apache" and the Incredible Bongo Band for the New York Times and had an entire documentary devoted to it called "Sample this".
As well, the band's cover of "Let There Be Drums," which was made famous by Sandy Nelson and also performed by the Ventures, was used as the theme song for the long-running television show Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling during the 1980s. It made #66 in Canada in December 1973.
A group formed by musician Shawn Lee with the parallel name "Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band" released a cover album with Ubiquity Records in 2011; Tabla Rock, based on the album Bongo Rock. Lee took on the entire Bongo Band debut album, and also two tracks from their second album. Lee's album covers the music on tabla instead of bongo, presenting it in an Indian-funk style.
A2. "Let There Be Drums"
A4. "Wipe Out"
B1. "Dueling Bongos"
B3. "Raunchy '73"
C1. "Last Bongo in Belgium"
C2. "Bongo Rock '73"
C3. "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, Your Tie's Caught in Your Zipper"
C4. "Sharp Nine"
D2. "Sing, Sing, Sing"
D3. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
D4. "Ohkey Dokey"
D5. "When the Bed Breaks Down, I'll Meet You in the Spring"