The core of Zapp, the 10-member funk band from Dayton, is the four Troutman brothers: Zapp, Roger, Lester and Larry. Introduced to the world in 1980 by the P-Funk duo of Bootsy Collins and George Clinton, the Troutmans dressed up the slow, grinding P-Funk groove in talk-box vocals and buzzing synthesizers and had a hit with "More Bounce to the Ounce."
It turns out they relied heavily on effects, because this family of talented musicians doesn't seem to have a first-rate singer or an original thinker among them. "Zapp III" finds the band still pursuing the same old groove with no apparent idea of what to put on top of it.
They trot out the tiresome talk-box on "Heartbreaker." "Spend My Whole Life" and "Play Some Blues" take the novel approach of offering backing vocals without lead vocals. "Tut-Tut (Jazz)" is a nicely played but predictable jazz instrumental. The album's best cut is the new single "I Can Make You Dance," an undisguised imitation of George Clinton.
Roger Troutman, who wrote most of "Zapp III" and produced it, is a talented musician, but he's at his best producing real singers as he's done this year with Dick Smith in "Initial Thrust" and New Horizons in "Something New." ZAPP -- "Zapp III" (Warner 23875-1). Appearing with Kurtis Blow, Trouble Funk and Experience Unlimited, Saturday at 8 at the Capital Centre.