The Sugar Hill Gang – The Sugarhill Groove

The Sugar Hill Gang – 8th Wonder // Sugar Hill Groove (Sugar Hill Records) 1980. One of the more obscure Sugar Hill tracks is the B-Side to 8th Wonder by the Sugar Hill Gang entitled The Sugar Hill Groove and that is a major oversight. I am not aware of it being comped on any Sugar Hill retrospectives. I think this is because as a rap record it’s just not that good. Sad to say but The Sugar Hill Gang were just not that good at rapping. Rappers Delight was a novelty record and as some folks now know, large portions of it were lifted verbatim from Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers. Yep, it’s another classic example of access to resources determining history. It doesn’t matter that rap started in the Bronx by emcees like Caz. To casual listeners, rap was started by three marginal dudes from New Jersey.

Of course, here at Last Days we are anything but casual listeners. And Sugar Hill Groove is anything but a casual listen. As mentioned earlier, it aint much of a rap record. But as a funk record, this thing is freakin’ GODHEAD. And this brings up another overlooked figure in the history of rap…. Doug Wimbish, or more to the point, the house band at Sugar Hill Records which was made up of Doug on bass, Keith LeBlanc on drums and Skip Mc Donald on guitar. All three of these musicians created the core Sugar Hill sound.

Doug Wimbish was a journeyman bass player who had been navigating through the underground funk scene in NYC during the late 1970s. He ended up in a business relationship with Sylvia & Joe Robinson, the future proprietors of Sugar Hill Records and ended up performing with a funk act entitled Wood Brass & Steel that was associated the Robinsons. After being in the Sugar Hill house band he went on to play with Tackhead and Living Color. The full story can be found in a great interview with Doug here.

On this track, Doug and company lay it all out there. The insanely heavy bass line, the New Yorican timbales, the nascent synth line. It’s all in the Sugar Hill Groove. Musically it is a cover of Catch a Groove by the band Juice (another obscure 1970′s funk act) but listen to the playing. Sit back and turn this up REAL LOUD and witness the greatest funk act ever as they run through nine plus minutes of pure unfiltered groove. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Sugar Hill Groove.

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8 Responses to The Sugar Hill Gang – The Sugarhill Groove

  1. Great post, great writing (even though I can’t get the mp3 to download)…

    Doug Wimbish is from Connecticut, and every year he hosts a concert (called “Wim-Bash”) at a pub that’s literally just three miles or so from where I live… I’d see the flyers for the shows, but I never really knew that much about his musical career before reading this post. Thanks!

  2. Haralambos says:

    try it now…I screwed up the link.

  3. Hardcore Sex Videos says:

    Oh its also worth mentioning that the Beasties used this riff in Shadrach on the Pauls Boutique LP. Do you know who else plays at these annual Wim-bashes?

  4. Living Colour played at the 2007 Wim-Bash (a couple of months ago), of course; I don’t know much about what other bands have played there, but a YouTube search shows a whole bunch of results:

  5. Hlgmjmri says:

    Here’s one in particular that might interest you, from the 2006 Wim-Bash:

    Doug Wimbish and the original Sugar Hill rhythm section, “Trance”

  6. Ilias says:

    One for the treble, two for the bass….

    Kickin it old school as I peruse our monthly results this a.m.

    Listening to the JB’s lately and this fits right into that groove… sweet.

  7. Derrick Johnson says:

    With all due respect. The sugarhill house band is a favorite of mind and the sugarhill theme is a fantastic work. I just wanted to ask, Wasn’t Pleasure’s hit single “Glide” also a big part of the Sugarhill theme song.

  8. Jungol says:

    Yeah…I would say Glide by Pleasure is 90% of the Bass Line and music

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