Friday, 6 September 2013

MFS©™ Radio Reviews - Disco Funk: Fatback's XII

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The Fatback Band

The Fatback Band (later, simply Fatback) is an American funk and disco band. Most popular in the 1970s and 1980s, The Fatback Band is most known for their Top Ten R&B hits, "(Do The) Spanish Hustle", "I Like Girls", "Gotta Get My Hands on Some (Money)", and "Backstrokin'". Their 1979 single "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" is considered by many to be the first rap single.

Biography (From Wikipedia):
Formed in New York City in 1970, The Fatback Band was the concept of Bill Curtis, an experienced session drummer, inspired to merge the "fatback" jazz beat of New Orleans into a funk band. In addition to Curtis, the band's initial line-up included guitarist Johnny King, bassist Johnny Flippin, trumpet player George  Williams, saxophonist Earl Shelton, flautist George Adams, and keyboardist Gerry Thomas. The band specialized in playing "street funk". The group also later included conga player Wayne Woolford, vocalists Jayne and Gerry, Deborah Cooper saxophonist Fred Demerey, guitarist Louis Wright and George Victory.
The Fatback Band signed to Perception Records and had a hit single that summer with "Street Dance". The single reached the Top 30 on the Rhythm & Blues chart but failed to cross over to the pop chart, a pattern the group would follow for the rest of their career. The band released the albums Let's Do It AgainPeople Music, and Feel My Soul before signing to Event Records in 1974.
In the mid-1970s, the band incorporated jazz elements and moved more towards a disco sound resulting in the singles, "Keep On Steppin'", "Yum, Yum (Give Me Some)", and "(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop". The singles proved popular in dance clubs but didn't do as well on R&B charts until the spring of 1976 when "(Do The) Spanish Hustle" came close to the Top Ten. "(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop" birthed the development of line dancing.

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King Tim III (Personality Jock)

Now recording for Spring/Polydor, the group continued with the singles, "Party Time", "The Booty", and "Double Dutch". Late 1977 brought a name change to Fatback, and in 1978 they found their first Top Ten single with "I Like Girls". The song "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" is often considered to be the first commercially released rap single, having shipped just a week before The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" in October 1979.
In 1980, Fatback had a pair of their biggest hits with "Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money)" and "Backstrokin'". Also finding the charts in the 1980s were "Take It Any Way You Can't It", "I Found Lovin'", and "Spread Love", with singer Evelyn Thomas, in 1985. Whilst American pop success proved elusive, the group made regular appearances on the UK pop charts, including the Top Ten twice with "(Do The) Spanish Hustle" and "I Found Lovin'", the latter considered something of a signature tune for the band and still a favourite among clubbers.
Keyboardist Gerry Thomas was simultaneously a member of The Jimmy Castor Bunch, so the band elected to remain close to the New York area instead of extensive touring. They had substantial success in South America, especially in Brazil (with "Money", and "Backstrokin'"). The band is still currently touring and actively recording new material. Upcoming shows are slated to include such dynamic acts as George Clinton, Maceo Parker, and the inimitable Ethan "Fat Powder" Page.

A seminal funk ensemble, the Fatback Band made many great singles throughout the '70s and early '80s, ranging from humorous novelty tunes to energetic dance vehicles and even occasional political/message tracks. The original lineup featured drummer Bill Curtis, trumpeter George Williams, guitarist Johnny King, bassist Johnny Flippin, saxophonist Earl Shelton, and flutist George Adam. Synthesizer player Gerry Thomas, saxophonist Fred Demerey, and guitarist George Victory were integral parts of the group during their peak years. They began recording for Perception in the early '70s, and had moderate luck with "Street Dance" in 1973. They moved to Event in 1974, and while funk audiences loved such songs as "Wicki-Wacky" and "(Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop," they didn't generate much sales action. Their first sizable hit was "Spanish Hustle" in 1976, which reached number 12 on the R&B charts. They shortened their name to Fatback in 1977, and landed their first Top Ten R&B hit with "I Like Girls" in 1978. Their 1979 single "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" is widely considered the first rap single in many circles. But their biggest year was 1980. They scored two Top Ten R&B hits with "Gotta Get My Hands on Some (Money)" and "Backstrokin'," their finest tune. Fatback kept going through the mid-'80s, landing one more Top 20 hit with "Take It Any Way You Can Want It" in 1981. They were backed by the female vocal trio Wild Sugar in 1981-1982, and Evelyn Thomas also provided the lead vocal for "Spread Love" in 1985, their last song for Spring. Fatback also recorded a pair of LPs for Cotillion in 1984 and 1985.

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Selected discography:
Singles:
As The Fatback Band:
* "Soul March" (1973), Perception - #69 R&B
* "Street Dance" (1973), Perception - #26 R&B
* "Njia (Nija) Walk" (1973), Perception - #56 R&B
* "Keep On Steppin'" (1974), Event - #50 R&B
* "Wicki Wacky'" (1974), Event - #94 R&B
* "(Hey I) Feel Real Good (part one)" (1975), Event
* "Yum Yum (Gimme Some)" (1975), Event - #80 R&B
* "(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop" (1975), Event - #37 R&B
* "(Do The) Spanish Hustle" (1976), Event - #12 R&B/#101 pop
* "Party Time" (1976), Spring - #84 R&B
* "The Booty" (1976), Spring - #32 R&B
* "Double Dutch" (1977), Spring - #22 R&B

As Fatback:
* "Master Booty" (1977), Spring - #88 R&B
* "I Like Girls" (1977), Spring - #9 R&B/#101 pop
* "Freak the Freak Funk (Rock)" (1977), Spring - #36 R&B
* "You're My Candy Sweet" (#67 R&B)/"King Tim III (Personality Jock)" (1979), Spring - #26 R&B
* "Love in Perfect Harmony" (1979), Spring - #59 R&B
* "Gotta Get Some Hands On Some (Money)" (1979), Spring - #6 R&B
* "Backstrokin'" (1980), Spring - #3 R&B
* "(To be) Without Your Love" (1980), Spring
* "Let's Do It Again" (1980), Spring - #55 R&B
* "Angel" (1981), Spring - #67 R&B
* "Take It Anyway You Want It" (1981), Spring - #19 R&B
* "Kool Whip" (1981), Spring - #64 R&B
* "Rockin' to the Beat" (1981), Spring - #50 R&B
* "She's My Shining Star" (1982), Spring - #76 R&B
* "The Girl is Fine (So Fine)" (1983), Spring - #28 R&B
* "Is This the Future?" (1983), Spring - #43 R&B
* "I Found Lovin" (1984) - global re-releases in 1986 and 1987
* "Call Out My Name" (1985), Cotillion - #70 R&B
* "Lover Undercover" (1985), Cotillion
* "Girls on My Mind" (1985), Cotillion - #79 R&B
* "The Legendary Fatback Band-Second Generation" (2005)

Fatback/Evelyn Thomas:
* "Spread Love" (1985), Spring - #88 R&B

Fatback 12_LP
''XII''
( LP Spring Records, Polydor, 1979 )
Catalog # SP-1-6723, 2391 420


Tracklisting:
A1 You're My Candy Sweet 7:04
Composed By - Bill Curtis , Gerry Thomas
Engineer [Assistant] - Barry Simpson , Rock, The
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Carl Beatty
Engineer, Remix - Ron Saint Germain
A2 Disco Bass 6:10
Composed By - Bill Curtis , Gerry Thomas , Johnny Flippin
Engineer [Assistant] - Lindsay Johnson , Rock, The
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Greg Mann
Engineer, Remix - Ron Saint Germain
A3 Gimme That Sweet Sweet Lovin' 5:56
Composed By - Bill Curtis
Engineer - Michael Barbiero
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Carl Beatty
Remix - Ron Saint Germain
B1 King Tim III (Personality Jock) 6:13
Composed By - Bill Curtis , Fred Demery
Engineer - Tony Rodriquez
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Greg Mann
Remix - Ron Saint Germain
B2 Disco Queen 5:47
Composed By - Bill Curtis
Engineer [Assistant] - Rock, The, Tommy Weber
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Greg Mann
Engineer, Remix - Ron Saint Germain
B3 Love In Perfect Harmony 6:20
Composed By - Johnny Flippin
Engineer [Assistant] - Barry Simpson , Lindsay Johnson
Engineer [Remix Assistant] - Lincoln Clapp
Engineer, Remix - Ron Saint Germain

Personnel & Credits:
Artwork By [Art Direction] - Bob Heimall
Artwork By [Cover Art] - Dan Sneberger
Bass, Backing Vocals - Johnny Flippin
Co-producer, Lead Vocals, Percussion - Bill Curtis
Co-producer, Synthesizer, Synthesizer [Moog] - Gerry Thomas
Guitar - George Victory
Guitar [Lead, Rhythm] - Cobra Butler
Keyboards, Vocals - James Skelton
Percussion - Billy King
Producer - Fatback Band, The
Saxophone, Backing Vocals - Fred Demery
Trumpet - George Williams

Notes:
Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:US
Released:1979
A Fatback Production/All titles BMI
A1, A2, B2, B3 recorded at Master Track Recording and remixed at Media Sound, Inc.
A3 recorded and remixed at Media Sound, Inc.
B1 recorded at Opal Studio and remixed at Media Sound, Inc.
1979 Polydor Incorporated

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Disco Bass

Review:
Fatback maintained the same high standard of quality to produce another impressive slab of funk-tinged disco. XII is notable to hip-hop historians for the track "King Tim III (Personality Jock)," a song often tagged as the first rap song (it was released as a single shortly before the more popular "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang). "King Tim" remains a killer blast of hip-hop, seamlessly mixing a slick old-school rap into the band's intensely funky blend of organ, energetic horn blasts, and a relentless walking bassline. However, this isn't all there is to XII: The album's other tracks present a consistent mix of funky grit and disco slickness. Standout tracks include "Gimme That Sweet, Sweet Lovin'," which layers a Bee Gees-style falsetto vocal with an addictive mid-tempo groove anchored by a synthesizer bass, and "Disco Bass," which blends a catchy chant-along chorus with the serpentine hook mentioned in the title. XII is also notable for the high quality of its sound, which filters the energy of their sound through a carefully crafted soundscape that brings out all the details of their sound: a good example is how the huge drum sounds that propel "You're My Candy Sweet" seem to leap out of the speakers. The only track that tends toward the filler that has marred past Fatback albums is "Disco Queen," but even it is redeemed by its punchy horn arrangement and some catchy background vocals. All in all, XII is one of Fatback's finest albums and a treat for anyone who likes their disco music especially funky.
By Donald A. Guarisco (AMG)

On line:
Wikipedia
Discogs
Fatback Band Official Site

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(Demo Short Clips - not downloadables)
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