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Hustle! The Ultimate Fatback 1969-84, CD (£12.14)
I'm standing at the Jazz Caf?©, a little tired from the week's exertions and wondering if I could possibly get a good night's sleep and feel better. The place is rammed and the drums are being hit slowly and deliberately by the man behind the kit. It is a calling to attention of the audience and a welcome to the stage of the band: the Fatback Band. The man behind the drums is Bill Curtis, the founder member and leader of Fatback throughout 35 years of its history. At 72 he should by all rights be enjoying a quiet retirement in Carolina, but instead he's here keeping his distinct tight funky beat. By the end of the first couple of numbers my tiredness is just a memory and I have been bouyed by the sheer electricity of the Fatback performance.
Now clearly after 35 years the Fatback have built up quite a catalogue, and in their latest tour of the UK they were seen by quite a lot of people-.-so if you were for instance one of those people who saw them play at Glastonbury this year and wanted to pick up a fine selection of their hits, or possibly those tracks that you have heard that have been sampled by, amongst others, the Beastie Boys, Groove Armada or maybe Bjork, where would be a good place to start? Well may we humbly suggest this fine compilation? 31 of Fatback's best numbers split across two CDs, one featuring their biggest hits and the other those more familiar in recent years as samples and floor-fillers in discerning clubs the world over.
So what are these hits I hear you ask? Well there's a lot of them, 14 in the UK and over 30 in the States. So for a start there is the phenomenal I Found Loving, such a big hit in the UK in the 80s that it hit the charts three times in the 80s, twice by Fatback and once by DJ Steve Walsh. Then there is the all-time disco classics Bus Stop and Spanish Hustle, and their big US hits Gotta Get My Hands On Some Money and Double Dutch, and just to top that all of they recorded the first rap record in King Tim III (Personality Jock).
But at the heart of it all the Fatback Band were a funk group, with an ability to play honed to perfection in clubs and at dances. So CD Two shows us where they were at with that stuff, from their earliest singles - the $1000 Peace Love Not War - through the rare groove classic of Dance Girl, onto the pure Fatback funk of Wicki-Wacky or the much sample Got To Learn How To Dance. Trivia fans may be interested to know that the sound of Bill's drums on Wicki-Wacky was a major influence on the reggae rhythm section of Sly and Robbie's distinctive sound.
So I'm not really sure what you're waiting for: you may have caught them live this time, or on one of their previous visits. Indeed you may never have seen them in your life. However you know what they sound like and this is their best music together in one place. Go on treat yourself, you know you're ready.
By Dean Rudland