The Fatback Band - 1974 – Keep On Steppin’
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The Fatback Band’s career started in the early 70s and lasted well into the late 80s. While they enjoyed a modicum of success, it was never on the same level as similar party funk bands like Kool and the Gang. Their first four albums are touted by funk lovers as essential classics including this one from 1974.
It gets an honorable mention over the others thanks to the ultimate dance floor butt wiggler “Wicky Wacky“. There’s other heat on here as well including the opener “Mister Bass Man“, the block party jam “New York Style“, and the soulful ballad “Love“. The Fatback Band would venture into disco territory and then 80s electro funk where they would enjoy a few charting singles.
A1 Mr. Bass Man 3:22
A2 Stuff 5:00
A3 New York Style 5:29
A4 Love 3:43
A5 Can’t Fight the Flame 3:09
B1 Wicki Wacky 3:20
B2 Feeling 2:53
B3 Keep on Steppin’ 4:21
B4 Breaking Up Is Hard to Do 3:39
Review by Soulmakossa
Although they’d reach their commercial peak in the early ’80s, The Fatback Band was a cult phenomenon on the East Coast during its ‘hard funk’ years in the early- to mid-’70s.
Led by the incredibly funky drummer Bill ‘Fatback’ Curtis, this 1974 release features the band at its rawest and funkiest. As such, it’s the perfect follow-up to their ‘People Music‘ album released the year before.
Thick, throbbing funk sums up this waxing, with absolute groove highlights on “Mr. Bass Man” (a deliciously slow-cruisin’ rhtyhm bonanza), the hard socking title-track and the LP’s unsung hero, “Feeling“, a thumpasauric bass-adventure that should have gone on for at least several more minutes.
Best known for their brand of ‘street funk’, there’s plenty of that here as well: the playful, incessant “Stuff” rides a persisting guitar lick while Curtis implores everybody to ‘git on up and do it’.
“New York Style” features more of that ‘uncut’ party down funk; Curtis affirms his North-Carolina roots on this stutter steppin’ funk gem, after which the whole band gets down at a Big Apple Saturday Fish Fry… Swamp funk in the middle of NY, dig it… More of that pumping funk madness comes with the Sly Stone-esque “Wicki Wacky” (more gurgling bass loops here courtesy of Johnny Flippin), featuring brilliant scat-like vocalizing while the groove goes up, down, back up again and deep down in the pocket…
Ballads and love songs never were Fatback’s forte, and while still mildly funky, the romantically tinged “Love” and “Breaking Up With Somebody You Love” aren’t as essential as the tour de force of vicious street funk on display here.
Essential funk ether.