DEL compiles a selection of the essential songs from Fatback: the last of the great dance bands.

Related: Foundations: Fatback/The Fatback Band


Backstrokin’
’80; #53 Dance-Disco/#3 R&B charts – Four beats in and everyone is on the dancefloor… lookin’ for that good stuff and then eventually… tightening up on their backstroke! A classic that does it today with any crowd. Fatback was always hysterical with their double entendre-laden vocals, in a fun and not misogynistic way. On the steamy side of sampling, both Mike Dunn presents Mr. 69’s “Phreaky MF” and Stacey Kidd’s “Freaky Mother Fucker” both use “Backstrokin'” as a chord lead – don’t play these with kids or grandparents around. Also sampled by KAM and Above the Law in the ’90s. Ron’s Re-edit strips back some of the vocals and works that bass line to good effect.

 


I Like Girls
’78; #9 R&B/#101 Pop charts – Of course we do! Fatback definitely did & this is one of their odes to their favorite summer activity: “girl-watchin'”… and they don’t discriminate as the vocal track clearly delineates. Most memorable is the bass line – simple yet unforgettable. A classic that never disappoints.

 


Spanish Hustle
’75; #5 Dance-Disco/#12 R&B/#101 Pop charts – An important song in dance music history, with “Spanish Hustle” Fatback was forging into and paving the way for disco and the NYC sound. The muted trumpet and congas always work me to the bone. For a proper remix, try the always-masterful Danny Krivit’s Mr. K Edit.

 


Night Fever
’76; #28 Dance-Disco chart
Pure disco, t was the title track from their seventh album. Not much on the vocal side but great instrumentation especially the horns that have a “Spanish Hustle-like” feel to me. Note – this is NOT a Bee Gee cover.

 


Yum, Yum (Gimme Some)
’75; #80 R&B chart – Pure funk groove that is unrelenting! The title hook will have you chanting, as your hips never stop movin’!

 


Street Dance
’73; #26 R&B chart – Good old fashioned street party record with improv-sounding percussion, horns & yells, chants & ranting. This type of feel is at the core of Fatback’s self-proclaimed “street funk” – organic & real! If this doesn’t make you smile, dance, and feel good – you’re dead!

 


(Are You Ready) To Do the Bus Stop
’75; #15 Dance-Disco/#35 R&B charts – This one screams classic ’70s funk in the very best ways. It has all the brass and keys you want laid on top of a cozy carpeting of funky bass. I’m transported to a Soul Train line as this was one of those songs that became a dance (if you don’t understand, Google it!) I remember having a conversation with Joey Negro and he said that this was his favorite funk song… some street (funk) cred right there!

 


Take It Any Way You Want It
’81; #19 R&B chart – Sophisticated funk that was one of their bigger hits in their post “The Fatback Band” era. Super break and musicality that was always their signature.

 


The Joint (You and Me)
’76; uncharted – A sleeper that really exhibits Fatback’s ability to combine funk and disco in a way that has staying power to the present. Smooth yet ballsy, it is a gem you have to listen and dance to!

 


Wicky-Wacky
’75; #94 R&B chart – “Where the party people?” Right here listening/dancing to this scat-laden disco-funk jam. Definitely a raw feel with the classic “homage” by Fatback to “the girl”. Tribe Called Quest sampled this on “Show Business”.

 


The Girl Is Fine (So Fine)
’83; #47 Dance-Disco chart – She is and this electro-boogie-funk goodie is too!

 


King Tim III (Personality Jock)
’79; #62 Dance-Disco/#26 R&B charts – Could have been #1 on my list just in terms of its place in history & influence. One of the first rap records -even before Sugarhill Gang (by a week or so)! Originally the rap element was just intended to add some kick to Fatback’s live shows. Then the live vibe and feedback caused them to add Kim Tim III’s rap to a song initially called “Catch the Beat” and the rest is a little-known bit of history! While this was originally a B Side, dancers and DJs loved it, sales followed, and Hip Hop became commercially viable! The upbeat Funk track and cool background chorus supplies the perfect canvas for Tim Washington’s classic OG rhymes. King Tim III was the MC for a Harlem crew composed of DJ Mac Love and DJ Prince.