The Fatback Band

Is This the Future?

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Fatback was always well aware of where the future lay. Keeping their eyes and their funk firmly on the pulse of R&B, Fatback (aka Fatback Band) took their audiences on a two-decade journey of perpetual evolution, wrapping their roots in psychedelic R&B, pop, soul, disco, and on into hip-hop, as that genre was formulated as well. By 1983, the musical pulse was firmly in the hands of the new wave -- both in soul and pop. Michael Jackson, Prince, and Cameo ruled the R&B roost, while a thousand bubblegum wannabes beat at the door behind them. Fatback absorbed all this excitement, and once again proved that they could match anyone. Is This the Future? is eminently danceable, light funk infused with synthesizers and '80s bass to create a vital brew. Fatback recorded one of the first rap records in 1979, and they repeat the form here. This time, Gerry Bledsoe takes the mic, with a DJ rap through the title track which gives the band a Top 50 R&B hit. "Spread Love," meanwhile, was a strong, effusive slab of danceable pop -- and, alongside "The Girl Is Fine (So Fine)" and "Up Against the Wall," really kept the pace flowing. In fact, only " "Funky Aerobics (Body Movement)" really lets the side down, a weak presentation of not very well-placed sexual innuendo, and little more than wasted space. On the whole, Is This the Future succeeds. It's not the driving funk of earlier renown -- in places, it's not even really that funky, and was never intended to be so. It is, however, extremely entertaining, infused with bright energy and further evidence of just what remarkable chameleons Fatback were -- changing with the musical tide while keeping their essence intact.

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