The Fatback Band

Man With the Band

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Man With the Band finds Fatback stylistically treading water: While they are moving closer to the distinctive blend of funk and disco they would perfect on albums like Fired Up and Kickin' and XII, the tracks presented here lack the focus and distinctive hooks that made those albums work. The result is an album that grooves along without ever picking up a lot of steam. The epic title track that kicks off the album represents these problems: While it contains some hypnotic moments where the band's energy merges seamlessly with the song's handful of hooks, it ends up dragging because these magical moments are interspersed with too much aimless jamming. Other tracks are reasonably energetic throughout but lack the distinctive riffs or creative arrangements that would make them notable ("Master Booty" and "Funk Backin'"). There are also a couple of throwaways, the most notable one being "Zodiac Man," which tosses out some silly astrology-inspired lyrics over a repetitive, lightweight groove. Despite these problems, there are some moments that manage to gel in a memorable way: "Mile High" blends high harmony vocals and spacy synthesizer lines to create an engagingly jazzy dance tune and "Midnight Freak" carefully molds its relentless groove into a tight arrangement that makes it a strong mid-tempo jam with a memorably sultry atmosphere. In the end, Man With the Band has enough strong moments to make it a worthwhile purchase for disco fanatics but isn't consistent enough to keep the casual listener interested.

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