The Fatback Band

People's Music

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Following up on its first successful R&B single, "Street Dance," the Fatback Band released 1973's People Music (their second album on the Perception label). While it doesn't include any hits or even near misses, it does have a nice mix of the group's signature, in-the-pocket funk-jazz jams. Combining the horn-driven soul of Stax with the tight groove of the JB's (James Brown's early-'70s band), the band works through nine mostly solid tracks. The influence of the JB's is readily heard on the fast-paced "Fatbackin'" and "Kiba," while premonitions of the coming disco era are evident on bumpin' cuts like "Nija Walk" and "Soul March." Supplying contrast to these instrumentals, the band indulges in a few vocal cuts with various band members taking the mike; although the after-hours jazz and flutes cut "To Be With You" includes a regrettable vocal turn by bassist Johnny Flippin, guitarist Johnny King's pleading and vulnerable performance on "Baby Doll" does comes off nicely. And rounding out the group's impressive roster are other original members like tenor saxophonist George Adams, trumpeter George Williams, and drummer Bill Curtis. People Music is an enjoyable disc, but newcomers might want to check out one of the band's greatest hits packages first.

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