Most Wanted! The Fatback Band – Spanish Hustle (12″ Mix) (Polydor)
“Do the Spanish Hustle!” Just like War (‘Cinco De Mayo’), The LTG Exchange (‘Waterbed’) or Kool & The Gang (remember their spanish version of ‘Celebrate’), The Fatback Band happened to flirt with Latin and Jazz/Funk vibes. Thus showing their obvious versatility along with time. Besides, I wouldn’t be too surprised being reported ‘Spanish Hustle’ more or less inspired T-Connection‘s ‘Do What You Wanna Do’. And by that, I mean in terms of concept…
Written and arranged by Gerry Thomas, ‘Spanish Hustle’ is one of the greatest classics by the likes of Fatback. And also one of the highlights of their 1975 ‘Raising Hell’ album. Along with extra gems such as ‘(Are You Ready?) Do The Bust Stop’ and ‘Party Time’. A cut which the Original Tropicana Steel Band eventually covered three years after. This as a part of their ‘Hot Steel’ album.
Last but not least, ‘Spanish Hustle’ obviously influenced The Funky Worm who brilliantly incoporated some elements of it on their firing ‘Hustle (To The Music)’ back in 1989.
The brainchild of session drummer Bill Curtis, The Fatback Band (later simply known as Fatback) saw the light back in 1970 in the Big Apple. This with the aim to craft a new groove by merging New Orleans “fatback” Jazz beat with vivid West Indie and Caribbean rhythms. In other words, a new approach / sound / perspective that eventually served as the basis for the first Disco gems.
Strangely enough, Curtis‘s goal wasn’t to give birth to a group. But more of launching a production company. Then sign artists to record with his selection of musicians. I guess he made the right choice when deciding to do things by himself and come up with a banner that would serve as a home to his musicians.
Signing with Perception Records, it wasn’t long before they started makin’ themselves a name with some of the most infectious gems one may think of. Beginning with ‘Goin’ To See My Baby’, from their 1972 ‘Let’s Do It Again’ debut-album. As for ‘Njia Walk (Street Walk)’ – from their 1973 ‘People Music’ album – it reached the Top 30 on the US Billboard R&B chart. Although it failed to cross over to the Pop chart. Like almost everything they ever put out, as strange as this may seem.
Switching to Event Records inc. in 1974, they delivered another goodie by the likes of ‘Wicky-Wacky’. Then ‘Yum Yum (Gimme Some)’ the year after. But also ‘(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop’ and ‘Spanish Hustle’, from their ‘Raising Hell’ album. This before opening a long time relationship with Spring Records.
Shortening their name to Fatback in 1977, the group got their first Top 10 single with ‘I Like Girls’. Meanwhile ‘King Tim III (Personality)’ stands to many as the first Rap commercial release. Hitting the streets one week before Sugarhill Gang‘s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ as a matter of fact.
Fatback pretty much redefined themselves once again back in 1980. This with the memorable ‘Backstrokin” while eventually flirting with P-Funk. And most definitely spoiling the Funk music lovers with an impressive series of killer gems. From ‘Take It Anyway You Want’ to ‘I Found Lovin”. But also ‘Is This The Future?’ which, ironically, marked the end of their liaison with Spring Records.
Signing with Cotillion Records, they released two albums which failed to generate the same attention.
By 2004, Johnny King & The Fatback Band‘s ‘Peace, Love, Not War’ saw the light on Kenny Dope‘s Kay-Dee Records, with remix courtesy of the latter. Meanwhile The Fatback Band shared the bill the year after with Bah Samba on ‘Let The Drums Speak’.