Handpicked by the Fatback DJs:
In honor of our 4 year anniversary party coming up on the 21st, BYT is letting us share our top 40 favorite, sweat nastiest jams of the year. The songs that we loved playing out cause they got us and the crowd burning rubber. We’ve compiled, tabulated and ranked em, so count them down with us. Last year we stared the tradition of counting down our top 30 jams as we approach our yearly anniversary party. It was so much fun that we are bumping the number up to 40 for 2011.
All to say we are getting pumped for our birthday partay at Liv / Bohemian Caverns on Saturday January 21. If you’ve been coming for a while, you’ve heard ‘em. If you came late, you might have missed ‘em. Have a listen…
We start off the Top 40 Jams countdown with a slow burner. A track that works just as well for starting the night as taking it to the next level late, late, late, after the dancers are lost deep in the groove. What’s the secret of this of all around monster jam?
Let’s just say that if you made a reduction sauce of all funk records ever recorded and looked into the cauldron at the end, somewhere under the bass guitar and the fur coats and the Cheech Wizard hat, way down at the bottom you would find the most disgusting funk imaginable. It would be heavy and sticky and smell worse than a surfeit of skunks raised on a diet of spoiled eggs, Kimchi and beans. It would be Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic. A psychedelic ode to the dangers of a love powerful enough to kill, yet totally irresistible. All the lovers in the house can relate, I’m sure.
At the 3:20 mark when most songs have completed their intro, build up, break down, bridge, choirs, fadeout, what have you… is when this track just starts to deliver. At 7:14, long after the kids have gone bed shit gets real and that’s before Mr. Hayes takes you “there” at 8:03. What we have here is nothing less than unbridled creative freedom and the power it has to move you. In fact the only problem with this song is that it ends.
Willie Bobo’s 1978 cover of Ronnie Laws’ 1975 hit Always There is the kind of track DJs love because it’s long and perfect from the first attack to the “end”. I say “end” because it has an end but not an ending. It is the kind of track the builds and peaks but doesn’t let up. The end is like a runner passing the baton to the next record. Gone is the jazzy pre-Kenny G smooth saxophone breakdown and in its place is a fast Latin attack with tons of breaks and horns that drive the whole rather than walking around and Bogarting the center. Another thing about this song that I love, in 1976 Side Effect wrote words to this instrumental for their disco version! I have to say they really nailed it. “Locked in your prison of total ecstasy … Yeah.”
Hailing from Florida with a degree in sociology, Jimmy “Bo” Horne quit his day job to pursue the musical demons that had plagued him since childhood. Working with such talents as Little Beaver, Clarence Reid, and Henry Stone, Jimmy caught early success with his soul records – but it was after he somewhat half-heatedly crossed over to disco that his career caught fire – recording hits like Dance Across the Floor, Spank, and Get Happy.
We love Jimmy because his tracks have that unique positive vibe that can make you dance AND put a big smile on your face. Check out Gimme Some, penned by Harry Wayne Casey (KC) and Richard Finch of the Sunshine Band and featured on one of our early fatback mixes.
Hot Damn! That’s a floor burner for you right there – raw percussion with that melodic piano punching out latin rhythms. Welcome to the Party has been a Fatback DJ fav for a while. Not a regular track, but one pulled out on special occasions for sure. I remember hearing it at the 9:30 club Very Big Fatback party and our New Years space odyssey back in 2010. A bit about the album:
“The Har-You Percussion Group’s self-titled album stands as a testament to how exciting and profound music education can be for kids. Imagine creating this album as your homework assignment. That’s just what these eleven 16- to 19-year-old boys did under the guidance of Jamaican-born percussionist Montegro Joe. Latin, Cuban, jazz, and blues influences combine to create their boogie-down melting pot of rhythm that keeps the feet moving.” (via Oufar Khan)
Download Har-You Percussion Group – Welcome to the Party
In a nod to the “Around the Globe” of Fatback’s mantra (Funk, Soul, Boogaloo and More from around the Gobe), we take you on a folkloric musical tour of Northeastern Brazil. Coco Raizes do Arcoverd has its roots in the large African population and influence of the Pernambuco state of Brazil.
This track makes it hard to stand still as the rhythm gets deep into your core and makes you shake all appendages with reckless abandon in the direction of Brazil.
And, if the original does not have enough acai-infused octane to get yo-ass-up-out-dat-chair, try the Reggaton-inspired remix by Tumi.
There are few songs that better reflect the sound and feel of the disco era than “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. The track, originally performed as a soul classic by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, got a serious disco infusion by Thelma Houston with her new arrangement of the song in 1977. Houston’s version went to number one on the disco chart, and has since moved many a Fatback dance floors.
Thelma Houston, we (disco) salute you.
Full Disclosure: I didn’t even get to play this song at Fatback this year, but it is one of my favorite musical discoveries of 2011 nonetheless. It was delivered to my consciousness via a friend’s satellite radio and I dang near blew a gasket (and a seat belt) in outrageous funk ecstasy. The song absolutely demanded to be played as the highlight of my Fatback set later that month. And you can hear exactly why… A rolling faux Native American drumbeat, sleigh bells, guitar licks dripping with funky effects all burbling beneath lyrics about world peace (and/or “Mary Jane”), and Barbara Wood of Brooklyn Trucking Express leading the instructions. And so it was that KCizzle, Master of All Things Funkulous, dropped it in the first set of that hot August night to my simultaneous horror and delight. It’s one of the strange joys of being part of this Funky Mid Atlantic Hydra (Grooveri Perspiratorum), where seven heads are better than one. See, KC and I both know, that between “Peace Pipe” and little Pineapple Express, there isn’t a conflict on the planet that can’t be resolved with a little sweat, focused gyration…. and maybe some Cheetos.
We’re all friends here right? Can I share one of my deepest personal challenges with you? Great. I have a serious problem with soul covers of rock songs (SCORS). They feed the conspiracy of little devils on both of my shoulders and they feel so darn GOOD when you play/dance to/sing with ‘em! I’m helpless and I don’t want no help!
Lea Roberts’ take on Free’s All Right Now is one for which I have a particular weakness. It’s a rare cut, but for no good reason, cuz it’s everything you want in SCOR! Guitars ablazin’, a rompin’ stompin’ kinda beat, and lyrics that every partygoer can make his/her own expertly belted into the rafters by a scorching singer.
You just try and keep your seat… The rest of us are gonna SCOR!!
After a successful run on Broadway, “The Wiz” was adapted for film in 1978. It starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and others and the soundtrack was catchy and fun, but for the most part, not Fatback material. “Ease on Down the Road” is the exception and it’s about as joyous music gets. Try watching the clip above (featuring a fine-ass Michael in his prime) without smiling.
“Harmony” is a hard driving synth-heavy disco JAM of the first order. Suzi Lane’s angelic voice alternately floats above it all and gets down and dirty, driving the beat from behind. The song was produced by Giorgio Moroder. The guy is a bona fide badass. In addition to producing for every real-deal musical genius on the planet (Bowie, Zeppelin, Queen, Donna Summer, etc…) he also produced the score for one of my favorite movies – “Cat People” (1982). Watch it…it’s creepy and sexy and everything good about the 80’s.