Fatback Band – Njia Walk (Street Walk)

4th December 2023 · 1970s, 1973, Funk, Music

When I think of funk, this is the sound I hear in my head. The fat bass (is that the “phat” bass?), the hissing hi-hats, the waka-waka guitar licks, the muffled exhortations of the vocalist… put it all together and that’s The Fatback Band.

I only recently came across this number when Craig Charles played it on his Funk & Soul Show – my appointment listening on 6Music every Saturday evening.

It’s the perfect example of the sound drummer Bill Curtis was going for when he formed the group in New York in 1970 to incorporate the “fatback” jazz beat of New Orleans in a funk band.

I don’t think I heard them at all growing up: their biggest hit was I Found Lovin’ in 1987, though their heyday was more than a decade earlier.

They certainly enjoyed song titles with parentheses, looking at their singles: Yum Yum (Gimme Some), (Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop, Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money) and (Do The) Spanish Hustle.

Then there’s the oddly titled 1979 single King Tim III (Personality Jock) – the first commercially released hip-hop single.

But this comes from their second album, People’s Music, released in 1973, showcasing their style at the time, combining the horn-driven soul of Stax with the tight groove of James Brown’s early-’70s band The JB’s, though you can also hear the building blocks of disco in this number.