Personnel: George Victory, Johnny King (guitar); Fred Demery (saxophone); Gerry Thomas (trumpet, keyboards); George Williams (trumpet); Bill Curtis (drums); Billy King (percussion).
Recording information: Platinum Factory (1980).
Arrangers: Gerry Thomas; Johnny King ; Bill Curtis.
In 1980, the carefully studio-crafted combination of funk and disco Fatback had been developing on their last few albums paid off with Hot Box, an album that spawned some serious R&B chart hits. The big hit from this long-player was "Gotta Get My Hands on Some (Money)," a song driven by a rock-solid synthesizer bassline and a freewheeling, Parliament-like rap about the singer's need to score some cash to keep his head above water. It further spices up its funky stew with an array of vocal-harmony hooks and squiggly, ear-catching synthesizer flourishes to create one of Fatback's finest hits. The album's other notable success was "Backstrokin'," a tune that layered plenty of saucy double entendres over a combination of elongated synthesizer lines and staccato horns. Sadly, the rest of the album never quite captures the infectious yet carefully controlled energy of these hits: the title track works hard but never builds up the head of steam that would make it come to life and "Come and Get the Love" sports a lovely group harmony hook but suffers from humdrum lyrics that lack a fresh take on its very traditional subject. The song that gets closest to the arresting quality of the singles is "Love Spell," which triumphs over its uninteresting rap-styled lead vocal thanks to a doubled group vocal/synthesizer hook that digs deep into the listener's consciousness and takes hold. Overall, Hot Box is a solid listen for Fatback fans but those interested in the album's hits would probably be better off picking up a copy of The Fattest of Fatback. ~ Donald A. Guarisco