Recording information: Media Sound, Copenhagen, Denmark (1975).
Arrangers: Richard Cromwell; Gerry Thomas; Bill Curtis.
Fatback's second album of 1975 is a serious improvement over Yum Yum: the arrangements are tighter, the hooks are stronger, and the grooves keep the listener riveted from start to finish. It downplays the live feel of previous albums like Keep on Steppin' in favor of a more carefully arranged feel that highlights the tasty keyboard and synthesizer work of Gerry Thomas. Raising Hell also produced two major hits for the group: "(Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop" capitalizes on the dance craze of the title with a steady bass-driven groove that works in layers of keyboards, guitars, and horns to keep things interesting, and "Spanish Hustle" is a propulsive dance jam that alternates synthesizer flights of fancy with intense Latin percussion breaks guaranteed to make the listeners shake their hips. The album tracks that back up these singles don't make their presence felt as strongly, but none ever descend to the level of filler: "Groovy Kind of Day" alternates smooth harmony vocals with jazzy electric-piano riffs to create a smooth mid-tempo track and the group's cover of the Four Tops' classic "I Can't Help Myself" is cleverly re-arranged to fit Fatback's dancefloor format . The result is a fine collection of funky dance music that helped Fatback solidify their reputation as one of New York's foremost disco groups. It remains just as listenable and is worth a spin for disco and funk fans alike. ~ Donald A. Guarisco