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Prince Fatty is a group put together by producer and engineer Mike Pelanconi, (whose recent credits include Lilly Allen's smash Alright Still for Regal/EMI and Little Barrie Stand your Ground for Genuine/PIAS) for the purpose of recording a limited-edition single for Stussy to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Ninas Dance became an underground smash, enjoying multiple plays on Radio 1, and by popular demand Mr Bongo secured Fatty's recording services for the follow up album titled Survival of the Fattest .
Prince Fatty sound is designed to dub your feet with Rock Steady beats and stimulate brain waves in a jazz-like way... delivered in an up-beat, positive and organic funk fashion. Mixed in an analog haze of vintage spring reverbs, tape echoes and custom hi-grade mixing console, Prince Fatty won t disappoint the lovers of the early 70s sound. Prince Fatty is champion in the Dub Arena.
With a guest line-up that includes legendary drummer Style Scott from the Roots Radics, hammond organ by Bubblers from the infamous Ruff Cut Band, Afrobeat star Bukky Leo on sax with the Nostalgia 77 Horn Section and with special guest vocals from Little Roy, Winston Francis and Hollie Cook, the new vocalist for the band The Slits . Little Roy has worked with such reggae greats as Jackie Mittoo, Prince Buster, Lloyd Matador Daley, Lee Scratch Perry and Studio One, He enjoyed hits with Bongo Nyah , Black Bird" and Tribal War. Winston Francis, is the prodigy of Chuck Bird, the great impresario, writer and performer. Winston went on to work with Carlos Malcolm, Derrick, Harriott and Boris Gardiner and recorded at Coxson's infamous Studio One in Jamaica, collaborating with foremost reggae artists including Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and Bob Andy amongst others. He enjoyed success with Mr Fix It and his cover of the Mamas and the Papas' classic California Dreamin' which was Tony Blackburn's Hit Pick of the Week on Radio One for two weeks straight.
Not many reggae groups owe their genesis to a fashion brand. Then again, Prince Fatty is not your average reggae group. The brainchild of producer and engineer, Mike Pelanconi (the man behind the desk for Lily Allen's Alright Still), they formed to celebrate Stussy's 25th anniversary and, having gauged an interest in their summery heritage-conscious music, decided to stick around.
The default setting for their album Survival Of The Fattest is major key dub-infused 70s style reggae not unlike London Soul-Reggae outfit Pama International - which means lots of jazzy guitar chords, swirling organs and lashings of solo trombone. Anyone put off by Pelanconi's pop credentials should check some of the guest names in the line up: Roots Radics' drummer Style Scott is present, so is Bubblers from the Ruff Cut Band, as are vocalists Winston Francis and the legendary Little Roy.
Most of the tracks keep to the above remit, but when the Fatties go off-script, the results impress. ''Big Man Cry'' boasts a mid-70s snare tapping drumbeat, ''Mr Freeze'' goes further by adding some militant kick, while the distinctly British sounding ''Milk And Honey'' (featuring a wonderfully lazy vocal by Hollie Cook) calls to mind the work of Dennis Bovell and is by far the strongest track on the disc.
The only major gripe is it's all so completely backwards looking, when artists like Lutan Fyah and Alborosie can combine old school sensibility with a modern approach. On the other hand, there is a clear gap in the market for this stuff, and while an exercise in pure nostalgia, it is not trying to be anything else.
Authentic sounding yet shamelessly retro, Survival Of The Fattest has serious designs on being the soundtrack to your summer. So if you thought it all started to go wrong around 1978, this is the album for you. --Angus Taylor
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