Following an album such as XII was probably fairly difficult,considering it contained what is commonly considered hip-hops first fully realized recorded track "King Tim III) but the band followed it up with gusto. Having seen it all in terms of funk from the early days of the genre up through the disco era Fatback found themselves in the same basic place that most funk bands found themselves during the first couple of years of the 80's;if they had experimented with any style of rhythm that had anything to do with disco (which Fatback certainly had) they were chastised by the period known to some as the "disco freezeout" in which funk of any sort was again a bad word. So this album falls in line in that key place where funk was still in an awkward place commercially and hip-hop certainly hadn't become the popular music in society that it is today so in the end Fatback created an excellent album still in their late 70's style production more or less.
Despite the fact the album is still rooted in the sound of their last three releases basically this album is a very bright and lively release. The horn fueled,melodic and heavily vocally harmonized title song recalls some of the best of Philly Soul combined with a strong dose of NYC funk,which makes for an excellent combination and a great way to start the album. There is one jazzy soul ballad written,arranged and sung by Johnny King and it showcases for any doubters how well this band could work a slower number,especially with their strong and often jazz inspired musicianship. With it's stomping,bass synth puncuated production and comically growling/falsetto lyrics "Love Spell" is another strong highlite,featuring a sound that worked very well several years earlier on his classic Reach for It. "Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money)" features a new appearance by King Tim III finding itself in a latter 70's style fast paced P-Funk sort of groove,again with prominant bass synths.
Of course the one track that really baught people into this (including myself) was "Backstrokin'",a very catchy and well crafted slice of late 70's/early 80's synth funk with prominant horns making it just the sort of classic funk track hip hoppers loved to sample. And thats important since Fatback were part of funk's early cross appropriation of hip-hop much the same as Sugarhill's Positive Force-only this band having had a far longer life. The album concludes with the funk/early 50's style jump blues-R&B shuffle of "Street Band",something of a retro soul piece of it's day and I suppose the equivilant of what neo soulers do now with music from this era-incorperating an older sound with a more contemporary instrumentation and production. This is not only a strong,funky and very singable album but also very historic in terms of how it brings the music's influences,both past and present and uses them as a means of anticipating the music's future.