Authentic sounding yet shamelessly retro...
Angus Taylor 2007
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.