Fatboy Slim
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Better Living Through Chemistry , 7/10
You've Come a Long Way Baby , 7/10
Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars , 5/10
Palookaville (2004), 3/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Fatboy Slim is the project of Norman Cook, who used to play bass in Housemartins. Discovered by the Chemical Brothers at the end of the 1980s, Cook suddenly became a protagonist of the dance scene under the monickers Beats International (of Dub Be Good To Me fame), Mighty Dub Kats, Pizzaman and Freakpower. But it was under the new monicker Fatboy Slim that Cook came to be recognized as one of the innovators of house music. He started manufacturing singles that were weird collages of heterogeneous sounds (and even noises) set to dance beats and fragmented into jerky segments. Better Living Through Chemistry (Skint, 1996), that collects the early singles, reveals his broad musical roots, spanning and sampling rock (Going Out Of My Head, that steals the guitar riff from the Who's I Can't Explain), funk (Everybody Needs a 303), Latin (Punk To Funk), jazz and hip hop. The production is always inventive and unpredictable. The novelty of Santa Cruz (his first hit from 1995) was that it managed to create and ambience out of a looping guitar riff drenched into electronic winds. The propulsive Song For Lindy peaks when staccato piano notes interact with the tribal percussions. Everybody Needs a 303 uses only electronic percussion to accelerate dramatically into a frantic Brazilian dance. Give the Po' Man A Break is state of the art in the way it blends straightforward pounding sections and syncopated crescendos. 10th & Crenshaw seems to simulate a dialogue between petulant electronic "voices". First Down, rich in both funk and jazz overtones, is a fibrillating missile of electronic counterpoint fueled by loops of saxophone and drums. Michael Jackson is the most eccentric piece, a layered tribal orgy built out of vocal samples, riffs, noises and loops.

You've Come a Long Way Baby (Astralwerks, 1998) is not particularly original, just better produced. By the standards of the previous album, the Eastern-sounding hip-hop march of Right Here Right Now and the dynamite garage-rock of Soul Surfing are pompous and magniloquent. Gangster Trippin', a hip-hop with Caribbean overtones framed between horns-driven rhythm'n'blues fragments, the hypnotic, driving, no-nonsense Build It Up, the conventional pounding Love Island keep the dancefloor shaking. Last but not least, the epic piano refrain of Praise You (possibly his masterpiece) dives into languid soul (vocal part) and tribal acid-rock jamming (instrumental part).
The most spectacular number, Rockafeller Skank, mixes rock'n'roll rhythm, Duan Eddy twang guitar, sardonic garage-rock vocals. Then it decays into a hip-hop shuffle and then it picks up rock speed again, launching in a final guitar-driven rave-up.

Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars (Astralwerks, 2000) is a mere repetition of Fatboy Slim's stereotypes. Whether tackling soul (Demons and Love Life, with Macy Gray on vocals), disco-music (Retox), dub (Song For Shelter) or funk (Talkin' About My Baby), he merely reenacts his own career. The fun is gone and the time for nostalgic reminescing has come. This album bridges the young party animal of Star 69 and Weapon Of Choice and the wise street preacher of Drop The Hate.

Live On Brighton Beach (Ministry Of Sound, 2002) is a remix album.

Palookaville (Astralwerks, 2004) marked a major stylistic change, relying on live musicians, contemporary events and nostalgic rock.

Here Lies Love (2010) was a collaboration with David Byrne.

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