Besides being a not-so-common expression of moderate success, this is also Mr. Slim's new album. Released on November 11th and advertised by 'Fatboy for President' adverts, this album has not met with the same success as You've Come a Long Way, Baby., critically or financially. I have not seen the sales numbers on the album, but it wasn't exactly flying off the shelf when I took the trip down to Barnes and Noble to buy it on the eleventh.

Success or not, this album is definately not what the teenybopper crowd that flocked to Praise You or the The Rockafeller Skank wants to listen to. This is, for the most part, what Quentin has been about for almost 15 years: Dance Music. In an interview with Worldpop in 1998 he was clear about it:

Worldpop: What makes you a good DJ?
Norman: 20 years of experience and a desire to entertain rather than educate. I like to look at the crowd and see what they're into and If I don't see a thousand smiling faces out there, I know something has gone wrong.

Worldpop: You're the opposite of the moody DJ…
Norman: Yeah, I'm more vaudeville style. I'm the Robbie Williams of DJing. Oh my god, did I just say that?!

I don't remember where I read it, but I remember in an interview Fatboy talked about 'serious dance music'. You know the kind: the crap all the pretentious assholes dance to, and the kind the moody DJ's play and produce. When used in moderation, it can be somewhat refreshing, but at some point you've just gotta say 'fuck it, let's just dance'. Upfront and honest dance music is anything that has goofy loops, funky samples, and an obvious beat that isn't masquerading behind a dozen synth loops and a sporadic bassline that sounds like wheezing more than anything else.

The new album is mostly about just this. Honest-to-God catchy loops, funky beats, and a dance/house presence that pleases myself and almost any Big Beat fan. While it's not all cookie dough, the album is a great diversion, and after having listened to it for a month or so, I can honestly reflect on it, track by track.

Track 1 - Talking 'Bout My Baby
First things first: You can not review every single track one by one without thinking about its neighbors. When I first heard this, I was sure it was FBS, but it left me dazed and confused. Throughout the track, there is a nice sample loop and a great build-up, but to what? It's three and a half minutes of build-up and no payoff. What a rip. Norman Cook, you could have done better! Shame on you! Granted, it is followed by Star 69, but that's still no excuse.

Track 2 - Star 69
In an interview with the Radio 1's Pete Tong, FBS said that he "Doesn't make music for kids." He usually has a revealing cover (Better Living Through Chemistry, as well as this album) or a track or two with that Devil of Devils: the word Fuck. In the same interview, Quentin confessed that:

"I've had couples recognize me and come up and say 'Hey you're Fatboy Slim, my four-year-old loves your album, he dances to it all the time,' and I instantly go, 'Oh, that's great. Sorry about track four.' To which the response is usually 'That's okay, we just skip it.'"

So, no he's not out there for the four-year-olds. Star 69 is to this album what 'In Heaven' was to 'You've Come a Long Way, Baby'. By the first minute, you will have heard 'that godawfull satan word' no fewer than ten times, seeing as how the good Dr. Cook has a hardon for echo effects and repeating samples ad-nauseum (which isn't necessarily bad, mind you). The track is as house-y as anything he has done, as he's said himself, "For this album, and all the others, I had one rule: strictly no four-on-the-floor tracks." To those not in the know, house music is pretty much defined as a four by four beat (much like Disco). Definately not four on the floor, but still an enjoyable piece of nuttiness.

Track 3 - Sunset (Bird of Prey)
Love it or hate it, this was the single. Using the late, great, Jim Morrison's accapella of 'Bird of Prey' off the 'Jim Morrison: An American Poet' album, Fatboy constructed an ambient/new-age-y track that he put on a mix tape for friends. Six years, two 303's, and plenty of Akai 901 lovin' later, this is the flagship single on his new album in late 2000. The drum snare in half the song is notably nicked from 'Acid 8000' and somewhat disappointing. Other than that, I like this song. The live remixes are plenty phatter, but I still like this version. If you're not sure if you'll like it, listen to 'Next To Nothing' on his first album, then go from there.

Track 4 - Love Life
This album sees a first for FBS: Live Vocals. My answer: Don't Quit Your Day Job. The music and vocals are well mixed and matched. I'm sorry, but Macy Gray makes me break out in hives and vomit all over the keyboard. Good God, no more. Next Please!

Track 5 - Ya Mama
Dance Music. Straight, nasty, and phat. Great sample, great drum loops. This is a track worth getting the album for. But I liked it more when it was called 'Block Rockin' Beats' and 'Everybody Needs a 303'.

Track 6 - Mad Flava
Straight from the horse's mouth: "Mad Flava... I didn't know if this track was bollocks or genius, honestly." I say it's somewhere in between, right in that meaty curve. Steady groove, crazy samples, nutty bass line, what can I say. Kind of reminiscent of 'Everybody Loves a Carnival', 'Gangsta Trippin' and 'Kalifornia', with a little 'Praise You' thrown in for the piano's sake.

Track 7 - Retox
Chunky bass line with an excellent, if freaky, sample and plenty of funky beats with some things that remind me of 'Mad Flava'. Crazy, wacky, and oddly satisfying; enjoy a can of your very own... Today!

Track 8 - Weapon of Choice
Call me weird and tacky, but I love this track. I feel it's definitely the best on the album, mostly for the same reason people like 'Lowrider'. It's not serious, it sounds fun and catchy, and hey, if you don't like it, you can go listen to Moby. The album definitely shines in these last few tracks, except for one. I would buy the CD just for this one track. Did I mention that Bootsie Collins (of PFunk Allstars fame) lays down the vocal for this bit? The one thing that kinda pisses me off is the whole 'Half Way Between the Gutter and the Stars' riff. I know what I'm listening to, you don't have to remind me!

Track 9 - Drop the Hate
The last 30 seconds of Track 8 contain an awesome little breakdown that goes straight into this track. Two words: Holy Shit! (pun intended). The entire track is a huge sample of a speech by one evangelist or another, not to mention that it's seriously spooky, funny, and tacky, all at once. Oh, and remember that snare loop from Track 3 and 'Acid 8000'? Guess. Also, the bassline sounds like someone spliced it from 'Retox' and 'Ya Mama', dropped it through a compressor, and spit it back out. I could be wrong, maybe Mr. Slim just has a Decay-Knob Fetish.

Track 10 - Demons
Ugh... See Track 4.

Track 11 - Song for Shelter
Roland Clark's vocal from way back in Track 2 is back, but this time it's the whole thing. With a much higher voice pitch. Now call me gay, if you must, but I like this track. I'm not sure if that makes me a homosexual, but I like to pride myself as gay-tolerant, meaning I am not a homophobe, but not a homophile either. The music is absolutely tremendous. Great (and new) drum loops, great samples and basslines. Simply incredible. People that have heard or seen FBS DJing will recognize the second sample of Roger Sanchez. You know the one; it goes on right before The Pills 'Rock Me'. Very few songs can sustain themselves for five minutes, let alone eleven, but I don't think this one is too long or too short, just perfect.

As with all of his albums you may want to work with your equalizer a bit to get the right effect, seeing as how Simon Thornton (FBS's production assistant) has a thing for making the sub-1-KHz frequencies too quiet and the above-10-KHz frequencies too loud. I guess he doesn't like mp3's.

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