For Party Purposes Only
Album Review - Fatboy Slim - Big Beach Bootique 5 (February 19, 2013 on The End Records)
Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, has been banging out beats since 1996, which pretty much grants him seasoned veteran status when you consider his first album came out in the same year that 2Pac died. One of the most vivid memories I have of Fatboy Slim’s music is mishearing the lyrics to “The Rockafeller Skank” as “Right about now, the feng shui brother”. But embarrassing personal stories aside, this new album captures FBS ticking a box off his bucket list with a massive concert at Amex Stadium, in his hometown of Brighton.
Fittingly titled Big Beach Bootique 5, it begins with what sounds like a preacher sermonizing on FBS’s greatness over a backdrop of “Right Here Right Now”, then segueing directly into “Praise You”, one of his biggest songs of the late ’90s. It’s an early highlight, if you can ignore the jarring distortion that seems to cut in and out at random in the song’s second half. Although possibly being the cause of that distortion, the crowd manages to complement this song particularly well rather than overpowering it, especially when they go back-and-forth with FBS on the chorus.
Speaking of the crowd, their noise and cheers seem to fade in and out throughout the album, which I find a much better alternative considering how some live albums suffer from a crowd that drowns out almost everything else. Aside from a few audio missteps such as the aforementioned distortion, the mix is surprisingly clean and clear. The crowd seems to love it, but given the state of mind that many probably were in, it’s not surprising as it’s all pump-up, big beat music that feels like an auditory Red Bull.
There’s an intriguing mash-up between the Bingo Player’s Daft Punk-ish sounding “L’Amour” with “Bass Kick in Miami, Bitch”, which is itself a mash-up between DJ Chuckie and LMFAO. Except now LMFAO proclaim that they’re “in the Amex, bitch” instead of being “in Miami, bitch” to more accurately reflect where it’s happening. I thought it was a nice little touch.
But, as with most things, the recording can’t possibly compare to the live show; perhaps the DVD of the same name is able to capture its essence better. As the album goes on, the songs begin to blend together and numb the senses to the point where around midway the initial high starts to wear off and boredom creeps in. There just doesn’t seem to be enough variety to keep you listening from front to back, which is disappointing when considering the credentials of who’s in charge. To be honest, I wish FBS worked in more of his older songs, such as “Rockafeller Skank” and “Weapon of Choice”, which would kickstart my nostalgia, thus getting my wandering attention again.
Ultimately, Big Beach Bootique 5 is the soundtrack for, and of, a party. But as can happen with parties sometimes, it starts off strong with a lot of potential but after sticking around for awhile, you’re left somewhat dissatisfied and disappointed. This isn’t the type of album that will change your life or blow your mind; it’s made for having fun, and works best when you can get caught up in the beats, zone out, and not pay too much attention.