Album Reviews

Fatboy Slim – Big Beach Boutique II

(Southern Fried) UK release date: 7 October 2002

Fatboy Slim - Big Beach Boutique 2 Lord of the Dance Fatboy Slim returns with the key tracks from July’s unbelievably riotous Big Beach Boutique II, the epic tabloid bothering jamboree that attracted about two million people to the Brighton seafront (okay, maybe it was closer to 250,000) one summer Saturday. Excitable red tops predictably focused on the negative aspects that emerged, like the unfortunate handful of fatalities and alleged environmental damage to the beach. However, the enormous popularity of the Fatboy was clearly demonstrated by the fact that 210,000 more people turned up than was expected. The man truly is a dance legend.

His story has been told many times before, the early days in The Housemartins, the depression and liberal drug use, the million albums sold, the hundreds of alter egos, Zoe Ball and Woody, the superstar DJ. You have to admire Norman Cook for his ability to rise above the tough times and succeed, but also for his humble attitude to stardom. This ain’t no moody DJ with a king-size chip on his shoulder, just a grounded guy who loves what he does, and is not afraid to show it.

What’s more, Norman’s gift for creating and selecting records that demand to be danced to is unsurpassed. Okay, so his mode of thinking is unashamedly populist, but really, who cares. This is a guy with his finger firmly on the pulse of the wider dance nation, not the geeky underground trainspotters. His heart probably beats at around 120 bpm.

And the music? Exactly what you would expect, but this itself is no bad thing. Chunky, groovily funky party house, topped by plenty of singalong vocal samples. Several recent favourites are present and correct, from the likes of Tim Deluxe‘s Ibiza gem It Just Won’t Do through to Mint Royale‘s bold as brass Sexiest Man In Jamaica. And Norman is not afraid to plunder from the past either. Midfield General‘s uplifting Reach Out gets the party started, whilst Groove Armada‘s bassy stunner Superstylin’ takes the bpms up a notch or two. Camisra‘s undeniably large Let Me Show You gives the mix a big fat rocket up its’ arse and fittingly the Fatboy finishes with his own re-edit of the really rather ace Pure Shores.

This is a mix album that wears its smile loud and proud. It’s having a ball and is not scared of letting people know. It’s not packed with ‘hip’ or ‘ironic’ electroclash crap favoured by urbanites with funny haircuts. It might not be the ‘coolest’ dance album you could buy this side of Shoreditch but quite frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s nuts. This is a collection tailor made to give people a fantastic time and no more, regardless of fly by night fads, and that’s more than good enough for me.

For those that were at Brighton beach in July this album will undoubtedly bring the memories flooding back. For those that weren’t, I’d recommend you get this anyway as it’s damned fine. A BBB3 is not confirmed, so this is a great chance to grab a slice of dance history. After all, when was the last gig you went to that was attended by a quarter of a million people?

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More on Fatboy Slim
Fatboy Slim – Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits
Fatboy Slim – Palookaville
Fatboy Slim – Big Beach Boutique II