Genre: Big beat DJ
There was a very decent indie guitar pop band in the eighties called The Housemartins. When they split up, there was one guy, the bassist Norman Cook, who had sort of got roped into playing for the band but was far more interested in pursuing a career in dance music. We all thought it was bit odd at the time, a bit like Susan Boyle taking up death metal, but whatever makes you happy…
Some time later, Cook was the bloke behind Beat International who made that Dub Be Good To Me thing, and Freak Power, who did Turn on, Tune in, Cop out, and then he was involved in Pizzamania, The Mighty Dub Katz and other projects, before becoming Fatboy Slim. By this time, most people weren’t even aware that he was still the same bloke who had played bass in Happy Hour in 1986, and sung along with the number one a capella version of Caravan of Love a year later.
Fatboy Slim is one talented guy, there can be no questioning that, whatever his critics might say. Few people can match his extensive repetoire of big beat electronica. He practically invented the genre. And you’d much rather listen to his stuff on the dancefloor than Leonard Cohen. Respect.
But let’s put this in some persepctive, shall we? At the end of the day, much as what he does is the work of a true genius, all he’s doing is taking bits from other songs and sticking synthesised dance beats over them. A bit like Stars on 45, Jive Bunny or that Bits and Pieces thing they used to do on Radio One, but gone all modern and funky.
Not really understanding the genre, I thought I’d consult Wikipedia and do some research into the issue. OK, let’s start with Right Here, Right Now, one of the chubby but slender one’s most famous ditties. Hmm, it says “the basic string melody of the song was sampled from the James Gang song Ashes, the Rain & I. The lyrics ‘right here, right now’ are a sample of Angela Bassett’s voice from the film Strange Days at the 1:39:08 mark.”
Gangster Tripping? Apparently “the song contains samples from Entropy by DJ Shadow, Word Play and The Turntablist Anthem by the X-Ecutioners, 8th Wonder by the Sugarhill Gang, Beat Box Wash by the Dust Junkys, and You Did It by Anne Robinson.” Surely not the same lady from The Weakest Link? I guess not.
The Rockafeller Skank? Well that one “features the repeated line ‘Right about now, the funk soul brother. Check it out now, the funk soul brother’, which is a vocal sample of rapper Lord Finesse on the track Vinyl Dog Vibe by Vinyl Dogs. The song also features four other samples, including a sample of the song Sliced Tomatoes by the band Just Brothers (a popular Northern Soul track), Bobby Fuller’s I Fought the Law (And the Law Won), and a sample of Beat Girl by John Barry and his Orchestra. A guitar line from the song Peter Gunn by Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy is also sampled.”
Like I say, all great dance stuff. But I was intrigued. What exactly does Fatboy Slim do when he plays live? Surely he can’t gather together all these people and get them to perform each of the little snippets of their songs that he’s pinched? Especially as some of them are dead. And most of these tracks would have taken days to put together, so how can he do the same thing live?
Not being the kind of person who’d want to spend money finding out in the flesh, I had a little look on Youtube. Well, it seems he just sort of stands there with headphones on in front of his decks and occasionally twiddles a disc about or presses a button on his laptop. Of course, there’s next to nothing he can really perform live. The light show is fantastic, the crowd whoops every time a firework goes off, and there are video screens and all the trimmings, but ultimately, all he’s really doing is playing records.
I’m not sure what chemical compound it is that enduces so many to people to whoopingly worship the bermuda shirted one, but there are thousands of them. They love it. And good on them – it’s great dance music and they’re having a cracking time. The music’s fantastic, and up there on the stage waving at them all is the very person that made the mix. All very exciting, I’m sure. What next? George Martin onstage pressing play on a laptop so the crowd can listen to Sgt Pepper?
I don’t get it … That’s basically why if this live DJ vibe is the kind of show you’re looking for, this website ain’t going to help you too much. I’m not saying it doesn’t look and sound fantastic and that you won’t have a grand time. But we do concerts, not discos.
Did you know: His real name is Quentin Leo Cook.
Friday May 25, 2012 Santa Cruz de Tenerife Rock Coast Festival
Sunday May 27, 2012 Ibiza Ushuaia Beach Hotel