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Fatboy Slim
Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars
Astralwerks


Some people like to snowboard, some people ride bikes, some folks enjoy lifting weights, others like woodworking. Almost everyone enjoys a certain type of music to outfit their leisure activity because it somehow enhances the experience. This probably has something to do with the gigantic influence motion pictures have on our lives and our culture. We seem to require a soundtrack to accompany everything we do. I'm no different from anyone else in this regard. I have favorite activities and appropriate music for the situations. For example, I like to fuck and I like to have Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook playing while I'm fucking.

Hey, I know people don't usually talk about this sort of thing, but to me, in order to properly articulate an opinion about this disc, I have to consider its bedroom potential. Take a good look at the cover of Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars and you'll understand that I'm not just making this up to be edgy or cute. That sunshot streaming through the gap between the hips and thighs of some slender, shadowy figure there...that photo wasn't an afterthought. That spot is the spot between the gutter and the stars, the spot that we were taught from birth was dirty, but remain obsessed with nonetheless. Norman's music is about the seduction of rhythm and patterns of movement, repetition...it's about sex, brothers and sisters.

The dance floor is really just a big PG-rated mattress, really. Dancing is foreplay, and anything with the

backbone-connected-to-the-hipbone can move to the funky Fatboy jams...if you've ever worked up a mutual sweat with a partner you were wild about, alongside dozens of others like yourselves, moving and grooving under flashing lights and that fat ass bass pounding on your chest, you know what I'm talking about. Those Fatboy beats can't be beat in the bedroom, either. I found this out for myself for the first time in a Japanese hotel while "Heaven" from You've Come A Long Way, Baby was playing in the background, and it was totally unintentional...it was just one of those great stumbled-upon discoveries. I just fell into the rhythm..."Fatboy Slim is fucking in BAM! Fatboy Slim is fucking in BAM! Fatboy Slim is fucking in BAM! fucking in fucking in fucking in BAM!" My partner was pleasantly shocked and surprised, and she suggested we go through the rest of the disc to find other patterns, but she is the kind of girl that it works for. Some people, most sistas for sure, would prefer R. Kelly's pseudo R&B to Fatboy's funk in the sack, but I can't get with that. Been down that road, too, as a matter of fact, and wound up in a ditch. It went something like this...

Da Sista: "Baby...R. Kelly is romantic."

Me: "Some people think so."

Da Sista: "Don't you think he has just the most gorgeous voice?"

Me: "Sure, he's a vocal gymnast, but Christ, listen to what he's saying."

R. Kelly (in background): "I'll be your cloud up in the sky...I'll be your shoulder when you cry."

Da Sista: "It's pretty"

Me: "It's mindless! Any junior high school kid with a rhyming dictionary could write this slop! There's nothing romantic about this to me at all."

Da Sista: "Well...he has sold millions of records you know."

Me: "Good thing too, so he can pay the dozens of people he shares songwriting credits with...as if it takes a whole team of people to write crap like this."

Da Sista: "Now you're just being nasty."

Me: "I'm sorry, I know this turns you on and all but."

Celine Dion: (in background) "Then you will see the morning will come, and your day will be as bright as the sun."

Me: "FUCKING CELINE DION TOO FER CHRISSAKES! JESUS!"

Da Sista: "I'm gonna go get a beer...you're starting to piss me off."

An unmitigated disaster, but lazy songwriting pisses me off, and that's something I never have to worry about when I've got Norman Cook supplying my own personal porn soundtrack...lyrics hardly ever are the focal point, so there's nothing to distract me from my monkey business. For the first time, however, Norman works with a real live vocalist on this new one, and Macy Gray simply smokes. "Love Life" is as sexy as music gets, and Macy gives the track it's soft, smooth and sweaty feel with that gift of a voice she has. The music careens from slow-burn funk to empty oil-barrel crescendo and finally stops with Macy breathing "Cuz I wanna F ya, I wanna F ya..." R. Kelly couldn't produce that kind of heat if he were set on fire and thrown into a gasoline-soaked skyscraper.

I think what made You've Come Along Way, Baby so special was that it had a breakout single in "The Rockafeller Skank." That track was really fucked up by radio standards and it is still unbelievable to me that radio actually played it. There's nothing as weird as "Skank" on the new one, but the Macy Gray track is the potential breakout. "Bird of Prey" may be of interest to some at rock radio because it drags Jim Morrison back out of the grave AGAIN to provide the creepy, sing-song lyric over and over. "Mad Flava" is a dancehall type dub that brings the NYC Badmen disc to mind, and "Retox" is pure house narcotic that the FDA could register as a controlled drug before the end of the year. My favorite might be "Drop The Hate" which wraps an old recording of a traditional gospel preacher around massive electronic percussion, a wonderful mating of old and new, past and present...and a great message, too.

You know, whether you're a mattress jockey or a birdhouse painter, this is a pretty decent soundtrack. I'd like to hear it while I ride the elevator, or while standing in line at the bank, but most of all, on the dance floor, or just on the living room floor...or, ya'know...anywhere is fine with me. The Thin White Dork...just looking at Norman Cook, you'd never in a hundred years guess that he's the guy responsible for all those crazy sexy beats. Me neither. I'd guess R. Kelly.

-Jeff Moody


Track Listing

  1. Talking ‘Bout My Baby
  2. Star 69
  3. Sunset (Bird Of Prey)
  4. Love Life
  5. Ya Mama
  6. Mad Flava
  7. Retox
  8. Weapon Of Choice
  9. Drop The Hate
  10. Demons
  11. Song For Shelter


Mike Doughty



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