By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
As demonstrated again by On the Floor at the Boutique, an action-packed DJ suite, obscurity doesn't fit Fatboy Slim. In '98, Cook, once a mere bassist for Hull band the Housemartins, jammed that point home, releasing "The Rockafeller Skank," a song from You've Come a Long Way Baby, the second Fatboy Slim album. With its many repetitionsCook loves repetitions the way Jay Leno loves carsof "Check it out now, the funk-soul brother" and suavely retro Shindig! vibe, Fatboy Slim managed his career-making smash. Even the U.S. pop music press, always so relieved when electronica isn't strictly speaking electronica, applauded.
On the Floor at the Boutique is the Fatboy Slim mix album originally released outside America in 1998 that Cook's success now makes possible for his thirsty domestic audience. In remixing and sequencing 18 records he likesloosely funky yet always targeted stuff like Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns' "Discoitdown" and Mr. Natural's "That Green Jesus," as well as two Fatboy Slim tracksCook isn't pushing cultishly revered past dance styles as eternal and groovy, as the Chemical Brothers did on their remix albums. And, in marked contrast to relatively obscure remix dudes like Austria's Kruder & Dorfmeister, Cook hardly obsesses on roving sonic architecture or slow soul ecstasies. He just wants to have big fun at a rapid rate. He's keen on the kind of fast-rapped dazzle that most real hip-hoppers these days are too high-minded to pursue.
Whatever his standing as an electronica artist, though, Cook with Fatboy Slim has definitively established himself as a player in a line of 20th-century British pop inventors that stretches from The Goon Show to the films of Michael Caine to early-'90s techno musicians such as Orbital. Like them, he mates deep reserves of cleverness with extreme common sense. As Fatboy Slim, Cook plays the role of stone funk fan, lost in cool old records. His genius is to know that, although he may never get on the one like Parliament, he might just figure out some snazzy facsimiles thereof. Or, as the beginning of On the Floor at the Boutique puts it with charming sloth, "I never worked a day in my life. I just laid back and let the big beat lead me." Just don't let Fatboy Slim kid you.