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Fatboy Slim - Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits

Fatboy Slim, Greatest Hits

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT’S been 10 years since Norman Cook, a former bassist with the Housemartins, created the alias Fatboy Slim and transformed the dance scene with some catchy big beat mayhem.

During that time, he has delivered some killer albums of party-pleasers (such as The Rockafeller Skank, Praise You and Gangster Tripping), as well as some pretty neat remixes for the likes of Cornershop (Brimful of Asha) and Groove Armada (I See You Baby).

All are present and correct on Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits, a downright seminal collection of the Fatboy’s best efforts that serve to show why he has sold over eight million albums.

For many, of course, Fatboy Slim’s greatest achievement in long-player form was 1998’s You’ve Come A Long Way Baby which spawned the hits Praise You and Gangster Tripping – but even if subsequent albums didn’t manage to cram so much in, there have still been some pretty special moments.

1996’s Better Living Through Chemistry, for instance, delivered the cult classic Going Out Of My Head, while 2000’s Halfway Between The Gutter and the Stars included the moody Sunset (Bird of Prey), featuring a well-observed Jim Morrison/Doors sample, as well as Demons, featuring a truly gravel-throated slice of soul from Macy Gray.

Such tracks serve to show that when he puts his mind to it, Norman can really deliver something different and constantly evolving – it’s just a shame that the unreleased Put It Back Together, featuring Damon Albarn, didn’t make its way onto the collection.

That track was one of few highlights from the critically derided Palookaville, his most recent album, although the opening track Don’t Let The Man Get You Down does, at least, show that Fatboy Slim still has what it takes to concoct a downright funky single. Less successful, of course, was the appalling Slash Dot Dash, which has never sounded good no matter how many times I tried. Fortunately, his equally derisive cover version of The Joker has also been omitted from this collection.

Given the 10 years the album spans, there is plenty of diversity and everyone is sure to have a couple of favourites – but it’s a tribute to Norman Cook’s talent that this greatest hits collection will be able to appeal to such a wide listener base. It has tremendous crossover appeal and makes an ideal party album.

I’d also recommend buying the limited edition CD and DVD given the consistently high quality of Fatboy Slim videos. Who can forget, for instance, the seminal videos to tracks such as Praise You, featuring that dancer, Right Here, Right Now with its story of evolution, or most memorably, Weapon of Choice, featuring a certain Chrisopher Walken.

Of the two new tracks on the long-player, Champion Sound offers a slightly awkward mix of hip-hop, rap and mainstream dance that takes a bit of getting used to without ever really properly impressing. While forthcoming single, That Old Pair Of Jeans offers a deliciously lazy beat, some funky, Motown-based hammond organ, a little bit of gospel and a genuinely pleasing vocal sample. It’s a gloriously old-school Fatboy Slim romp that should go down an absolute storm on the beaches this summer (especially if Norman is giving a concert).

Of the 18 tracks on the album, therefore, there are only a few that represent misfires. For the most part, it’s a shamefully enjoyable big beat orgy that’s definitely worth indulging in!

Track listing:

  1. Rockafeller Skank
  2. Praise You
  3. Brimful Of Asha – Cornershop
  4. Weapon Of Choice
  5. Gangster Trippin’
  6. I See You Baby – Groove Armada
  7. Wonderful Night
  8. Right Here Right Now
  9. Going Out Of My Head
  10. Sunset (Bird Of Prey)
  11. Everybody Loves A Carnival
  12. Don’t Let The Man Get You Down
  13. Demons
  14. Sho Nuff
  15. Slash Dot Dash
  16. Santa Cruz
  17. Champion Sound
  18. That Old Pair Of Jeans