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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 11:57 GMT
CD Review: Fatboy Slim
Norman Cook
Fatboy Slim: Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars (Skint)
By BBC News Online's Chris Charles

When Mr and Mrs Cook decided on the name Quentin for their new born, they can hardly have envisaged the career path he was destined to take.

Barrister, maybe; eminent surgeon, perhaps - but international superstar DJ, surely not?

Yet here is the prodigal son about to re-infect sagging dancefloors with, arguably, his finest long-player to date - and not a wig and gown in sight.

This unlikely teen icon (he changed his name to Norman to appear more hip for heaven's sake) may have mellowed since his Ibiza-fuelled days of the up-and-at-'em You've Come A Long Way Baby, but the quality of the goods have not settled in transit.

The album's title reflects the state of limbo he found himself in while intermittently switching from his favourite low-key bar in Brighton to a Hollywood knees-up at the drop of a hat.

Norman Cook
Brighton's most fanous citizen
There is a similar juxtaposition within the eclectic mix served up on the album.

On the one hand he's plain old Norman Cook, blissfully married with child on the way and one eye on the pipe and slippers.

On the other he's Fatboy Slim, 24-hour party person coming soon to blow a mind near you.

Top 10 single Sunset (Bird Of Prey) finds him unsure which guise to adopt. Relying heavily on a looped Jim Morrison sample, it repeatedly threatens to come out of its shell and explode into the biggest climax you've ever heard, but infuriatingly ducks out at the crucial moment.

The same cannot be said of Ya Mama, which blends an old punk riff with jigging rap vocals and a loony drumbeat straight out of the Bentley Rhythm Ace school of mayhem.

Psychedelic party

Retox keeps you on your toes with its tinny, recorded in a toilet drumbeat - not unlike Björk's There's More To Life Than This.

Weapon Of Choice sounds like the most scaly of Star Trek foes attempting to make their incomprehensible point as Captain Kirk and co attend one of those weird psychedelic parties they stumble across from time to time.

The above were undoubtedly contrived on the days when Fatboy Slim was allowed back out to play with his naughty friends, but the calmer, nights in front of the fire pieces are just as important and relevant to the album.

While its predecessor was conceived under the strain of a painful break-up, Halfway Between The Gutter And The Stars brings out the lovey dovey, content side of a loved-up man at ease with the world.

Norman Cook and Zoe Ball's wedding
Big day: Marriage has not tamed the Fatboy's sound
OK, the "two big ol' balloons in a hurricane" dedication to Zoe may be a little more information than we needed, but Macy Gray has that ol' devil called love totally sussed on the glorious, gospel-tinged Demons.

The first hoarse-whisperer of pop gets her oar in again on the not-so-good funkathon of Love Life and the Fatboy brings in a real-life preacher to deliver his sermon over an Orb back-catalogue on Drop The Hate.

Throw in the be-boppy Mad Fava and 12-minute mutterings of Song For Shelter ("The rhythm flows through my blood like alcohol and I get drunk") and you get a product that will make the incoming Slim truly proud of his old dad.

Providing he's not been named after him, that is.

See also:

20 May 00 | Entertainment
Christmas baby for Ball
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