If a think back to the late 90’s brings the visions of Brian Cox still in D.Ream, the anthem of New Labour and Tony Blair, Robbie Williams was establishing a solo career away from Take That and here emerged another key sound of the late 90’s.
Big Beat was fairly popular in the mainstream with The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy also adopting this kind of style and Fatboy Slim, well, is it electronic dance music for the mainstream? Is this why he’s so divisive? I’ve heard and read plenty to say he’s fairly formulaic or simple so is that true, does it matter, as long as it’s a good track? Here’s my take…
Right Here Right Now – just typing that I wonder how many now have the track playing in their head, with the iconic string riff above and the punchy simple repeated titular phrase echoing as the acid house style synths take over an the beat increases… Damn this is a great start and it was everywhere, it was catchy, it was good!
Track two follows just as strongly with Rockafeller Skank. Four words for you “The funk soul brother”. Sure it’s four lines repeated, two of which are the same but listen to what he’s doing a) during the lyrics and b) between each phrase. It’s a dance-floor playground.
This album knows the value of a good sample of riff, using You Did It by Ann Robinson (not the weakest link one) was a real genius stroke in Gangster Trippin, it’s backed so well with the heavy bass and crystal clear drum beat.
Elephant in the room – I can’t deny a level of repetitiveness in some of the lesser known tracks (Kalifornia) but I urge you look back at the Benga review; you don’t need to play one thousand ideas off against each other, it’s about capturing people in a set, and so it was mainstream too, the radio edits trimmed some fat. It works on both fronts, you can’t hate that.
Another iconic one for you? Praise You! You should have dismissed the idea of full lyrics here, it’s all about the hooks and the backing and it works. I can also guarantee just the title is bringing memories back for so many people. It’s just such an infectious sound.
For the science or tech lot among you, the infectious sound is marked by that constant moving low- or high- pass filter over some of the riffs – an element taken from the far more underground Acid House genre, it works in mainstream though; here it’s proven.
The album closes with a track closer to its roots Acid 8000 cheekily plays with a bit more of the acid house sound, though only on the surface, it’s rather fast. Either way it’s a send off for something that was blown up organically due to its captivity (we secretly like that squelch). I don’t think we should resent it.
Maybe I look at this album through nostalgia goggles but I think nine-year-old me got captivated by Zoë Ball: Radio 1 breakfast show on the ride to school with my dad. We loved it, and why not. (Of course Zoë Ball did marry Fatboy Slim.)
Is this album for you?
Oh this is your choice. Personally, I think Big Beat is no bad thing but what I will say is it’s a knowledgeable play of simple sounds. I’m not blinded to the faults, the scores should show that but…If you remember it from back then, you should listen now; get a feel and tell me how it worked for you. For me, I had a great time.
- Writing: 7.5/10
- Performance: 8/10
- Style: 8.5/10