Fatboy Slim...Why Make Videos? Review
...because otherwise people would find your awfully repetitive music so very, very dull? Well, you ask a question, expect an answer. After all, would we still think so fondly of Weapon Of Choice were it not for Christopher Walken's dancing/flying about a deserted hotel? Or Praise You without the Torrance Community Dance Group (Spike Jonze and friends) and their dancing in the small space in front of a cinema? Or Gangster Tripping without the exploding toilet, home furnishings and kitchen appliances?
A star of Match Of The Day's goal-scoring sequences, for which Norman Cook's untroubling dance music seems tailor-made, as well as his the huge nights he hosts on the various beaches of the country, Fatboy Slim was a one-time member of The Housemartins, then Beats International, who hit with Guns Of Brixton...Dub Be Good To Me, before going solo. Housemartin Stan wrote children's books, Housemartin Paul went easy-listening with The Beautiful South but Norman went for a big beat sound with his own Skint Records, finding success with The Rockefeller Skank, Gangster Tripping and Going Out Of My Head. Although each song on here is, without exception, far too long. The ideal length of Weapon Of Choice would be about 30 seconds, Praise You fifteen and Going Out Of My Head six, drawing to a sudden close immediately after the opening three-chord riff. Indeed, the few times that I've played The Rockefeller Skank, I've wandered back to the CD case wondering if it was the extended edit, or the 12" version as we might once have called it. Alas no, it's simply a very, very dull song, albeit one that's not actually any longer than the average pop song. It just feels like it is!
There's a very decent selection of videos in this single-disc set, including Praise You, Weapon Of Choice and Right Here, Right Now. The two Spike Jonze videos are rightly lauded - Praise You, in particular, is a wonderful video with a great moment when a member of the crowd steps out to turn the music off, getting a big hug from Jonze for his efforts - but the Hammer & Tongs effort is a leap into evolution from the men who would later make the underrated The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Beginning with the Big Bang, then the formation of life on Earth in the seas, through its jumping onto the land to being an ape, Neanderthal Man and, finally, a fat kid on a park bench, it's a hugely enjoyable video though not one that gets very much mention in between the Spike Jonze pair. However, the problem with these videos is that they're often so very good that one forgets about the song. It could well have been anyone playing over Right Here, Right Now and I would not have cared. Similarly, it could have been The Prodigy, The Revolting Cocks or Barry Manilow playing on the stereo and few would have noticed, particularly as the highlight of the video is when the music stops. Perhaps it's a very postmodern form of music video in which the music doesn't actually matter but I think not, finding that without the visuals (Jonze, Coppola, Hammer & Tongs and Match Of The Day), Fatboy Slim might well have gone the way of Freakpower.
Somewhat famously in music circles, Norman Cook used an Atari ST until recently during the recording of Fatboy Slim records and by the look of this, he's used it to master the DVD as well. Noisy and artefaced, the only way this would look any worse is if it had been presented on a wrinkled old VHS tape but, even then, one might have been thankful for it smoothing out the edge enhancement on this disc. Granted, this review copy comes on a DVD-R but that's not entirely an excuse as I can't imagine it being remastered between then and the production of the actual retail copy of the disc. It doesn't sound bad, though, except that it's worth saying that the Skint sound often used the scratchy samples from old recordings for effect so if you do heart the pop and crackle of what sounds like vinyl, it's not the fault of your equipment nor this disc.
Rare & Unseen Videos: These feature alternate versions of videos, director's cuts and alternative endings but they're often as much of a chore as the main videos. The one exception to that, and perhaps the best video in the set, is one in which Spike Jonze films himself getting ready for the Praise You video in which, without the rest of the Torrance Community Dance Group, he's alone on the street dancing to The Rockafeller Skank. Otherwise, there's a director's cut of Sunset (Bird Of Prey), an animated version of Star 69, Pigboy starring in Everybody Needs A 303, Build It Up, Tear It Down and five alternate endings for Don't Let The Man Get You Down.
Documentary (24m04s): Less a review of the pointlessness of the average Fatboy Slim track and more the various directors talking about the videos they've directed, this is a short leap from the very first videos through to the likes of Weapon Of Choice, Gangster Tripping and Ya Mama. Featuring, Hammer & Tongs, Tim Pope and Traktor but not Spike Jonze, this does tend to drag, particularly when the cast of directors discuss their work very seriously without any sense of how awful some of their videos are. How, for example, the killing of a racist by a knight in shining armour gets across an anti-racism message is quite beyond me but director Brian Beletic clearly thinks it's there. When Roman Coppola describes his blowing up of a toilet as an anti-consumerist message, one can't help but think of the artist explaining that dead cat they're exhibiting in the Tate Modern is a damning indictment of the current Labour government.
The Making Of...: There's two behind-the-scenes documentaries here, for Ya Mama (an unbelievable 18m15s) and Right Here, Right Now (16m36s). But, given that such things are often very dull when accompanying feature films, the making of Ya Mama will be a struggle for even the most devoted of fans. On the other hand, Hammer & Tongs' explanation of the making of Right Here, Right Now really isn't bad, most probably for their shrinking of the evolution of man - or the regression - into a few minutes.
Special Bonus Section: Rossini said of Wagner that the composer, "has wonderful moments and dreadful quarters of an hour." Fatboy Slim, on the other hand, may have a wonderful few seconds in a song but very dull minutes. The Video Mashup (6m34s) included here is quite enough Fatboy Slim for anyone agreeing with that sentiment, as it shrinks all of his best videos and songs into a six-and-a-half minute summary. More than enough Fatboy for anyone. Otherwise, there's a catch-up on his live beach parties with Are We Having Fun Yet? (5m18s) from Brixton, Brighton and Brazil. Er...no.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:51:25