Fatboy Slim - Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Western world - regardless of age, gender, class or race - who wouldn't recognise at least a third of the tracks on this collection, such is the way in which Fatboy Slim (aka Norman Cook) and his superstar DJ choons have infiltrated the public conscience. The majority of songs here have soundtracked everything from films and TV shows to adverts, and listening to this corker of a CD from start to finish is akin to revisiting old friends.
The first half of the album is where you'll find all the mega-hits. Signature tune The Rockafeller Skank, which combines surf-guitar loops with the big beats Fatboy is renowned for, opens the show and from this point on, there's not much let-up. Track two is perhaps the greatest hit of all, the irrepressibly uplifting gospel refrain of Praise You which sounds as fresh today as it did back in 2000. Hip-shakers abound in the form of Gangster Tripping and Wonderful Night, as well as the awesome Weapon of Choice which works even without the Christopher Walken video that accompanied its single release. There's time for a brooding moment too in the shape of the fantastic Right Here, Right Now, all building strings and contrasting male/female vocal breakdowns. Two remixes are also included, the first being Cornershop's one-hit wonder Brimful of Asha that probably only became a hit due to Mr Cook adding his own flavour. Groove Armada's most instantly recognisable moment - which probably has a lot to do with that car commerical - is also present and correct, and will have listeners shaking their asses all across the land.
The disc's latter half is more schizophrenic, throwing up more experimental stuff such as the euphoric Sunset (Bird of Prey), as well as the occasional misfires - hello to you, Slash Dot Dash. The two highlights are Demons, centred around Macy Gray's vocal appearance, and Don't Let the Man which uses a catchy piano/vocal sample to much the same effect Praise You did. This song also proves last album Palookaville wasn't a complete failure. Sadly, the two new songs tagged on at the end (latest single That Old Pair of Jeans and the more upbeat Champion of Sound) are solid but unremarkable efforts. It's a shame the main man's remix of Wildchild's Renegade Master wasn't included instead. One can breathe a sigh of relief, however, that last year's redundant cover of the Steve Miller Band's The Joker has been left off the plate.
Despite a couple of missteps, it goes without saying that this is a brilliant package. Most greatest hits albums hit the shelves just before Christmas but this is perfect music to accompany sunny days, and so it is a sensible move that it is being released mid-June. However, these songs will never fail to get the party started, regardless of what month, and one can only hope Mr Cook's party is far from over. Praise you, Fatboy!