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Fatboy Slim & Midfield General

Big Beach Boutique 2

Release Date: 10.15.02
Record label: sony / epic
Genre(s): Rock


by: peter naldrett

A quarter of a million dance fans descended on Brighton beach one evening during the summer to enjoy what will surely be the gig of the decade. Prior to this, when was the last time you saw a concert on the front page of the national press? Band Aid? Woodstock?

Alright, some people dropped litter on the beach (it happens at every concert and gets cleared up) and some people were injured (again unsurprising in a crowd of that size), but the sheer scale of this free event was enough to ensure its place in the records books. But once the minority of cynics had had their say and the garbage had been collected, what was left over was a legacy that Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) will be under pressure to produce, improve and evolve every single year.

The Big Beach Boutique was in its second year during 2002 (last year’s event being a much lower profile affair) and the album of the seaside gig is released this week. But, while the phenomenon of the 250,000-strong beach concert cannot be ignored, those who went may feel a little short-changed by the album. The chosen tracks remixed by former Housemartin Norman Cook and Midfield General swing from being predictable (X Press 2’s "Lazy") to the sublime ("Pure Shores" from All Saints) and don’t help things to move along all that well.

On top of this, the continuous links in and out of songs are engineered well but become a little tiresome and uninventive after a while, in the same way that album-long mega-mixes and Jive Bunny types of the past became intolerable. Another failing of this live album is the lack of Fatboy Slim’s personal catalogue to be included. We are only treated to his Talking ‘Bout My Baby (mixed by Midfield General), which is one of his weaker tracks in any case and would have been more easily swallowed if linked to several of his hard-hitting dance anthems that redefined the club direction in the 1990s.

The event itself is legendary and will be talked about for years to come. The album of the famous night is, at best, secondary, and needs to be forgotten quickly. 09-Oct-2002 8:51 PM