Check It Out Now -- The Funk Soul Brother

Check It Out Now Funk Soul Brother

Norman Cook used to be the bassist for the Housemartins, but you'd never know it from the wild dancefloor cut-ups he's been doing for the last ten years or so -- initially as Beats International (remember their Clash/S.O.S. Band hybrid 'Dub Be Good To Me'?), later as a series of one-off names he took for fun little singles ('Real Sounds Of Africa,' 'Pizzaman' and the like, mostly collected on the Southern Fried House compilation) and most recently as Fatboy Slim. Slim's modus operandi is pretty stable: find a couple of out-of-the-way samples that go together nicely and make them dirty-dance together until they hit it off, using the repeat-and-truncate patterns that Todd Terry pioneered for dance music. 'The Rockafeller Skank,' the leadoff single from MTV's Amp 2 compilation, has been catching on with modern-rock stations, and this four-track EP (including two versions of 'Rockafeller' and two lesser jams) has appeared to fill the void for Fatboy product.

'Rockafeller' is Cook's most indelible piece in ages, more or less by sheer luck. It's a snippet of hip-hop speak ('Right about now -- the funk soul brother'), a bit of what sounds like Duane Eddy lead guitar, a couple of measures' worth of a disco-rock riff and not much else, arranged in a variety of positions worthy of the Kama Sutra. The stroke of genius, though, is a nod to the late '80s electro classic 'French Kiss.' The track suddenly shudders to a halt halfway through, starts up again as a slow pounder, then accelerates to its initial sprint -- a sort of 'Come On Eileen' for a digital, post-verbal, post-melody time.

As for the other two tracks, 'Always Read The Label' is an old-school hip-hop loop prettied up with those four-on-the-floor edits for six minutes, and the drumless instrumental 'Tweakers Delight' recalls the early days of acid house, when all you really needed was a 303 pattern (a 303 was a synth/drum machine that was used on a lot of early acid house records) and a flanger (a sound-altering device that changes the tone but not the pitch of a series of notes) to make a mark on the E'd-out crowds.