There’s a reason why Fatboy Slim’s 1998 album, “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby,” sold more than a million copies in the States, making it one of the few DJ-driven records to ever scale that lofty peak: It was a triumph of musical montage and snarky wit, a funky tapestry stitched together from dusty grooves and Fatboy Slim’s whimsical bombast. He lured everyone into his Big Beat tent--rave kids, housewives, ad agency reps--without diluting the intensity of his sonic constructs.
“Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars” strives for an even greater push toward the middle. Such tracks as “Ya Mamma” and “Sunset (Bird of Prey)” loop off-kilter vocal hooks around booty-quake beats, thereby reprising what’s becoming a familiar Fatboy stratagem. On these and other tracks, “Halfway” functions as a musical survey of urban pop-culture, a white Brit’s homage to old-school wild style. Throughout the album, phrases such as “mad flava,” “yeah, you don’t stop” and “retox the freak in me” punctuate Slim’s disco-ball beats like verbal graffiti scrawl.
But unlike “Long Way Baby,” “Halfway” strives for something more than skin-deep sensation--and succeeds, with guest singers Macy Gray and Bootsy Collins providing the record with its soul-stirring undertow. Fatboy Slim performs at Club Soho on Saturday.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.