The Lost Tapes
In perhaps some of the most creative marketing of 2009, big beat pioneer Norman Cook–best known as “funk soul brother” Fatboy Slim–nears his 20th pseudonym with his return in the form of The Brighton Port Authority. An open-invitation collective of icons and budding newcomers, The BPA are a fictitious ’70s supergroup led by Cook and Brighton, England-based producer Simon Thornton, their rumored “existence” recently solidified by the “discovery” of tapes of mythical jam sessions featuring the likes of Iggy Pop, Martha Wainwright, David Byrne, and an impressive list of tomorrow’s stars (though tomorrow is probably today).Bullshit backstory aside, the befitting title I Think Weâ€šÃ„Ã´re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat describes both the extensive cameos and the sonic tidal wave throughout. Despite that fact that some of the supposed recordings were created before some of the guests were born or the songs were written, Bigger Boat is a time capsule of sounds bearing traces of ’60s rocksteady and ’70s post-punk as well as ’90s big beat. Whereas the all-star lineup on N.A.S.A.’s comparable The Spirit of Apollo may scream bombastic hubris, Cook’s subtler collaborations score high on substance and originality, and higher on versatility.
Breakout single “Toe Jam” featuring Byrne and Dizzee Rascal, and “Should I Stay or Should I Blow” with Ashley Beedle, flash back to the skanky party tunes of classic Fatboy Slim. Iggy Pop’s take on The Monochrome Set’s “He’s Frank” jumps into immediacy, while Martha Wainwright’s Amy Winehouse-like burn on the dubbed-out “Spade” and Cagedbaby’s romanticized “Superlover” slow the pace of an already relaxed atmosphere. Mostly light on obvious synths,Bigger Boat also boasts the electronic-tinged “Island” with fellow producer Justin Robertson singing over a light-as-a-cloud melody that coats an evident sample of Clipse’s “Grindin’.”
Cook’s slow and smooth return to the music scene owes a debt to his Rolodex. So does the genius of I Think Weâ€šÃ„Ã´re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat, built upon the Fatboy’s invitations to one of the most inventive musical rosters that could have been. Or was?