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Better Living Through Chemistry

4.4 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 23, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Finally issued domestically, including 2 tracks not available on the previous import version.

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Fatboy Slim (also known as Norman Cook, formally of the Housemartins) has composed a collection of tracks so dependent on samples that they'll keep "Name That Tune" fans busy for hours. The single "Going out of My Head" is crafted with funky beats thrown down on top of the guitar riff from the Who's classic "I Can't Explain." Mr. Slim borrows, begs, and steals from some of the best. You'll hear obvious influences from every genre from industrial to house. But these songs do not mimic; rather, Cook takes the established and reinvents it, mixes it up, rearranges it. The result is an energized, motivating, even endearing big-beat album that feels, grooves, and moves from beginning to end. --Beth Bessmer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 23, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Astralwerks
  • ASIN: B000003RZ0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,708 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I'm not an expert on Fatboy Slim or similar music genres as many of the reviewers here seem to be. I can only tell you about the practical effects this CD has had on my life.
I suffer from depression, and I've discovered that very often, a good driving beat can help me shrug off my fatigue and get to work. Fatboy Slim is my absolute favorite for chores around the house - picking up trash, mopping the floors, etc. Even if you're bored and you half-heartedly start listening to his CDs, his music has that magic edge that will gradually wake you up and make you want to shake your booty along with it.
"You've Come a Long Way Baby" has been my favorite "cleaning" CD for a year... but lately my mind recoils when the first strains of "Right Here, Right Now" pulse out of the speakers. ("Oh no! Not chores, again!") I decided it was time for a change, and since the reviewers recommended this CD over his new one, I took the plunge.
Yes indeed, "Better Living Through Chemistry" has the same type of energetic, driving beats. Exactly what I wanted. I especially like Track 8 (First Down), which has a jazzy loop with trumpets, that sent me into a twirling dance the first time I heard it. [And is it my imagination, or is the first sample in Track 9 (Punk to Funk) taken from Future Sound of London's "Dead Cities" album?]
I will say, it's a little less lighthearted than the retro-ish sounds of YCALWB, with fewer lyrics. Darker, but not ominous, not anxious, not goth... hmm. Perhaps this is what the "Pi" movie soundtrack would have sounded like if it had been compiled by Fatboy Slim. I'm very wary of anything that would exaberate my depression. Not too dark - not too giddy - just right. This is it.
If you want something to play in the background to get you moving, whether jogging or cleaning or dancing, this is it. Enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the kind of music you play when you want to energize your environment. It's sexy. The whole CD contains catchy vibes. It makes your body move even if you don't want it too. There's just something about it - pulsing beats. Many of the songs build up and release in orgasmic rhythms that are so funky you won't stop moving. There is variety in all the songs too. Unlike a lot of albums out there, this one has an array of sound concoctions. Love it. So if you are into funk-filled techno, this is a must. And "Going out of my head" isn't the only good song on the album. Listen and find out for yourself. I am no expert in describing music, I just take pleasure in letting it affect me.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When people hear the name of Fatboy Slim, they think of songs like Praise You and The Rockefeller Skank which were on You've Come a Long Way Baby or they think of his latest album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars because of the radical changes that album has compared to YCALWB. However, they need to look at this album, one that was released in 1997 before he hit it big in the mainstream. You want bass and big beats? Better Living Through Chemistry gives it to you in spades. Songs like Give the Po'Man a Break, Punk to Funk, Santa Cruz, Everybody Needs a 303, and my favorite, Going Out of my Head are great tracks that will make you marvel at Mr. Cook's genius. Going Out of my Head uses a sample from the classic Who song, I Can't Explain that just makes it explode. If you turned up your nose at Fatboy because he "sold out" or went mainstream, then I ask that you seriously give this album a look. Any fan of techno/electronica music could not live without it. I know I couldn't.
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By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Audio CD
For Easter this year, I received Fatboy Slim's "You've Come A Long Way, Baby". I enjoyed that very much, so I bought his two singles, "The Rockafeller Skank" and "Praise You". But, the day before school started, I bought Fatboy Slim's debut, "Better Living Through Chemistry". This album isn't as good as is second, but it still packs a lot of power. From the stereophonic guitar of "Song For Lindy" to the tweaked keyboards of "Next To Nothing", this CD certainly deserved RollingStone magazine's "Party Album of the Year" title. Also, congrats to Mr. Slim on his win at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards and his earning of Platinum for his album "You've Come A Long Way, Baby"!
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Format: Audio CD
Within the musical niche he's creating, he did a very good job. This was Norman's first big album, and I think he solidified his style with it. The sound of Better Living through Chemistry is synth-rock house with a very American, westward-looking feel to it. This album is for those who want thumping, rock-oriented, synthetic, energized, and inherently loud music. For people who criticize great tunes like "Everybody Needs a 303" and "Give the Po' Man a Break" as repetitive, I say that they're not listening to the way the song is developing over time. My favorite track is "Santa Cruz." It conjures great imagery and contains one of the longest and best builds I've ever heard from a song.
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Format: Audio CD
"Better Living Through Chemistry" is an average album. It tends to feel like a collection of tracks rather than a cohesive unit, and there is a lot more filler than "You've Come A Long Way, Baby". However, it's made worthwhile by four outstanding tracks. "Going Out Of My Head" takes a Who sample and works it into a huge big-beat party number. "Everybody Needs A 303" reaches into the sounds of acid and breaks, as does "Punk To Funk", and makes for techno with a bit more energy than usual. The album's highlight, though, is "Santa Cruz", which takes all the basic elements of Fatboy Slim songs (minus a vocal hook) but with a lot more subtlety and techno vibes than normal. It's one of the best tracks of his career.
The rest of the album is okay, with some good tracks ("The Sound Of Milwaukee", "Michael Jackson", "Next To Nothing"), some filler ("10th and Crenshaw") and one real failure ("The Weekend Starts Here"). The four songs mentioned above, however, make it all worth your money.
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