Beats International

Let Them Eat Bingo

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Let Them Eat Bingo Review

by Rick Anderson

In between his late-'80s gig with the Housemartins and his late-'90s gig as Fatboy Slim, reigning avatar of big beat, bassist and DJ Norman Cook made two albums under the name Beats International. On both albums the concept was the same: steal musical snippets as blatantly as possible from as many different sources as possible and recombine them into frothy, funky, and irresistibly hooky slabs of dance pop. Does "Dub Be Good to Me" sound familiar? It should -- that's the bassline from the Clash's "Guns of Brixton" churning underneath an otherwise relatively faithful rendition of the SOS Band's "Just Be Good to Me." Whose atonal guitar riff is that on "I Won't Talk About It?" Why, Billy Bragg's! (That's apparently his tortured falsetto, too). And there's more -- cribbed snippets of Delta blues, what sound very much like samples of Fela Ransome-Kute, all kinds of interesting and obscure stuff. One could probably get all offended by this sort of bald-faced thievery, but that would just spoil the fun. Cook isn't pretending to be original here; he's just showing how much fun you can have with a sampler and flawless taste in beats. (The CD includes a bonus 12" remix of "For Spacious Lies.")

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