Electronic-music fans upset that Fatboy Slim has recorded a fairly faithful cover of the Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" can direct their disgruntled comments to Levi Strauss & Co.
The song was originally slated for a Levi's 100th anniversary compilation album of artists re-recording songs featured in classic Levi's ads. When the company contacted Norman Cook (a.k.a. Fatboy Slim) last year, he eagerly offered to record the Steve Miller tune, enlisting the help of Parliament/Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins, with whom he'd worked on several tracks in the past, including the groundbreaking "Weapon of Choice."
"It took me about 10 seconds before I thought of Bootsy," Cook said. "I've worked with him so much over the years that I could just hear his voice on it. [The first line in the song is] 'Some people call me the space cowboy.' I mean, that line was practically written about him."
When Fatboy Slim finished the song and got back in touch with Levi's, Cook learned the compilation had been shelved, so he's including "The Joker" on his upcoming Palookaville, due October 5 (see "Fatboy Slim's Long Ride To Palookaville").
A video will be shot, but a director has yet to be chosen. Cook hopes to hire Spike Jonze, who worked on the award-winning "Weapon of Choice" clip, but the director hasn't committed.
"He would be my weapon of choice," Cook said. "Me and Spike seem to see eye-to-eye, and he gets the job done. Plus, I don't have to do anything, which is a plus. I just stay at home and then he sends me this fantastic video."
"The Joker" is one of Cook's favorite tracks on Palookaville, but he's also especially fond of "Slash Dot Dash," the new disc's first European single, which is reminiscent of his 1998 hit "The Rockafeller Skank."
As a bass line throbs along to a rock beat, records scratch, samples whirl and a voice repeats, "Dash, dot, dash, dot, dash, dot-com." After two minutes and 53 seconds, it abruptly ends.
"We looked up old Buzzcocks singles and Ramones stuff to work out how long to make it," Cook said. "And some of the songs were 2:15 and 2:10, which is what we were after. It was deliberately quick, fast and 'Hey, I'm back. I'm back and I'm noisy.' "
Though he's been away from the scene for a few years now, you can be sure he hasn't been spending that time surfing the Web. The hit composer of electronic music insists he doesn't own a personal computer.
"I've not been a fan of the dot-com craze," he said. "I'm not a big fan of computer interaction. I like going into a shop and talking to the assistant, joking around or whatever. I don't like to buy things online. There are these people who never go out and they always converse with people they've never met through the keyboard rather than actually talking to them, and that's really strange to me."
Of course, that's not the only reason Cook doesn't have an Internet connection at home. "If I was online, I would spend untold hours looking up obscure porn from around the world," he said. "I would just become a junkie and spend all evenings on my computer, and I deliberately don't want to do that."