You've Come a Long Way, Baby is the second studio album by the English big beat musician Fatboy Slim, released on 19 October 1998 by Skint Records and Astralwerks. It was both a critical and commercial success, containing four top ten singles. The album was made at his home-studio The House of Love in Brighton. The album was re-released as a deluxe 2 CD edition in 2009 and as a single album in July 2015.
The album peaked at number one on the UK albums chart, number one in New Zealand, number two in Australia, and number thirty-four on the US Billboard 200. Four singles were released from the album: "The Rockafeller Skank", "Gangster Tripping", "Praise You", and "Right Here, Right Now", each of which reached the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. "Build It Up – Tear It Down" was also released as a promo, but not as a commercial single. The four singles from the album brought Fatboy Slim an international profile and You've Come a Long Way, Baby was described as his 'global break-through album'. Its success earned him a Brit Award in 1999.
Right Here, Right Now
The Rockafeller Skank
Twelve years on from the release of this second album, some things have inevitably changed. A lifetime away from hard-partying origins, Norman Cook's raised two kids, celebrated a celebrity marriage, reconciled a celebrity marriage, hit the bottle, beat the bottle and, when he had the time, released heady collections of genre-defining anthems. At times, Cook's life has played out replete with typical DJ cliches. But his place in the dance music annals as Fatboy Slim has long been confirmed.
You've Come a Long Way, Baby set the quintessential tone for Fatboy's future; an album rich with the booming, easy-on-the-ear potential that would soundtrack dancefloors for over a decade. Packing in rave reminiscences, loops, breaks and an endless array of choice samples, the formula wasn't a complicated one, but it was one used to superlative effect.
Take the rabid commercial success of The Rockafeller Skank, the uplifting gospel-tinged Praise You and the explosive Gangster Trippin' (each ably supported by memorable videos), and the Fatboy blueprint is clear. And the holy trinity can be seen as the catalyst for a career of stellar success. By hook (and it was often an incessantly catchy one) or design, this was also an album that lit the torch paper for Cook's biggest criticism: that he was merely a musical magpie, pilfering the shiniest, choice cuts to make his own creations glisten.
Attempts to relegate Cook to a petty music thief was always a disrespectful low blow, and one that looked to undermine, instead of celebrate, a penchant for recycling and absorbing a glut of disparate styles under the inimitable (at the time) Fatboy banner. But with the benefit of retrospect, it's clear You've Come a Long Way, Baby wasn't an album in the collective sense, more of a sparkling showcase; a flattering production line of instant, accessible songs that delivered almost every time.
It's easy to overlook the hedonistic energy of Love Island; the expletive-ridden simplicity of F***ing in Heaven - which delighted a generation of potty-mouthed teenagers - and the bristling, adrenalin drip of Right Here, Right Now, simply because there was always the potential and intent for each track to usurp what preceded.
Undeniably this is an album that's aged, but it reflects the buoyant excitement of pre-millennial times. Whether it's held up as a contemporary guilty pleasure or an increasingly fond classic, or whatever the context, You've Come a Long Way, Baby has never failed to immediately delight.