Friday, October 20, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 33: The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land

Album - The Fat of the Land
Artist - The Prodigy
Key Players - Keith Flint (vocals/dancer) Liam Howlett (keyboards), Maxim (vocals/dancer)
Produced By - Liam Howlett

Release Date - July 1, 1997

What caused me to blow off the dust? - A few co-workers and I were discussing this very album and it was suggested I take a stab at it. Lets see if they read and comment...

Overview - This was the third album released by the band. Keith Flint (the one that most people probably think of when they think of the Prodigy) had done a drastic make over to himself and the band was "harder" than ever before. The band found mainstream success with this record in both the US and the UK. The videos became staples to MTV and the songs were club hits. The band would grace the cover of Spin and there was talk for a bit of "techno" being the next big genre after grunge. The album would become the fastest selling album in the U.K at the time and garner the band a grammy nomination.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with one of the bands most infamous songs "Smack My Bitch Up". The band was slagged in the media for its supposed derogatory language directed towards women but the band has said it was a poke at "gangta rap" and also slang for doing something "wild and crazy". At a festival show in Europe the Beastie Boys implored the band to not perform the song live, they did anyway. With heavy synth, electric drum beats and swirling vocals towards the end you will be reaching for a tab of ecstasy and a glow stick before you know it. "Breathe" was the first proper single off the record in the US. What drives this song, like most "techno" songs is the bass. Even with the treble all the way up you still can feel the kick. The video also put faces to names and Keith Flint did not miss a beat with his horned hair and running mascara. "Diesel Power" and the intro alone could be and should be used in every vampire film from this day forward. The song has a very fluid beat and there is more a straight up "rap" approach lyrically, the biggest reason is the vocals were done by Ultramagnetic MCs member Kool Keith. The band had used a sample from Ultramagnetic MCs "Give the Drummer Some for "Smack My Bitch Up" so the Prodigy had Keith sing vocals. "Funky Shit" opens with a sample of The Beastie Boys song "Root Down" speaking those very words it then sounds like a lost track from the Blade Runner sound track. "Serial Thrilla" follows and is the true hidden jem on the record. With a heavy sample lifted from the UK band Skunk Anansie the band allows the sample to be the driving portion of the song rather than a sample dropped in on occasion. Filled out with simple keyboard parts and distorted vocals the band just do not back down. "Mindfields" starts of slower than the previous tracks but after a few bars has a haunting keyboard part similar to what you'd hear on a modern version of the Halloween motion pictures. The song is not as urgent as other tracks on the record this works well as the track proceeds to "Naryan" which also happens to be the albums longest track at over 9 minutes. This is a rare feat for any band, let alone a techo/dance band. Barring some chanting that takes place about 6 minutes in to the song they are not really breaking much ground. "Firestarter" gets the listener right back in the groove of the record. With the hardest hitting down beat you'd be hard pressed to not bob your head or slam your fist down right along with the band. On a critical listen of this track and a life long fan of The Cult I am convinced that there is a guitar part lifted from them as a sample. I can find no proof of this in the liner notes or on line..the song does credit a Breeders track called "S.O.S". Still I am gonna go with the Cult as being on there. "Climbatize" has an intro that sounds a lot like a digitized "Baba O'Reilly" that is until the tribal drum beat comes in. It is also the only fully instrumental track on the album. "Fuel my Fire" wraps up the record on a downer. Its not a slow song, but its kinda an ehh way to end a record this fun.

Where are they now? - The band is still together although it seems quiet. The did release a few records after this (the dirtchamber sessions was a DJ mash up) while the album Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned was released in 2004. It was not even close to the success of the the Fat of the Land on the US shores. The band is working on a new record due in 2007.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Never saw the band live. Although the energy is probably there, there is something about a "techno" live show that does not bode well with me personally. Leave a comment and express your agreement or disagreement.

for a while techno was going to be the next big thingin music

FDF Overall Take - For a while this techo/electronica phase was going to be the next big thing after grunge. There was a smattering of releases by various bands that did their best to make the genre debatable as less than a fad but that never materialized. For an intro to driving techo, and or the Prodigy this is one that most would reach for and rightfully so.


At 9:26 AM, Blogger Evil Speakers said...

Another nice choice and well done as always.

Liam Howlet is the mastermind of this release

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Code Name: Ryan said...

This album is important because it influenced all others to follow in this "genre."


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