Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)

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Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)

1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: XL - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 05/01/2004 - 634904012120

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Review of "Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)"

published 30/01/2002 | craiggy_boy
Member since : 22/01/2001
Reviews : 52
Members who trust : 25
About me :
Super
Pro New, exciting, rash, uplifting
Cons A few weak tracks towards the end of the album
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Lyrics
How does it compare to the artist's other releases

"Filth Infatuated"

Let me take you back if I could, fellow Ciaoers, to a golden age that has long passed…

At this point, depending on your age and your location, you'll probably all be imagining different scenarios. Perhaps you're thinking of you're long gone upbringing in a thriving Yorkshire town, where you had to work from 6 in the morning till 6 at night down't pit or in't mill, for 2 and 6 a week, with only a few slices of blackened bread and whatever you could gouge from under your fingernails for lunch. Or perhaps you were a jolly wartime Cockney lad/lass, walking down the Old Kent Road or sitting in a Smokey and pokey bar, where a cheerful looking fat man hammered out the 2 chord versions of wartime classics such as Leaning On A Lamp-post on a piano that has seen better days …

Now this may come as a surprise to many, but I'm afraid I'm far to young to be remembering all this caboodle, hell, I can't even claim that The Graduate was a soft porn classic when I was a lad, because quite frankly, when I was a lad, transformers and Sam Fox's breasts were everything that a teenage lad would want to grow up with. No, I'm talking about a golden age of music - not the 60s, where all the best bands making all the best music smoked copious amounts of ganja and dropped more pills than a pensioner; not the glam-rock influenced 70s where people thought it amusing to call everyone "Boys and girls!" and dressed in studded leather; not even the 80s where Duran, Jacko and Madonna ruled and we all fancied that girl out of Flight Of The Navigator….


We're talking 90s here, the era of my youth, and more principally, the early to mid 90s, where people actually still knew how to make good uplifting music without having to shout "Boh!" at random intermittent moments. Let's go back to 1990, and introduce Liam Howlett, Keith Flint, Leroy and Maxim - better known as those crazy Essexers, The Prodigy. The lads formed in 1990, but didn't actually become widely acclaimed until a few years later, upon the release of their first hit album - Experience. By this time, the rave scene was absolutely huge, warehouses and deserted industrial estate attics were being monopolised as the followers of the smiley acid face gathered to make merry and dance all night. Howlett's Charly and Wind it Up were stretching the fabric of speaker cones to their limits up and down the country - things couldn't be better…

The Prodigy are one of those bands that can be argued to have orchestrated a musical movement, for although after a few years they had become pretty mainstream, they were one of the main acts responsible for bringing rave and old school music to the masses. Indeed, they're one of those bands that you just can't imagine not having - without Massive Attack and Portishead, there would have been no trip-hop; without Goldie and Bukem, there would have been no popularised drum 'n bass, without Altern 8 and Ratpak, there would have been no rave; and without The Prodigy …. Well, it doesn't bear thinking about really does it - all those things we would have missed out on.

As the Prodigy grew as a leading force in rave/techno music, the times were advancing and in 1995, their second album, Music For The Jilted Generation hit the shelves. Now by this time, the rave scene had begun to dwindle, and was being replaced with an upsurge in vocal house and early trance music (the likes of Age of Love, Jam & Spoon and JX). The lads had to change their image and their music, and this second album offered much more variety - from the 150BPM floor shaking No Good (still a classic to this day) to the aggressive and rapped out Poison, the album was heralded to be something new and original: until, that is, 1997 …

This was a pretty bad year for music all in all, due to the up rise of one of my all time musical enemies - speed garage. I just hadn't got time for it, and somewhat understandably neither had a large number of other people, so we were in search of something totally different. Then came Fat of The Land. At this time, the big beat/break beat movement was beginning to gather pace, with relatively newest acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim trying to grab the limelight; but none were as successful as this 3rd studio release. With Fire Starter, the first thumping single from the album topping charts world wide, the boys were bound to be on to a winner.

Right from the first 30 seconds of the opener, Smack My Bitch Up, you just know that this LP is gonna be a belter. Pacey, confrontational and with some splendid bass driven accompaniment, Smack My Bitch Up screams at you from the speakers until you're standing there grinning like a loon and feeling totally evacuated of any sadness or regrets. The video, which was banned in most countries, featuring scenes of domestic violence and people wondering around aimlessly, totally off their faces, was also a controversial spark for an album and a band that dared to go that one step further in order to achieve that higher level of musical oneness.

Note: This op does Not endorse or glamorise domestic violence or the taking of illegal substances - if you are easily offended, this album is probably not for you.

No sooner has the strains of the introductory track faded then we're treated to what is probably one of the band's modern classics - Breathe. How many of you remember Groove Is In The Heart by D Lite? Well lol this song sounds nothing like that, but it has had a similar effect in clubs and discos where although it is hugely popular, you wouldn't dare to call it cheesy cos it's just too good for that. Although slightly slower and more sinister in tone, Breathe is no less energising or frantic and is a good preview as to what the album is going to offer in the future.

You see, it's quite hard to pin down the actual style of this album. I've heard it described as techno, which is slightly laughable and I've heard it described as a collection of funky breaks which I spose is a bit more feasible. Keith Flint himself said that he was trying to create a blend of multiple styles, so what the Fat of The Land offers is a hash of breaks, guitar power chords, crisp sampling, snapshots of oriental flavour and aggressive vocals that occasionally verge on the compressed Trent Reznor (from Nine Inch Nails) approach. Despite being nominated for a 1998 Grammy in the best rock album category, this album isn't rock, it isn't dance, it lies somewhere in between the two in such a way that it appeals to those on either side of the great divide.

From this point on, the album maintains a suitable high level of consistency. From the slow and Minimal industrial rapped epic that is Diesel Power to the boding and syncopated Mindfields (featured on The Matrix soundtrack) and even the ironically groovy (complete with 70s sampling) Funky Shit, the album delivers over an hour of raw musical fusion.

It's all quite a bit far fetched when you think about it - I mean, who'd have thought that it would work? It'd be true that a lot of the success of the album can be put down to the superb production skills of Liam Howlett whose ability behind a mixer and sampler had been illustrated for coming on a decade, but the LP offers the listener the chance to just let go of all their hang ups and be outrageous for an hour. I have read some reviews of this album (from Americans I must add - what do you guys know about British electronica and techno music? ;)) that have slated this album for its lack of variation and originality. Now the lack of variation I can tolerate - a lot of the songs are quite similar in style and structure, but then isn't that what you want when you buy an artist's album - there's nothing more annoying than buying an album on the strength of a few singles, only to find that the rest of it goes off in a totally different direction! However, unoriginal I cannot tolerate, put these lads who have been in the music industry for over 10 years now, and Britney Spears side by side and figure out for yourself what original is ;).

So, to conclude, I would say that we have a fine collection of tracks here and if you're into dance music, or rock music, or just fancy pointing your musical expansions in an alternative direction, this is definitely one worth hunting down. I'll admit that it isn't exactly cheap anywhere I've seen it, I had to convince myself to fork out £15 for this little gem but it was money well spent - in fact, I'm off to hunt down some of their older releases for bargain prices :).

IF YOU LIKE THIS, THEN YOU'LL LOVE:
Chemical Brothers - Dig your own hole
Massive Attack - Mezzanine

THE TAIMER OPTION:
Faithless - Sunday 8PM
Groove Armada - Vertigo

Cheers for reading!

Craig - January 2002

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Comments on this review

  • Cheekychicken published 18/04/2002
    I adore Prodigy, top class, like chemical brothers too but not MA, sorry, LOL. Have you got a playlist for our evening worked out yet, told you my musical taste was rather diverse!
  • TallTone published 05/02/2002
    Good review and great background on Braintree's finest. I myself was on the rock side of the divide and this reawakened my interest in dance generally... TT.
  • edd101 published 30/01/2002
    This album is just so class and the video to smack my bitch up is pure genuis. Great op, well done.Edd.
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Product Information : Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)

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1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: XL - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 05/01/2004 - 634904012120

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EAN: 634904012120

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