Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)
1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: XL - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 05/01/2004 - 634904012120
25 reviews from the community
Review of "Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)"
After the magnificence of 'Music for the Jilted generation', The Prodigy reached a crossroads. Liam Howlett had created two genre-defining and timeless albums, packed with ingenuity and phat beats, but what next?
Howlett decided to experiment with turning up the aggression, and taking the guitar addition a step further, incorporating Keith Flint's sneering Johnny Rotten-style vocals to the beats, fusing hard dance and rock together for an album that was to push The Prodigy right up to the peak of British musical acts and popular culture.
The group themselves had redefined their image, with Flint obviously shaving and colouring his bizarre hair as well as having antisocial facial piercings to create a rather intimidating vocal and visual presence. Liam Howlett seemed to grow in stature, but remained a mute, rather languid, imposing background figure, with short-cropped, bleached hair, and a nose ring.
Maxim just took his previous image a stage further. His 'cat's eye' contact lenses were supplemented with aggressive face paint, tattoos, and, strangely enough, a cane for the 'Breathe' video, giving him the appearance of a demented circus freak!
Leeroy just kept his gangly, ice-cool posture, with a goatee and chin stud, as well as the omni-present shades.
1) 'Smack my bitch up'
This opener is pure class, stretching the envelope most definitely. Half aggressive beats, half spoofish guitar and synth samples, we open with a twanging guitar loop, and then cut to very low-frequency drum beats, before the trademark bassy synth cuts in. More tremendous high-pitched 'alarm' synths follow. The classic vocal sample is lifted from 'Give the drummer some' by the Ultramagnetic MC's, with one of Liam Howlett's fave hip-hop MC's Kool Keith providing the vocals. After a couple of 'choruses', we cut to a swirling 'psychadelic' soundscape, all paranoid chiming and female wails, before another blast of;
"Change my picture, smack my bitch up"
The strange frequencies on the bass will definitely test your speakers' equalisers!
One of the immortal singles from the band, this was a lot better than 'Firestarter', and more anthemic. It's also the only Prodigy track to involve both Keith and Maxim on vocals. With a sinister string sample guiding, and edgy drums, this track is exciting stuff. Keith and Maxim spit vocals out in a lyrical sparring session. Classic Flint line of;
"Cuuuuuummm play moi gaaaaaaame!"
makes this an invincible slice of hard-dance fused with rock.
3) 'Diesel Power'
This appeared on some kind of soundtrack. It is another collaboration with Kool Keith, and is basically a slow-tempo grinder of a track, with very heavy bass, and a very slow, industrial beat. Kool Keith raps over the whole track, and lets us know that 'Diesel Power';
"......blows your mind drastically fantastically!" An excellent track to follow the mighty 'Breathe'.
Continuing the superb run of tracks is this little gem. Sampling a supreme Beastie Boys line:
"Oh my God, that's the funky shit!",
and throwing in another couple of sound effects and/or excerpts, this is a brilliantly relentless bit of hard dance that at times makes you laugh. It's 'boogie-disco' beat, and the "Hey!" vocal effects are hilarious at times, but it just adds to the brilliance of this stonking tune. After four-and-a-bit minutes of madness, we break to a swirling, pulsating mess of noise, and then a continuous one-note synth bleep, that melts into our next track.
5) 'Serial Thrilla'
This samples the Skunk Anansie track 'Selling Jesus', and the music is hypnotic and well-structured. Unfortunately, the vocals, and particularly lyrics, are not up to scratch, from Mr Flint. His delivery is fairly suitable, but the lyrics are meaningless, especially with the chorus, which probably sounded great when Keith wrote it, but sounds worse the more you listen to it;
"Serial Thrilla, serious killer!"
Not a memorable moment, it ends on the same synth bleep from whence it came.
I believe this appeared on the soundtrack to one of 'The Matrix' films. It's a slow-burning but hypnotic beat-filled dream of a track. Paranoia and unease course through it's veins, but it is a seriously good edgy dance track.
Dreamy keyboard/synthesiser opening is accompanied by a tight drum pattern, before Crispian Mills cuts in with some hazy vocals for this trancey effort. After about four-and-a-half minutes of constant vocals and beats, the drums slow right down, and Mills cuts into what sounds like an aboriginal chant interpretation of the name of the song. More tranceness ensues, then we break down to a dominant drum pattern to end the track, clocking in at over nine minutes!
What do i need to say? Everyone's heard this surely. A great combination of schizo loops and paranoid drums, allied to Keith Flint's sneering vocals about being a public menace, and you get a reinvention of titanic proportions. Oh, and a bit of a hit. One of those tracks that transcends the charts into public culture.
When you hear this tracks opening, you immediately think of the intro. to 'Out of Space', but it is slightly different, and lasts for about a minute, with a bit of 'scratch-warping' going on. The chilled-out opening is complemented after about a minute-and-a-half by some funky dark basslines. More layers of sound reveal themselves as the track progresses, and again there is an 'uneasy' vibe about this whole track, with some strange horns and ethnic instruments abound. Listen out for some fantastic 'rolling' percussion.
A cover here, or rather a remix. Howlett's drums and keyboards are peerless, but Flint's silly vocals and the choice of song in general could be a lot better. This unfortunately set the standard for the next single, the terrible 'Baby's got a temper'. Interesting points though; Saffron from Republica provides background vocals, and Mark from Soundgarden assists with drums on the whole album, so three big bands are represented. Strangely, Flint's OTT vocals are very low in volume, so they are swamped by the music, but this is probably a good thing. A loud but not very proud ending to a generally excellent album.
The inlet sleeve has a lot of cool artwork, and poses the question: 'Would you rather have butter or guns?' Answer: 'Preparedness makes us powerful, butter merely makes us fat'.So there you have it. Progressive but not perfect, this was the last anyone would hear of the mighty Prodigy (as far as original material) for five long years. And little did we know we would have to wait an astonishing SEVEN years for another album. See my review of 'Always outnumbered, never outgunned' for more details.
Product Information : Fat of the Land - Prodigy (The)
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: XL - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 05/01/2004 - 634904012120
Listed on Ciao since: 14/06/2000