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 10/07/2011 | paulie1975
Member since : 13/05/2008
Reviews : 156
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Hi all, I am really trying my best to get the hang of this, please let me know if I need to return your rate and I will do so ASAP, I promise :)
Super
Pro Fast, furious, exciting, some outstanding tracks
Cons Lyrically shallow, some tracks have grown old disgracefully
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
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"A riveting adrenaline fuelled rush of an album"

Leeroy, Liam, Keith and Maxim looking mean and moody

Leeroy, Liam, Keith and Maxim looking mean and moody

Prodigious effort which has a few wrinkles with age

Fat of the Land was the third album by The Prodigy. Released in 1997 this was probably their biggest commercial album breaking America and the rest of the world and confirming them to be more than a rave DJ, and MC and a couple of ropey dancers.

This is probably my third favourite but has been widely acknowledged as their most creative, it went to number 1 in a number of countries including the UK, US and Australia. It went double platinum in the US selling over 2 million copies and was nominated for a Grammy and the Mercury Music prize.

It is an experimental album in many ways melding the beats and samples obtained and mixed by Liam Howlett with guest vocals from famous MC's and singers, this has subsequently been a format used by bands such as the Gorrilaz and UNKLE. Because of this, at times it sounds like a selection of guest tracks rather than an album bound together by any one strand, but most of the elements are very good, some are exceptional, so you can't really complain.

The Tracks


Track 1 - Smack my Bitch Up

This is a cracking start to the album with the sample taken from the Ultramagnetic MC's (who appear on the album), this is obviously quite controversial and was designed to shock (It did so receiving multiple complaints from Women's care groups, quite rightly), the video which accompanies it is a classic piece of music cinema and well worth watching, with a wicked twist at the end, but obviously only if you are over 18, as it is a bit rude!!!

The song is excellent with the excellent sample, the guitar undertone and a punky electronic vibe, this is a really good song which sets the tone for the album referencing both punk and electronica and trying to move further away from the rave movement with which the band were originally associated. The mix of the sample with the pounding guitars and bass really should set the tone for an exceptional album.

Track 2 - Breathe

Another of the classics on this album, introducing Keith Flint as a vocalist, using the bands MC, Maxim for the refrains and Keith for the chorus this is a revved up and fun song which works well in clubs, gyms or in your living room, high octane, adrenaline fuelled, this song is possibly my favourite on the album, there is a Wu Tang sample on the track but its easily covered up by the breathless vocals mixing ragga tinged MC'ing with Keith's punky essex shouting vocal, its fun, fast, furious and possibly one of the best songs the band ever made. After this song the album is flying and if it continued like this, it could be one of the all time greats.

Track 3 - Diesel Power

Funky bass with Kool Keith MC'ing over the top this has got a catchy chorus and a superb beat but is one of the weaker songs on the album, the rapping is quality as is the music but for some reason it doesn't grab like the more controversial songs mixing more punk and dance cultures.

After the first two tracks this song slows the album down and in many ways, this is where the album loses some of its cohesion as it doesn't really sound much like a Prodigy track, it sounds more like an Ultramagnetic MC track with Liam Howlett providing the beats. Lyrically this is easily the best song on the album and I would imagine the lyrics were written by the guesting MC, but even then these words won't trouble Bob Dylan.

Track 4 - Funky Shit

Sampling the Beastie Boys (The funky 'Root Down' from Ill Communication) for the chorus this is more of an instrumental with the songs title being shouted as a sample over the chorus, again its decent music and builds nicely to a funky climax but is not one of the better songs on the album and by this point the momentum has been all but lost

The song features a classic instrumental with a sampled refrain, but it has all been done before. If your a big fan of profanities this is for you, if you like good beats and samples you'll enjoy it, but its not something you'll come back to regularly for its content.

Track 5 - Serial Thrilla

'Damage destructor, crowd disruptor. Youth-corruptor, everytimer. Damage destructor, crowd disruptor'. That is the song summed up in every lyric, 7 words repeated make up this song, as much as the music is industrial, heavy and funky.

The lyrics are nonsensical and fairly pointless and this is simply a filler on the album, it is listenable but after some of the excellent songs on the album it feels like an afterthought and a chance for Keith to get more studio time rather than a valuable addition to the album.

Track 6 - Mindfields

This song starts with Maxim screaming the refrain 'This is dangerous, open up your head feel the shellshock', it is bass heavy with a fun chorus which reminds me of 'No Good' from the previous album 'Music for the jilted generation'. It's a decent enough song but sounds very similar to that track and doesn't continue half as dangerously as it would like you to think it does.

Track 7 - Narayan

One of those songs which floats around and takes about 7 minutes to get where it wants to be, I do remember this being a massive hit at the festivals the year it was released, with Crispian Mills of Kula Shaker on vocals it mixes some industrial beats with some Beatnik faux-indian hippie vocals to create quite an interesting song journey.

The chorus is hypnotic the rest of the vocals are decent if slightly nonsensical while the music moves between really good and a little bit worthy, a decent song nonetheless. I do have to say however, that this does sound a little similar to some of the more adventurous Chemical Brother songs of the era. Lyrically it is a load of old twaddle, but it is a really good song which builds up nicely and whilst a little long it does get crowds going!

Track 8 - Firestarter

Probably the song the band will always be best known for and definitely their best selling single, this was the first song to be released off the album and mixes the high energy of the previous album with the shouty punk musings of Prodigy dancer Keith Flint, the video was edgy, the song is edgy too.

It is fast, furious and definitely an album highlight, I have to admit the chorus does grate with me somewhat nowadays but nonetheless the structure of the song, its energy and commitment are excellent and it's a really enjoyable experience which raises the tempo of the whole experience again. This is one of the THE songs of the 1990's and it does help define British music during the era, a decent mixture of soft punk and electro, this does work and still sounds relevant today.

Track 9 - Climbatize

This sounds very much like the weather experience from the bands debut album, it is a 7 minute instrumental which is quite funky after about 2 minutes but is only really good for driving or playing Xbox, it is a very good instrumental with decent samples, but again slows the album down slightly and listening back you wonder what the point of it is.

It's a bit of a throwback to the first album in many ways and doesn't offer anything new, which is a shame.

Track 10 - Fuel my Fire

Possibly the punkiest song on the album in its attempt at attitude, fast drums and samples with Keith angrily shouting through a muffler, its fine but more suited to a reasonable pop punk band as this really is a pop take on punk rather than the real thing, shouty, angry but unconvincing.

A bit of a damp squib ending to the album which deflates you slightly, but being honest, I think 60 minutes of constant high paced adrenaline thumping bass could probably wear out even the most fervent raver, so it is understandable.


Summary

Overall I'd always viewed this as one of my favourite albums, but listening back to it, it hasn't aged as well as other old favourites like Ok Computer or even Sergeant Peppers. There are some great songs, Breathe, Firestarter and Smack my bitch up being amongst them, Narayan is a great experiment which mostly works, and having seen it live it is exceptional live. Diesel Power and Climbatize are good while Fuel my Fire and Mindfields are a bit average and sound like a pop band as much as a hardcore dance explosion.

The music is similar to their previous and subsequent albums which is disappointing, the use of Keith is good but guest appearances from Kool Keith and Crispian Mills do add something as his vocal range is incredibly limited and the lyrics for what they are on a number of the tracks are childlike at best.

This has been voted one of the great albums of the nineties and I think this was justified but, and this is a big but, this was voted in the nineties and I do think this album hasn't aged quite as well as some of its peers, when you listen to the album you can hear remnants of their previous work as well as a raft of samples, the lyrics are basic at most, the music whilst still pretty heavy and exciting does feel a bit slower to me nowadays and I still don't think this is as good as 'Music for the Jilted Generation' or 'The Prodigy Experience'.

I would temper these comments by the fact that the first two albums were new, exciting and breaking through the mainstream as rave kicked off whereas this album is much more commercial and whilst referencing old skool rap and hip hop, much more often contemporises punk pop with electronica. This is a more polished affair than the first two albums and the mix of samples, guest vocals and throbbing beats is still exciting and well constructed today.

The album has some definite highlights and 'Breathe' especially is still vibrant and exciting today, 'Narayan' is a really interesting journey of a song and 'Firestarter' is still worth hearing for the frivolity of it. A really good album, and one which I still listen to some songs from, but some of the songs haven't aged brilliantly and this could have been better, however, this was their bestselling album, and having bought their most recent effort, it probably will remain so, it wants to be edgy, but can't match its predecessor for raw energy and excitement.

I will rate this album 4 out of 5, as most of the songs are really good with a couple of exceptional ones, I won't rate it 5, simply as I don't think it is the bands best album, but this is a purely personal view, based on what the previous two albums meant to me growing up.

The album is available pretty much anywhere that sells good music, my copy cost £9.99 from Virgin Megastore when it came out, now you can download it or buy it on Amazon Marketplace for £1.13, which I would definitely recommend doing.

Final Stats

Best Song - Breathe

Worst Song - Fuel my Fire

Best Lyric - Hard to find, this is an album about energy rather than lyrical precision

Worst Lyric - I walk through mindfields so watch your head rock.....wooshock (Mindfields)

Best Sample - Give the Drummer Some - Ultramagnetic MC's (Smack my Bitch Up)

Greatest Strength - The Energy, pace and adrenaline fuelled rush that is this album.

Greatest Weakness - Lyrics and some of the songs haven't aged gracefully

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Comments on this review

  • Novabug published 11/07/2011
    Agree with most of what you say. My fave is Narayan, but your spot on with Fuel my Fire, possibly the worse Prodigy track ever, but a terrific Album. :D
  • kevin121 published 10/07/2011
    Not one I would enjoy, but I did quite like Firestarter at the time.
  • Drewster-Rooster published 10/07/2011
    Fab review, the video for Smack my Bitch up is clever I agree and very memorable
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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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