Prodigy emerged from the bedroom and mind of Liam Howlett in 1990, just as the electronic and rave scene was learning how to dance with glow sticks. Most U.S. dance fans knew of them from their mega album, Fat of the Land. But the Brits were more than aware of their power. Prodigy already had two albums (1992’s Experience and 1995’s Music For A Jilted Generation) and a list of singles by the time people on this side of the pond were freakin’ to “Firestarter.”
The band’s identity was no coincidence, as songwriter and producer Howlett came to the game with more than two turntables and a microphone. Equipped with the punk rebellion of Keith Flint, Howlett’s musical history that began at the piano and trailed over into ‘80s hip-hop, and the other band members Maxim and Leeroy, Prodigy ventured away from the electronic DJ scene of raves and parties and instead, went the way of stage and venues to further escalate their explosive electronic rock antics.
Having seen the group years ago, I can testify that it was the right move. A singles collective of this sort would be incomplete without those live tracks, and they’ve got all the favorites, including their own on-the-fly mash up of “Spitfire.” And Old school hip-hop beanstalk sprouts to the sky on “Girls,” sparking visions Brooklyn based parties in the late ‘70s.
“Razor” pulses with Led Zeppelin palpitations and the guitar rock tornado remix of “Voodoo People” (which was also a hit on the Hackers soundtrack, along with “One Love”) reminds you of your own blood pressure. The Audio Bullys remix of “Out of Space” throws a grim spit shine on its rough surface, moving slow with a clubby dub smoke screen before flipping the switch to vibrate the dancefloor and your ass.
This 2-CD set is fantastic way to start the New Year, reflecting on the evolution of this band’s musical ventures that were also part of own personal, sweaty dance journeys. And for those of you unfamiliar with the breadth of Prodigy songs beyond the “Smack My Bitch Up” controversy (yet another media blemish from our society), buy yourself a belated Christmas present.