Kasabian – Velociraptor!
By Andrew David James
Oasis - Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
By Andrew David James
South West 4 Festival
Sunday August 28th
Does a review of South West 4 belong in a rock magazine? This was the question asked of me by a couple of girls in the queue at the festival. Well, there were some heavy sounds emanating from the tents and seeing that the headline band also performed at this year’s Download rock festival, I would say this is not out of place.
The Sophomore Slump?
To the memory of two rock stars who died young
Mea maxima culpa. I've been finishing a novel for the last decade or so and recently got selfish about completing it. Rokpool was one of the things that suffered so I was fiddling around with some ideas for a warm-up article and something lightly polemic for summer reading. It happened to be Saturday the 23rd of July, portentously the eve of my late and (by and large) lamented father's 80th birthday.
ENTERING THE LABYRINTH
The Prodigy might as well be called The Paradigm, their story so closely follows some kind of Spinal Tap rock and roll ideal. Formed around 1990 by driving genius, writer, and producer Liam Howlett, the live act featured a key member of the band whose sole role was live dancer – surely a first – Keith Flint.
Often shortened to “Experience” (the name this article will use), their first album more properly called “The Prodigy Experience” was released in 1992. Echoing the emergence of what was then known as the Pink Floyd sound in the mid-sixties, The Prodigy were already a well established and acclaimed live act on the underground and rave scene in the early nineties. Despite the controversy that surrounds the band, with its drug and drug culture overtones, and the subsequent somewhat irrelevant “Smack My Bitch Up” furore, the live success clearly instilled excellent music and musicianship skills, and some kind of upside down puritan work ethic underscores their development into the band that produced an era defining album in “Music For The Jilted Generation” (1994). If “Experience” brought heavy dance into the mainstream, which it did, “Music For The Jilted Generation” was iconic, and is a landmark album in its own right. Messianically, it charted at #1.
The Prodigy were on their way to combined critical and commercial Nirvana.
The Prodigy’s third album, “The Fat Of The Land” (1997), has like its predecessor become an acknowledged straight five star album, essential to an understanding of modern rock music, and is frequently listed in the low numbers of the most important album of all time. There is a “Sticky Fingers”/”Beggars Banquet”/”Exile On Main Street”, argument about whether this or “Fat of The Land” is their best to date, and it’s a fair argument, but for me the appearance of Keith Flint elevated from dancer to lead vocalist (echoes of Sid Vicious?) clinches it for “The Fat Of The Land”. With “The Fat Of The Land” like its immediate excellent co-releases, such as “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory” (Oasis). “OK Computer” (Radiohead), “Parklife” (Blur), and of course The Verve’s “Urban Hymns” , The Prodigy peel off killer tracks like some kind of instant “Greatest Hits”. What an era.
Hardly a jilted generation. I will never forget listening to “The Fat Of The Land” for the first time. The hype was so great, and the sound so different, I set aside time to listen to the album for the first time, to make up my mind if it was worth all the fuss , and it was, and how. The Prodigy had defied gravity and had followed what for lesser bands might have been in “Music For The Jilted Generation” a defining album. I made myself revisit “Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned” (2004) and “Invaders Must Die” (2009) as prep for this article. Like Radiohead before them, with "OK Computer" they suffer from an equivalent to they’re not “OK Computer”. But by re-exploring their rave dance roots, The Prodigy have rediscovered themselves as one of the world’s great live acts. Perhaps they’re not as innovative as they were, but who is, and is innovation really relevant in an art form that’s about to be sixty?
My own feeling is that their latest two albums are more than adequate additions to a great stable. The Prodigy’s current status is that they have avoided “The Fat Of The Land” pastiche, and they’ve certainly got at least one more landmark album in them. I suspect more.
Only the scant legacy that is Joy Division and the seminal The Velvet Underground join The Prodigy in having their complete works on my i-Pod. The Prodigy and Radiohead are by a country mile the most important bands still active from the golden era of Brit Pop, and I await the next The Prodigy album with the same excitement as I awaited the previous two.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com