Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Prodigy - Experience (1992)














This is certainly not an album I would normally endorse at first glance, but I'll do just that, simply because I love it and also because I would prefer to puncture any presuppositions anyone may have of me that I hate pop, country, or anything that isn't rock. (Actually, I loathe country, so pardon the retraction.) For those familiar with The Prodigy, you probably remember that controversial "Smack My Bitch Up" video, or maybe "Breathe" from the incessant play it used to receive on MTV -- when MTV used to play music videos. Fat Of The Land is still a pretty good album, as was its predecessor Music For The Jilted Generation, but Prodigy's best stuff begins with their first, this excellent gem from 1992. From the grandstand bit of piano exposition on "Wind It Up" to the dizzying breakbeats of "Music Reach 1/2/3/4" or the booming bass thumps from "Everybody In The Place (115 And Rising)," it's hard not to feel the jungle vibe, baby. Bells, whistles, chipmunk vocals, and even some notable samples -- "I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you fire" from Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's "Fire"-- the album is an eclectic and dense compendium of layered hooks and polyphonic electronic structures gone awry, all from the sprawling and prodigious brainwork of Liam Howlett, a classically trained pianist who makes his chops known more through composition than customary virtuoso playing. It's electronic, it's fascinatingly weird and it's devoid of guitars and a central singer. But if you like your tea difficult, which I do, these leaves simply originate from foreign lands but still taste quite good, especially when mixed with local cream. It'll take your brain to another dimension. Pay close attention. B+

19 comments:

Jeff said...

I haven't listened to Prodigy in years. My only memories are "Breathe" and "Fire Starter", both great songs.

bob_vinyl said...

The thing I remember about Prodigy is that they tried so hard to appear scary. They one of three bands that I ever turned around and walked away from live (the others being Tony Bennett and Limp Bizkit (twice)).

The Mad Hatter said...

Really? When did you see them? I wasn't fond of the more image-conscious campaign they put out during the Fat of the Land period. They tried to make their dancers seem like they were cool punks. Rave people are not punks. Punk is not a dancer. Punk is not cool. Punk is just punk. It was quite annoying. I think their music rules, though.

taotechuck said...

I judged this band wholly on their "Firestarter"/"Smack My Bitch Up" era music. Music that is, as you would say, gobbidge. With all due respect, Jeff, "Firestarter" is to good electronica/dance music what Manischewitz is to a fine Bordeaux.

But I've not heard Experience, so I guess I should take a listen instead of dismissing the band based on a couple of really, really, really, really stupid albums.

The Mad Hatter said...

Whether you still judge it to be gobbidge or not, the Experience and even Jilted-era music is night and day compared to "Firestarter" and "Smack My Bitch Up." You might still hate it, but I've said my piece. I don't really know how to defend them anyway, hehe, since they're kind of an anomaly for me.

BigVoltaBalls said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BigVoltaBalls said...

First off I would like to make a point. Who in their right mind would make the mistake of seeing Limp Bizkit twice. secondly, Fred Durst is a fucking tool. I dont even play an instrument and when i was eleven i had more musical talent in one of my prepubescent pubic hairs. ugh, he pisses me off. Lastly you will find them fondling with pitchforks in a cattle prodded sea signaling the sedatives to emaciate their queen...so hah!

BigVoltaBalls said...

Oh shit, Almost forgot 115 and rising will destroy your face if you try listening to it more than 36 times in a row...........seriously i have no face.

bob_vinyl said...

I didn't see them on purpose. The first time was when they were unknown and they played the Warped Tour. The second was at a fest with otherwise decent bands. It was bad luck, not bad judgment.

BigVoltaBalls said...

Nice backpedal, I forgive you.

bob_vinyl said...

Well, thank God for that!

Starrlight said...

So much love for The Prodigy. I like all phases of The P - early to Fat of the Land. Rave is not for everyone. Orbital and Chemical Brothers were damn good too. And Crystal Method.

The Mad Hatter said...

Nice for dropping in my tottering, plume-plucked clapper-claw coxcomb of a brother; and thanks for your artful, insightful and timely words of wisdom, expressed, as ever, coherently. A word of advice, though: 'tis unwise, methinks, to criticise Bob when you're the one who owned that Chocolate Starfish album. And don't backpedal by giving me that "I was young and dumb" schtick. Capeesh? If not, let me spell it out for you: shut the fuck up. And play nice. Everyone's an adult here. Let's keep it that way by being critical, and not stupidly personal. Oh, and that Radiohead concert was amazing! Just thought I'd let you know. Again. For the fifth time. Thanks for looking out, man; make sure to get that Radiohead B-sides album, eh?

taotechuck said...

Oh goodness. Radiohead b-sides? What, because the a-sides are so fanfuckingtastic? "Mumble mumble mumble, wank wank wank, ripoff Brian Eno, whine whine whine, ripoff Pink Floyd, math math math."

Yes, I've implied that "math" is a verb. As in "to math." In Radiohead's case, I think it's fair. "Man, Radiohead totally mathed the first song on In Rainbows."

The Mad Hatter said...

Hater.

Actually, that b-sides suggestion was an inside joke. BigVoltaBalls was quite upset with my insistent rubbing in of the concert that, being the nice person I am, I conconcted some consolation for him in the form of some unheralded, soon-to-be-released Radiohead b-sides album which never existed. As usual, I let him down gently, and he hates me even more.

And yes, their b-sides, in general, are still excellent. How you would distinguish that in the crunching of your math numbers, I'll never know. But everyone, every band, every country, fig tree, lemonade stand and carafe have haters. And Radiohead has you. Bravo, Chuck!

bob_vinyl said...

I'm with Chuck too. They had two great albums that I hear in younger bands all the time. Their foray into ambient electronica was a disaster even if it was a bold move commercially. Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows seemed refreshing only because Kid A, etc were so bad (not quite Fs, perhaps, but solid Ds), but there's actually a lot bands out there who pick up where Radiohead left off as a good band and do a better job than Radiohead these days.

The Mad Hatter said...

Another hater. Ouch. It's all good. Radiohead, like any other band, is good for some and not for others. I agree somewhat in that Kid A and Amnesiac aren't nearly as strong as any of their other albums. But HTTT and Rainbows are excellent albums, better even than the Bends, in my opinion. My big question, though, is: what bands do you have in mind when you say they have picked up where Radiohead left off and done better? While I definitely don't listen to as much new stuff as you would, where are these bands?

Starrlight said...

Oh Coldplay.

For. Sure.
.
.
.
.
.
I Kid!!!!

The Mad Hatter said...

Starr,

I positively doubt Coldplay is what Bob has in mind. I don't know him too too well, but I'm going to bet he doesn't offer those fuckers up as evidence. If he does, bad Bob, bad.