53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A Monster Of The Nineties,
This review is from: Fat of the Land (Audio CD)
Anyone who experienced the music scene of the Nineties can surely remember The Prodigy as one of the most vivid acts of that decade. After releasing critically-acclaimed albums in the early 1990's such as "Music For The Jilted Generation," the British group went global with 1997's "Fat Of The Land." The hype and build-up for this album was absolutely incredible, having been preceded the year previously with two massive dance anthems which both hit No.1 in the UK and set new records.
The Fat Of The Land arrived in July 1997 like a tidal wave as a staggering 320,000 copies were sold in the UK in its first week (this would be around 1,600,000 if it had sold the same ratio in the US because America's population is five times that of the UK). This figure does pale somewhat in comparison to Oasis' "Be Here Now" which sold 700,000 in 72 hours in the UK alone a month later, but the statistics are still extraordinary; the music scene in the 1990's was like nothing seen since the 1960's, because here was a new generation, open, free, expressing themselves, and buying music in droves. The Prodigy were a part of that most definitely.
The Fat Of The Land boasts ten tracks of fast-paced, hyper, adrenaline-fuelled anthems; a mish mash of Techno, Heavy Metal, Dance and Electronica. Critics were not quite sure what to make of this album, because it was unlike anything that preceded it. Definitely ground-breaking, but not quite a perfect album.
It opens with the deliberately controversial "Smack My Bitch Up." This song had women's rights groups up in arms, and rightly so. The lyrical content is not something I agree with, but the song itself is a masterpiece of hard-hitting techno-driven beats, and the female vocal section in the middle is incredible. The video is also very interesting, with a twist that makes you think about your preconceived notion of men as being evil and greedy pigs. "Breathe" became the band's second UK No.1 in November 1996. This is an amazing song with a hardcore beat and a very heavy chorus. The beats are raw and rough, almost steely with a whip-like rhythm section that scars itself along the intro. "Diesel Power" is a great song that has a foot-stomping beat that crashes through your headphones. With industrial beats crashing all over the bass, this is a very memorable song due to the hip-hop raps. "Funky S**t" is another great song that just blows me away every time I hear it. A lot of people don't seem to like this song, but I really like the way the deep bass is mixed with the static beats that pulsate along, all the way through.
"Serial Thriller" is an amazing song with very industrial beats that sound like sirens at a power plant. This is quite a heavy song that reminds me more of hardcore rock bands than anything, and the vocals are quite brilliant. "Mindfields" is probably my least favourite song on the album, but it's also probably the most electronic song on the album. The beats are rather fuzzy and scattered here which gives this effect. "Narayan" is the longest song on the album at just over nine minutes. The song is very different to anything else on the album because it has a clear and bright beat that just flows through your brain. The song actually features an ancient Hindu prayer towards the end, which is so unusual; to see this hardcore techno-rock song mixed with such a religious statement. Towards the end, the song becomes all mixed up until you can hardly pick it apart, before the beat rises to a climax, and then...
Ah, then comes the real star of the album. It is of course "Firestarter," and it is without a doubt one of the most popular songs in the UK of all time. This song stormed to No.1 in the UK in early 1996 and put the band at the forefront of the British music scene. This song scared grannies, infuriated protective parents, and made millions of teenagers all over the country go crazy with joy! The video to this song has to be seen to be believe, a true classic' the song is dirty, gritty and so anthemic. "Climbatize" is one of my favourite songs on the album, but it doesn't seem to get much recognition. I'm not sure why this is, maybe because it's an instrumental track, but this shouldn't distract from how brilliant it is. The song opens gently with a distant beat that grows heavier and louder until a full rhythm section is dancing and darting its way all over the set. Imagine watching the sun rise as you listen to this, it's amazing. The album closes with "Fuel My Fire," which is a cover version of the L7 original. This song is very heavy and dark and reminds more of the Sex Pistols.
OVERALL GRADE: 9/10
And there you have it, an album that was intended for the dance floor, but completely transcends the genre. The music on this album will always be remembered for being completely original and unique, like nothing before it and, because it also now sounds slightly dated, like nothing in the future. Keith Flint would take a further seven years to release the follow-up to this album. Maybe he just couldn't get it right, who knows. This album isn't perfect, and it's certainly not my favourite of 1997; Radiohead's "OK Computer" and Bjork's "Homogenic" run circles around it. It is, still, a great album and one that I feel is worthy of a place on any music lover's shelf, if not for the nostalgia.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 13, 2006, 8:32:48 PM PST
Great review, but I felt compelled to mention that "Smack My Bitch Up" was about drug use and not violence. However, given that a huge number of listeners weren't clued in on this, the song must have sounded quite misogynist and it was quite appropriate for feminists of all stripes to make a big deal about it.
Posted on Dec 14, 2009, 3:47:10 AM PST
good review, this was a rave motherload back then.
Posted on Apr 21, 2012, 1:27:45 PM PDT
For such a detailed review it is strange that the reviewer doesn't know who actually writes The Prodigy's songs.
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