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The Prodigy

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The Prodigy


The Prodigy always understood the need for visceral energy in dance music. What made them unique at the time of their debut in 1991 was the fusing of punk sounds and mores with the emergent acid house beats of the dancefloor. This glowstick-with-a-safety-pin-through-it attitude was made manifest by front man Keith Flint, a snarling manic Johnny Rotten for the club crowd, but the true soul of the group was techno boffin Liam Howlett. Liam was a local Essex DJ at a time when one could say the word rave without fear of scorn or imprisonment. He had seen the effect of a big track on the right crowd and was keen to try his hand at some original compositions. Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill had heard Liam spin and pestered him for mix tapes and examples of his songs. Before long they were working together, taking their name from Liam's Moog synthesizer. Their debut was "What Evil Lurks" (1991) but it was the second effort "Charly" (1991) that made the big impact, going to No. 3 in the UK charts. "Fire" (1991) also made the Top-20, after which they released their debut long player The Prodigy Experience (1992), which sold over 1 million copies in the UK alone. By now word was out about their live performances -- an intense combination of Tubeway Army style keyboard-lurking (Liam) and full-on mental moshing (Keith and Leeroy). Clearly Underworld's Karl Hyde must have been paying attention -- it was now possible for an electronic dance act to be exciting live, instead of just po-faced avant-garde. Music For A Jilted Generation (1995) was next -- a hard techno banger of an album that made no concessions to the loved-up house massive. However, it was the release of "Firestarter" from their third opus The Fat Of The Land (1997) that really put them on the mass media map. Fearful that the track and its provocative video were inciting arson, the inevitable tabloid frenzy ensured The Prodigy were a household name by the end of the year. "Breathe" (1995) was even bigger -- the beats so massive that it crossed genre boundaries to be popular with metal fans, rock heads and house fanatics across the country. The time was right to really push their luck, which they did with the release of "Smack My Bitch Up" (1997), a track almost specifically designed to simultaneously fill dance floors and appall the politically correct. It was a huge hit and they were at the top of their game. Time then for some time off, which ended up being seven years, before Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004) was released. This proved to be more of a solo effort from Liam. All three original members were back on board, though, for 2009's Invaders Must Die.
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