rodigy was founded in the early 1990s by Liam Howlett (keyboards) along with MC Maxim Reality (Real Name: Keith Palmer; rap vocals), Leeroy Thornhill (vocals) and Keith Flint (vocals) to bestow upon the Earth a kind of punk rock fusion with hip hop and techno terrorism at a time when the rave phenomenon was on the rise. Their debut EP was 1991's What Evil Lurks on the then fledgling 'XL' label. The following Christmas the rave anthem >Everybody In The Place rocketed to number 2 with their Charly single making 3. Proving that the Ravers had a sense of humor they would sample everything from Sesame Street a nd government TV ads warning children against playing with fire to a back beat of heavy dance and bass rhythms; the TV ad first appearing in a knock off of Arthur Brown's old classic Fire and made 11 in the UK.
With The Prodigy Experience in 1992, Prodigy managed to lift themselves above the multitude of pretenders of the time with the remixing of classic hits and several of their own like Out Of Space. Advancing beyond the basic rave set, their live shows had increasingly become somewhat more advanced if not yet mainstream. Howlett's remixing skills were becoming in demand and, along with his work with Prodigy, he helped Dream Fr equency and Front 242.
Their next release One Love (1993) made 8 on the UK charts and was originally released in a plain white sleeve in an effort to keep with their now slowly fading roots. But the follow-up 12" single No Good Start The Dance saw the band in transition with a thundering techno backdrop to a female vocal track and it made 4 UK in the spring of 1994. But later that same year their Music For The Jilted Generation album showed Howlett becoming a little more angry; the into summing it all up featuring a tapping typewriter followed by a spoken word then the slamming of techno music. It was clear the act's artisticendeavors were moving beyond mere gyrations on a dance floor. The artistic creativity paid off for they received a solid 1 UK for their effort. The album was extremely wide in its scope and effectively mapped out the future of the techno movement within its varied tracks, Voodoo People proving to be one of the most compelling with its flute and heavy riffing, not to mention the punk rock video for Poison.
The band's over-all impressions that would make Iggy Pop look like an amateur started when Flint's long locks were reduced to a bright green Mohawk, add to that the recent video of their new live innovation: Keith's own Firestarter, filmed in the L ondon Underground and seen on Top Of The Pops creating a flood of complaint letters; the single for which went to number 1. With all this hype surrounding the act it was almost a foregone conclusion that The Fat Of The Land (1997) follow-up would be something of a letdown. While the album featured such high-octane tracks as Firestarter, Breathe and forays into rap with a remake of Beastie Boys' Funky Shit, it also boasted less exciting collaborations with Crispian Mills (Kula Shaker), 'Narayan', or the pointless cover attempt of L7's Fuel My Fire. As uninspiring as at least half of the album was, it managed to makea 1 in both the US and UK most likely because of the controversy it created over the Smack My Bitch Up track rising the ire of certain government and pro-women interest groups The act remained as unapologetic as ever and although the album may have missed many expectations, it will still far better than what the competition was offering. As incredible as the Prodigy had become as an electric light show and an unmatched audio experience, they would always tow a tight line between success and becoming a caricature of themselves.
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