he Prodigy was founded in 1990 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. Taken from the album the following Christmas, the rave anthems Everybody In The Place rocketed to number 2, with Charly making 3 on its own. Proving that these ravers had a sense of humor, they would sample everything from Sesame Street and 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 that 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 Frequency and Front 242.
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 artistic endeavors 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 Prodigy's third album The Fat of the Land was released in June 1997 and was a huge success. The album peaked at number one in multiple countries, including the UK and the US. 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 become a commercial success, 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 band's over-all stage appearance 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 video of their new live innovation: Keith's own Firestarter, filmed in the London Underground and seen on Top Of The Pops creating a flood of complaint letters; the single for which went to number 1. 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.
The group's style had changed from rave and breakbeat to more of an electronic rock style by the release of Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004). Nonetheless, the album also topped the charts in the UK.
The line-up remained stable, and although their chart rankings in the US slipped, Prodigy remained pounding out UK 1's through the releases of Invaders Must Die (2009), The Day Is My Enemy (2015) and No Tourists (2018).
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