2 August 2014

Prodigy - The Prodigy Experience

A few days ago, me and Marc about the Prodigy due to him listening to 'Fat Of The Land'. For both of us we can wax lyrical about that album for ages, but only one of us can review it. So in the interest of fairness I have selected to actually review their first record - Experience.  When this record was released on XL Records in 1992, it was a game changer to how rave and dance artists were viewed and how people who like other genres looked at this type of music and culture.  The metal scene has loved the Prodigy from the start and it was refreshing to see people embrace this band with such a passion.  Over the years they were from illegal raves and club to headlining arenas and festivals all over the world.  But what was their genesis record all about, what was their early sound and has it aged better than some of their peers at the time. This is a big and fair question as dance music can be incredible poor when revisited years later - Shades of Rhythm, I am looking at you.  So, what is the experience all about here?

This album starts with one of the Prodigy classic anthems - Jericho. This is one of the songs which were still being played by the band as late as 2009.  Starting with horns and a chant, the band are launched straight into a groove making wall of noise that would make even the most reluctant of the audience want to move to the hypnotic rhythm.  In fact I can testify after seeing them live that this song is one of the highlights of any set (shame it has not been played for a while). Age is incredibly kind to this song and it is still as fresh now as it was back in the day. Next is "Music Reach (1,2,3,4)" which has a similar sort of back beat to "Jericho", but the top noise is much more lighter.  I love that the band used something similar, with slight difference to the mighty "Jericho"; however time has not been as kind here.  It is still decent, but the energy does not reach the same levels. "Wind It Up" is another number which does not make the soul scream out in euphoria as much as it did back in the day.  It was the last of the five singles to be released from the album and also the last to be in the Rave style of music to be released by the band.  Liam Howlett (the main man behind the Prodigy stated that the band needed a new direction away from their origins.  I can honestly say that based on listening to the song in this day and age, I can agree that it was the best choice.  It is still a fun number, but if they had kept doing this sort of thing their career would have been over a long time ago. 

"Your Love (Remix)" is next and whilst it is a throwaway song is many ways, it does change the rhythm a bit from the bass heavy earlier tracks and this works to the advantage of the song.  There is something a little more depth in a way (which is really unusual to be honest).  Yes it is not as epic as other tracks on this album, yes it is as essential as owning a chocolate fire guard; but it is a lot of fun.  Next is "Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2)" is a track that has been played live by the band as recently as 2014 (it was on their set at the Sonisphere festival this year).  Why they picked this one instead of some of the other choices on the album is strange, but then again some of the other choices by this band have always been a little bit weird.  It is a decent number but it hardly makes the body want to move compared to the track that follows.  This track is "Charly (Trip Into Drum & Bass Version)".  This is the darker twin to the chart hit which was one of the tracks of 1992.  It uses a sample from a public safety video about not talking to strangers and it is still the best track of the album. This song is what got me interested in the Prodigy in the first place and the more bass mix here was always the preferred choice for me.  This is a classic dance track in every sense of the world.

Next is "Out of Space" which was another single to be released off this album.  It uses a sample of "Chase The Devil" by Max Romeo.  It is a strange mix of the rave and with a reggae feel in places (until the rave stomps all over it).  It is another amazing track which has aged incredible well and seems completely timeless.  This is followed by another song which was remixed and released as a single "Everybody In The Place (155 And Rising)".  The original version (similar to "Charly") is a little darker than its chart reaching twin.  This making the original a much more fresher number and keeps it relevant.  But some of the sequences are a little strange in places, but it is a great number none the less.  "Weather Experience" starts with a sample of the weather from an old BBC report, with an almost trance like introduction this song it feels at odds with most of the album; that is until the familiar drum beat kick in and even then it is something different.  It is one of the songs which should have been noted as a guide post to the future and it is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.

"Fire (Sunrise Version)" is the next song, it was originally released as a double a side with "Jericho" and features samples from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Daddy Freddy.  It is a brilliant track that is truly timeless in nature.  It was a dark horse at the time just like "Weather Experience" as it was different to what was going on with the rest of the album.  Again, the band was trying to escape what was going on around them and it shows that they were a different sort of beast.  "Ruff The Jungle Bizness" on the other hand is very much of its time and it is understandable as to why they included on the album, but it is a filler track and nothing more than that.  Ending the album is a live track called "Death To The Prodigy Dancers" which was popular as the dancers were 'killed' on stage to the song. As live songs go, it is a great version and it will have been brilliant to see this live with the MC and dancers in a battle.  It is also a fun ending to this record.

What you have on this album is a rough diamond, the band was showing signs that they were to be a force to be reckoned, but they still had a few pieces of their arsenal to get in order.  This album does have a whiff of filler in places and it also has a few tracks which use the same bass beat. But again it was their debut album and it did pave the way for two albums which are held as classics by many people.  As an introduction to what the band was about to begin with, it is a decent album and it has aged much, much better than most of the dance albums of the time.  But it is by no means a stand out classic; it is the beginning of what was to be a wild ride.

6 out of ten - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there

Top track - Jericho

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Prodigy website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for our Deezer users

Here is the video to the chart version of Charly 

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