The Prodigy are a strange beast. For the majority of their catalogue the music is just the work of Liam Howlett and yet the supporting cast that orbit his talent are important to The Prodigy in a way that doesn’t really have a comparison elsewhere. On Monday we learned we’d lost Keith Flint - an essential part of that essential band.
Keith embodied the spirit and attitude of the Prodigy, and the Prodigy embodied the spirit, and attitude of a generation. Due to the Prodigy’s celebrated crossover appeal, a significant number of that generation are feeling the loss of a man who started out, with Leeroy, as the band’s dancer. Even for those two albums where he makes precisely zero musical appearances, he was an important element.
From the start The Prodigy were an act - how they looked in their videos and on stage was part of who they were and to understand why The Prodigy transcended their genre and Keith transcended his role, the visual history is where we’ll go as we chart the early evolution of his role from dancer to frontman. We’re not qualified to speak of the man’s character, although that so many are doing so with fondness isn’t surprising, but we remember his transformation into an icon and we’d like to share that instead.
Let’s start with Everybody in the Place - a total joy of a thing.
7 seconds in with a gurn and we’re there. Dancing with stupid hat, mouth agape. This Keith is such an archetype. There were loads of Keiths in 1991. Always up and always up for it. People who got the party started. Even then he managed to embody the band.
On Music for the Jilted Generation, the party went dark. They were still about the good times but they were now in the basement rather than the warehouse and even more than last time, they’re a gang. Inspecting the premises, approving the vibe. Chairmen of the dance.
Jump to 2 mins 20 secs, Keith is dancing like a man whose feet are struggling to keep up with his drugs and the creeping new sense of menace in the band’s sound is writ large in his eyes, their rabid energy apparent in his later strait jacketed appearance.
By the time they’ve released the final single from Jilted, they’ve embraced the aesthetics of a rock band, and a still wild-eyed Keith is moshing.
Which of course brings us to Firestarter….
There’s a reason little children sat entranced by the scary man in 1996, you can’t keep your eyes off him. The song barely exists without the video. With hindsight it’s easy to see why Firestarter had the effect it did. It’s an escalation of what went before, something unique and needed, but it was a really bizarre move. This was something dance acts just didn’t do - vocalists provided sweet melodies, not menacing threats in a punk style. He took them from an electronic band with crossover appeal to create a sound that was harder and edgier than their guitar wielding contemporaries. This wasn’t just a bunch of ravers living out stale rockstar fantasies, or hiring a guest singer for some commercial symbiosis like Leftfield had done with John Lydon. This was a genre of one being created and once again, our hero lived and breathed it.
From here of course they stuck to their niche and became a stadium act equally at home in a field or with condensation dripping from the walls. They remained a rite of passage live experience for subsequent generations; Keith centre stage controlling the crowd.
Has your life become a gauzy tumble, all joyless forward motion without meaningful progress or defined destination?
Do you watch in mute horror as the social media posts of friends increasingly resemble their very own poorly directed film, so woefully cast and pressed flat under unfriendly filters that you barely recognise them?
Have your parents become racists that you can’t stop being in love with. The kind that jump out of their skins when the newspaper hits the doormat, and again when the front page tells them that immigrants are living in their central heating and eating all their British cheese?
Does it feel like you’re slumped at the top of an angrily burning pyre, constructed solely of every beautiful fucking thing humanity has ever created?
Don’t worry………we’ve made you a party, it’s filled with musicians who feel exactly the same as you. Some furious, some serious………miserable, hopeful, lonely, joyful, desperate and some that are just super high on powerful, powerful drugs!!
Wedge a chair against your door and click on the link, stay as long as you need to.
Every two weeks we release a playlist from a guest curator. The rules are that is must be designed to listen to in order and for the listener to use Spotify’s primitive crossfader.
Liam is an intensely entertaining fellow. Documentary maker, barbed podcast bitch, academic, musician, remixer and DJ. I asked him for some phrases to go with this mix but frankly it’s very very difficult to use “nazi gold”, “new jack swing one hit wonder” and “Madchester royalty” to describe this wonderful set. What we actually have is something between a dancefloor of exquisitely dressed arseholes and lying on a sun lounger at dusk while contemplating a life well lived but tinged with regret. Regret that may involve nazi gold.
Anyway, to hell with this over indulgent article, enjoy this wonderful mix and check out the truly brilliant Dancing about Architecture podcast at http://www.daacast.com.
Curator: liam thomas maloney Crossfade setting: 8 seconds Sounds: Nu-disco, post disco, disco disco
Are you a young person struggling with purpose and direction? Does the life that the popular media outlets project onto your lily-white consciousness repulse and confuse you? If so….. FIRE UP YOUR LOSSLESS FLAC PLAYER, LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST AND RIOT!!!
Are you a middle-aged person? Have you scored a succession of soul cracking middle-management jobs before settling in a beige village in a good school catchment area? Have the final vestiges of your personality been eclipsed by children or shaved off by uncomfortable social engagements with friends you no longer recognise? If so…. FIRE UP THE BLUE TOOTH CONNECTION IN YOUR FORD C-MAX, LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST AND RIOT!!!
Are you an old person that does loud farts on buses and can’t work the fucking internet at all? If so……probably not for you to be honest.Tell you what - get the aforementioned young person to start the playlist on their phone and post it through your creaky letterbox…….. AND RIOT!!
We’ve done a February playlist. It’s a golden refuge filled with notes, beeps and strummy bits that will rejuvenate your flesh and leave you looking like you did before life sank its yellow tusks in and sucked out all your beautiful juice.
Every month we’ll be filling Spotify with brand new songs from all genres for your listening delight. They will be updated as the month progresses so be sure to check back regularly but on the last day of the month the shutters will come down and we will NEVER talk of these songs again. Our eyes are on the horizon, sisters and brothers.
Music was an exciting place in 2018 principally because, for better and worse, 2018 was an exciting place. That artists draw upon the world around them for inspiration is no great insight, but if the destination of the world’s current changes is furiously debated, music’s lurch forward was unmistakable and overdue.
We would love to chat about the new female lyrical perspectives, the acceptance of transgender artists, album lengths finally reacting to modern listening habits and getting shorter, the rise of women in techno, the increase in collaborations between artists, and the differing reactions to the rise of right wing emotional politics but it’s far easier for us to just say “listen to this stuff - it’s brilliant”.
If you can’t be bothered to browse, you could just listen to our mix of the year’s best songs (minus the one on soundcloud). For best results, set your spotify crossfade to 5 seconds for a continuous if schizophrenic experience.
Every year we compile a list of our favourite albums, but as much as we still obsess about new music, we perhaps retain the most passion for the stuff from our formative years. Different periods resonate for different reasons. Some mean a lot because of the discovery a new genre or moving to a new place. In 1989 we were 14 and were introduced to so much weird and wonderful noise. The best thing was that there seemed to be little in common in terms of sound between most of these bands. In Seattle, the first full length albums were being released on Sub Pop by bands looking back to punk, garage and hard rock. Hip-hop in the US was a year into its ‘golden age’ and one of the things that spurred those artists on creatively, the new availability of digital samplers, was also responsible not only for the explosion of dance music in the UK.
The use of sampled drum loops wasn’t restricted to the house and hip hop scenes. Rock musicians were also embracing them. In the US, industrial rock was entering its own golden age and in the UK, indie rock bands obsessed with modern sounds and culture were furiously looping Public Enemy sirens, funky drummer beats and sci-fi dialogue. Like all periods of change in music, it was exciting and spoke of a very specific time. And it set us at Beat Rehab on a path of being looking everywhere for weird sounds and fringe artists.
I don’t usually write about people that I don’t know when they die. I’m not generally affected by their passing or if I am, it’s usually just the cultural impact of a big news story, or I’m impressed by the words and experiences of others - I wasn’t a big Bowie fan but it was impossible not to be moved by everyone’s intensely personal stories about how he made a difference to their lives and outlooks.
Rostam Batmanglij (no relation) has been tinkering in the studio for years. Firstly with Vampire Weekend which he left two years ago, then with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles and more recently he’s been writing for pop acts like Carly Rae Jepson. But he’s hit a new peak with his debut album Half-Light.
The rise continues for Killer Mike and El P’s musical bromantic venture. RTJ3 might not be quite as urgent as its predecessor but it’s evidence that their formula still works. Mike’s flow is still one of the best in the game and El P’s production is getting busier and more reminiscent of his solo work and less like the (relatively) minimalist approach he took to R.A.P Music and RTJ1.