Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Prodigy is a British hard dance/rave act, consisting of Liam Howlett (Keyboards), Keith Flint (Dancer/Vocalist) and Maxim (Live MC). Leeroy Thornhill (Dancer) was also a member of the band from 1990 to 2000. A female dancer called Sharky was also briefly associated with the band during their brief unsigned period.
Formed in Essex, England, the Prodigy started life with an initial 10-track demo by Howlett, put together on a Roland W-30 sequencer keyboard. XL Recordings picked up the demo and an initial 12" pressing of What Evil Lurks was released in early 1991.
The band's first performance was at Four Aces in Hackney, London. Charly, released 6 months later, was a huge hit in the British rave scene of the time, catapulting the band into the wider public consciousness for the first time. Some critics were later to identify the release of Charly, with its memorable sample of a government television infomercial aimed at children, as the tune that instigated the ultimate destruction of the underground rave scene, opening the door to a flood of low quality cheesy rave tracks, most notoriously Urban Hype's ultra-saccharine Trip to Trumpton, and Smart E's Sesame's Treet, a reworking of the theme tune of the popular children's TV show Sesame Street. Charly was quickly followed by the band's first full length album, The Prodigy Experience, widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the rave/breakbeat genre ever recorded.
The Prodigy moved to distance themselves from the imploding rave scene with 1994's Music for the Jilted Generation. Nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, the album perfectly captured the widespread anger and embitterment among British rave-goers at the time, as the Criminal Justice and Public Order act of 1994 had effectively criminalised raves, rave culture, and by implication, rave music itself. Musically, the album was a call to arms for electronic breakbeat-based music, a tour-de-force of originality that provided a tantalising and impelling glimpse of what was still possible within the genre.
The international success of Music for the Jilted Generation meant that touring beyond the United Kingdom was now a viable prospect. The band augmented their live line-up with guitarist Jim Davies in 1995 for tracks such as Their Law, Break And Enter 95, and various live-only interludes and versions. The 1996 release of Firestarter, featuring vocals for the first time courtesy of a new-look Keith Flint, helped the band break into the US and other overseas markets, and reached number one in the UK. In this year the Prodigy also headlined the prestigious Lollapalooza festival. The Prodigy have toured all over the world, including Beirut and Moscow's Red Square.
The third Prodigy album, The Fat of the Land, was released in 1997. Like its predecessors, the album represented a new milestone in the evolution of both the band and the wider mainstream dance scene. Featuring simplified melodies, sparser sampling, and more sneering, punk-like vocals, the album nevertheless retained the bone-jarring breaks and buzzsaw synth so idiomatic of the band. Perfectly poised between underground acceptability and mainstream acceptance, the album cemented the band's position as one of the most internationally successful and famous acts in the hard dance genre, entering the British and American charts at number one. The best selling single Breathe, also released in 1997, was taken from this album.
1999 saw the release of Dirtchamber Sessions Volume 1. This album was not strictly speaking a Prodigy album, being a DJ mix album by Howlett, produced as an official record of a successful guest appearance on the British Radio 1.
In 2002, after a break from touring and recording, the single Baby's Got a Temper was released to critical disappointment. The song was written by Keith Flint's sideband, Flint, and also featured Jim Davies. The single was produced by Liam Howlett. In the same year, however, Q magazine named The Prodigy as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die".
The Prodigy's latest album, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned was released on 23 August 2004 (14 September 2004 in the USA). A precursory and experimental single Memphis Bells was released in very limited numbers, followed by the traditional release of the single Girls.
5,000 digital copies of Memphis Bells were sold over the internet. Each copy was a combination of customer-chosen instrumental, rhythmic, and melodic options, of which 39,600 (of 660,000 total) choices were available. Five mixes were sold in three file formats, WAV, two audio mixes in MP3, and a 5.1 DTS Multichannel audio mix and all were free of Digital rights management. The experiment was a success, with the 5,000 copies being sold in just over 36 hours in spite of server problems from the demand.
The Prodigy are a difficult band to classify, because they have evolved significantly with time. Each of their albums represents a distinct stage in the band's musical evolution. From their initial inception as a tripped out hardcore rave band with scene classics such as Your Love and Out of Space, to the much more mainstream dance of No Good, to the rockish Their Law to punk-like tracks such as Fuel my Fire in more recent years, the Prodigy continue to innovate and surprise.
- Kieron Pepper (Drummer)
- Jim Davies (Guitarist)
- Gizz Butt (Guitarist)
- 1992 Experience #12 UK
- 1995 Music for the Jilted Generation #1 UK, #198 US
- 1997 The Fat of the Land #1 UK, #1 US
- 2004 Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned #1 UK, #62 US
- 1991 "Charly" #3 UK (#73 Re-release in 2004 along with Pandemonium / Your Love)
- 1992 "Everybody in the Place" #2 UK
- 1992 "Fire/Jericho" #11 UK
- 1992 "Out of Space/Ruff in the Jungle Bizness" #5 UK
- 1993 "Wind It Up (Rewound)" #11 UK
from Music for the Jilted Generation
- 1993 "One Love" #8 UK
- 1994 "No Good (Start the Dance)" #4 UK
- 1994 "Voodoo People" #13 UK
- 1995 "Poison" #15 UK
from The Fat of the Land
- 1996 "Firestarter" #1 UK, #30 US
- 1996 "Breathe" #1 UK
- 1997 "Smack My Bitch Up" #8 UK
- 2002 "Baby Got a Temper" #5 UK
from Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned
- 2004 "Girls" / "Memphis Bells"
- 2004 "Girls" #19 UK
- 2004 "Hotride" #60 UK (Non-chart qualifying)
- The Prodigy - Official website.
- The-Prodigy.nl - Much Updated fansite.
- The Prodigy Experience - UK Fan site with complete discography and message board.
- Nekozine - Excellent fan site with many exclusives.
- Kotta's Prodigy Site Excellent site with a very complete discography.
- Online Prodigy Center (currently down) - a Prodigy website describing itself as "the Number One information archive of the Web dedicated to the band Prodigy"
- DMoz.org category: 'The Prodigy'
- Juge's Prodigy Site - Another excellent fan site.
- Brainkiller - Yet another excellent fan site.
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