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The Prodigy - Biography
|last update : 26-09-2012 16:18|
|This Braintree, Essex, England-based outfit, originally formed by Liam Howlett (b. 21 August 1971, Braintree, Essex, England), Keith Flint (b. 27 March 1969, England), Leeroy Thornhill (b. 8 October 1968, Essex, England) and MC Maxim Reality (b.|
Keith Palmer, 21 March 1967, Cambridgeshire, England), shot to fame in the mid-90s as one of the first dance music acts to achieve the same level of success and media coverage as rock bands.
During the 80s Howlett was a breakdancer and DJ with the hip-hop crew Cut To Kill, but, inspired by the sounds of such artists as Meat Beat Manifesto and Joey Beltram, he began to write his own hard, edgy dance music. The Prodigy signed to XL Records in 1990 and, in February the following year, released their first EP, What Evil Lurks, which proved highly popular on the underground rave scene. Their next record, "Charly", which used samples of the famous public information road safety advertisement, was equally popular on the underground scene. On its commercial release, however, it climbed to number 3 on the UK charts, bringing the Prodigy to the attention of a wider audience. Its success spawned a number of similar "toytown" techno releases from other outfits, including tracks based on The Magic Roundabout and Sesame Street. The crew had already made a name for themselves performing at parties around the country, but differed from many anonymous dance acts by presenting a frenetic live show, with Flint and Thornhill dancing and Maxim on vocals. Their mainstream success continued with a series of Top 20 hits, including the Everybody In the Place EP, "Fire", "Out Of Space" and "Wind It Up", which were included on their debut album, released in 1992. The Prodigy Experience was a frantic blend of hard fidgeting breakbeats, rumbling basslines, rigid, angular melodic ideas and fragments of vocals, interspersed with the occasional breakdown. Howlett mostly employed harsh, metallic, edgy synth sounds, which were frequently offset by pianos and trivial sounds, serving to relieve the tense industrial feeling. Their next single, "One Love" (which had been released earlier that year as an anonymous white label entitled "Earthbound"), hinted at a change of direction in 1993, confirmed a year later by the Top 5 single "No Good (Start the Dance)" and the album Music For The Jilted Generation, which entered the UK album chart at number 1.
Two more singles, "Voodoo People" and "Poison", continued the Prodigy's commercial success. While they retained some elements of the hardcore sound (notably the breakbeats), musical mastermind Howlett had broadened their sound with "radio-friendly" vocals ("No Good (Start The Dance)"), heavy rock guitar ("Their Law" and "Voodoo People"), environmental sounds ("Break & Enter" and "Speedway"), flute ("Poison" and "3 Kilos"), and live drums. At the same time he dropped the angular, hardcore-style melodies and created an individual sound more influenced by techno-style repetition and abstraction, but still distinctively Prodigy.
The crew's reputation as a live act was further enhanced in the summer of 1995 by successful performances at Glastonbury and various other festivals, an area traditionally dominated by rock. Over the next 12 months the Prodigy continued to tour around Europe, Australia and America. In March 1996, they achieved their first UK number 1 single with "Firestarter". Combining clattering breakbeats, dirty sub-bass and whining guitar with Flint's punk-influenced vocals, the single appealed to a wide audience and brought the Prodigy to the attention of the rock press. In performances on that year's festival circuit, the line-up was augmented by guitarist Gizz Butt. Towards the end of the year, "Breathe" became their second UK number 1 single and confirmed their popularity with a mainstream audience both at home and abroad. In June 1997, Fat Of The Land entered the UK album chart at number 1. As with Music For The Jilted Generation, the album continued to explore new combinations of sound. By now they had completely abandoned the hardcore touches and, if anything, Fat Of The Land moved towards a punk and thrash-style, blending techno and breakbeat sounds with guitar, live drums and vocals to create a distinctive, futuristic hybrid of rock and dance.
The Prodigy invoked media outrage with the release of the controversial "Smack My Bitch Up" and its "pornographic" promotional video. This did not stop them winning Best Dance Act at the 1998 BRIT Awards. The following year Howlett released an acclaimed mix album under the Prodigy name. Thornill left the band while they were in the process of recording their fourth studio album, later releasing Beyond All Reasonable Doubt under the Flightcrank pseudonym. The Prodigy made their return to the UK charts in July 2002 with the provocative but inane single, "Baby's Got A Temper". Flint formed the offshoot band Flint in 2003.