This week marks the 18th anniversary of one of the most controversial yet famous electronic albums of all time: The Prodigy’s third album The Fat Of The Land. Some famous albums are forgotten about over time and only occasionally remembered on anniversaries and the like, but The Fat Of the Land’s reputation still precedes it so long after it was released. This might be because it was the first time people heard Keith Flint, its unique electronic-rock fusion style, or maybe because it hit the 10 million sales mark in 2012 (yes, it was still selling large enough amounts to pass that mark just three years ago). What everyone does know is that the album and its three mega-hit singles Firestarter, Breathe and Smack My Bitch Up are some of the most famous Big Beat, and even electronic music compositions ever made.
The latter of the three singles, Smack My Bitch Up, added to the album’s public recognition through the controversy that came with its name and music video – many people complained that it was misogynistic, whereas the band insisted that it meant doing anything intensely. The song has been acknowledged as one of the most controversial of all time, but also one of the best electronic songs of all time as well. And that’s just the first song off the album.
Breathe is up next, and this single was just as big as Smack My Bitch Up when it was first released, as well as the first time that the world heard Keith Flint. It hit the top 10 almost as soon as it was released in more countries than would be feasible to list (17 of them), and is still played around the world today (unlike Smack My Bitch Up).
Following Breathe is a few songs that are nowhere near as well known or remembered as the first two, but are still great to listen to and very much epitomise The Prodigy’s Big Beat style, with a more 90’s feel. Diesel Power, Funky Shit, Serial Thrilla and Mindfields aren’t as relentless as the singles, but are still all quality productions that are a pleasure to listen to again after a long time.
Narayan breaks the mould of the last few songs in that it’s a 9-minute epic with more conventional vocals from Crispian Mills, a very big beat and synths that are pure The Prodigy. The drum solo at the end is nothing short of epic as well.
Firestarter is up next, and as the lead single of the album shows just how good The Prodigy were at the time. The warped guitar sample automatically makes you think of The Prodigy, such is its familiarity. The vocals are known the whole world round, even though they also caused controversy due to their explicit content and the music video was only shown in the middle of the night due to its controversial nature too.
Climbatize is the last original song on the album, and is still relatively well known due to its extended atmospheric intro and catchy bassline. The lead synth later in the song is very recognisable – you’ll know it from RL Grime’s Core if you haven’t heard Climbatise before, but it originally came from The Horn Track by The Egyptian Empire.
Fuel My Fire closes the album and is a cover of the original song by L7, with gritty and warped vocals from Keith Flint and the song’s rock orientation confirming the band’s crossover style in a genre that they were, and still are, one of the best in.
The Fat Of The Land is one of those albums that you just have to listen to if you appreciate where EDM came from, and how the rave scene developed so much in the 1990’s. It’s a definitive album that threw The Prodigy into global stardom, and had an immense influence on many songs and artists across genres across the last 18 years. It’s got huge well-known tracks as well as less known gems, which ultimately makes it a must listen for any electronic (or even rock) music fan.