To say anticipation for this, the first Prodigy album for three years, has been tense is a bit like saying it gets a little damp under Russell Grant's arms. Record shops have been putting up notices saying, "No we don't have the Prodigy album yet, please buy something else instead". Pre-sales of the album are at the half-million mark. And to prime jounalists and record company people from around the world, XL flew 60 people by helicopter from central London to hear the album in a picturesque barn near Hitchen, where a sumptuous spread and a 40K rig helped their ears get used to it.
So what's it like? It's a screaming pile up of breaks and acid noise and hollered vocals and God knows what else and it's fab. It's the distilled and chaotic mess of everything mad that been happening to music in the last six years-rave and hardcore,hip hop, thrash-metal crammed into ten tracks. Mad, bad, and dangerously up for it, it's a hell of a ride. 'Firestarter' and 'Breathe' are here, of course, sounding as fresh and as frightening as ever. Opener 'Smack My Bitch Up' features a sample from the Ultramagnetic MCs and it is bound to cause a stir but who gives a fuck - because the breaks are raw and funky, the acid noises pure Detroit, the vibe sheer excitment. 'Diesel Power' rolls in funkier ways, with rapping from former Ultramagnetic MC Kool Keith - aka Dr Octagon - giving The Prodigy a whole new dimension. 'Funky Shit' has a wonderful disco lick and Keith Flint screaming the title, while 'Narayan' could make coffee tables with its Indian stylings and vocals from Kula Shaker's Crispin Mills. 'Fuel My Fire' is probably the noisiest, yet least effective number, a thrash metal rawk and roll version of a track by West Coast female thrasher L7, that is debatable, to say the least. Just how far towards LA the band intend to rock remains to be seen. And there you have it.
Ten tracks of funky noise from a bunch of Essex ravers now being described as one of the biggest bands on Earth, with all the thrills of 'Prodigy Experience'and the scary breaks of 'Music For The Jilted Generation'. Packed with more than enough power to ignite the passions of every raver, indie kid, rocker and big beatz merchant on earth. For those about to Prodge, we salute you!