Roll back the clocks! And bring out the fire extinguishers!
Ten years ago, the singer in the biggest band in the world wasn’t a yoga-loving vegan who told you to make trade fair. He was a chubby, smiling, Essex wideboy who was pierced to within an inch of his life, had bright green horns for hair and told you to start fires and smack his bitches up.
It’s easy to see how The Prodigy’s Keith Flint was the tongue-in-cheek onstage extrovert to The Prodigy’s classically-trained, introverted brainchild, Liam Howlett, who preferred to sit behind his keyboard and barely say a word. The Prodge had found notable success with two non-Keith fronted albums, but thanks to ‘Firestarter’ they found their third album ‘The Fat Of The Land’ at Number One in 27 countries simultaneously and their lyrics chanted in playgrounds around the world.
Thanks to Keith’s image, complaints against the Prodge became as famous as the songs. One viewer wrote in to Top Of The Pops to complain that Keith looked like he was “in need of urgent attention”. This singles compilation will certainly ensure The Prodigy will be remembered for the controversy of ‘Firestarter’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and ‘Breathe’ and the pioneering big beat electro of ‘Voodoo People’, ‘Poison’ and ‘Everybody In the Place’ over their latter material. ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Hot Ride’ from last year’s forgettable ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’ still sound like a band desperately trying to find direction. 2002’s terrible ‘Baby’s Got Temper’ is notable by its absence (Liam Howlett himself confessed it is “crap”) and ‘Titan’ – the fantastic tune Howlett composed with 3D from Massive Attack for the porn film, The Uranus Experiment is only missing because apparently Liam “forgot”.
But with a new album out next year and the creative juices still flowing, unlike many ‘Best Of’’s, The Prodigy’s doesn’t signal the end of a career. Think of it more as an audio CV to remind us (for the most part) of all the great and (if you have it turned up loud enough) ear-bleeding things they’ve accomplished so far.