MANNIK MONDAY: LET’S GO

Hello everyone, I’m DJ Mannik from Toronto and I write posts here now sometimes.

If you haven’t heard, last week mixmag declared The Prodigy to be the greatest dance act of all time.

This is a good thing for the following reasons:

1. It is the objective, scientifically correct answer.

2. It gives me an excuse to post about the prodigy for my first entry!

 

First, I suppose, a brief history of the group. They are, along with Slipmatt, Luna-C, The Suburban Bass Crew and many others, from Essex, the home of breakbeat hardcore. Liam Howlett had been a hip hop dj and producer in the late 80s when he discovered acid house raves at the Barn in Braintree, Essex. Soon, he started DJing and experimenting with his own rave music. He became friends with Keith Flint (the dual mohawk guy) who asked him for a mixtape. Side A of the tape was a DJ mix of some of his favourite tunes from the time and on side B he put some of his own music and scribbled “The Prodigy” on the label, naming himself after his first synth, the Moog Prodigy. Anyways, blah blah blah they hooked up with Maxim Reality, a ragga MC from Peterborough; Leeroy Thornhill, a dancer who left the band in 2000; and the 5th founding member, Sharkey (no, not that sharkey) the only female member of the group, also a dancer, who left when they signed with XL recordings. If you want a more detailed history of the group, go here.

Their first EP, What Evil Lurks, one of the first true hardcore records, came out early in 91.

 

I don’t want to make this entry a biography of the band because other people have already done it better than I ever could, but before I just start posting music I feel I should focus for a second on the infamous ’92 Mixmag cover story and how it applies to dance music today in 2012.

The Alley Cat mix of Charly was big, it was brilliant, it was different, and most important to what I’m getting at here, it was immensely popular outside of the underground rave scene. It hit number three on the UK charts. It spawned a lot of cheesy imitations and cheep knockoffs. A lot of the old guard felt it was a sell out. People either loved it, or absolutely hated it. It even had a big wobbly synth. Sound familiar?  It’s basically what’s going on with dubstep today. The analogy isn’t perfect, but whatever. I’m not saying all dubstep is amazing, and I’m certainly not saying Skrillex is the next Prodigy (good lord no), but let’s all take a step back and remember just because something is big and new and popular, doesn’t mean its all bad. Some of the same sorts of people who are dismissing dubstep now would have been dismissing hardcore back then, with the same bad arguments. Just a fad, too mainstream, blah blah blah. Charly and breakbeat hardcore went on to evolve into jungle, drum n bass, happy hardcore, garage, bassline and of course dubstep. Who knows where dubstep will take us over the next 20 years?! It’s already way more diverse than most give it credit for.

Now, dear reader, I am going to share with you some of my favourite Prodigy obscurities and anthems. The downloads are all old bootlegs so apology for the low file quality, I first got most of these in the early early first days of mp3s and dial-up.


Out of Space.

Oh my god. From the Experience Album, the single greatest piece of electronic music ever. I’ve heard it thousands of times and it never gets old. It is so overwhelmingly good that it can bring a tear to my eye. Drop it in a set and everyone sings along. Huge anthem. Huge huge huge.

 

Acid Break (Now Hear This)
now hear this sith reah won


DOWNLOAD: The Prodigy – Acid Break (Now Hear This)
(RIGHT CLICK > SAVE AS)

Some of the best Prodigy material has never been released.  This live tune from the post-Experience/pre-Jilted era is a great example. The arrangement is pretty simple compared to Liam’s studio releases, but it gets the job done. Raw as fuck breakbeat hardcore. As far as I know this track has no official title but it’s often referred to as “Now Hear This” or simply “Acid Break”, for obvious reasons. It eventually evolved and morphed into the dark and atmospheric “The Claustrophobic Sting” on Jilted, but this original raw version will always hold a special place in my heart. Nasty!

 

Gabba (live in sweeden ’94)


DOWNLOAD: The Prodigy – Gabba (live)
(RIGHT CLICK > SAVE AS)

Yes. Gabba. In the early 90s when playing in continental Europe where UK breakbeat sounds were not as popular, Liam would often play kickdrum-heavy remixes of his tunes. He would also play this a lot, often as a lead into or out of No Good, Start the Dance. And check out that big vowel bass! Filthy as any dubstep today.

 

Time To Get Funky & Raw


DOWNLOAD: The Prodigy – Time To Get Funky and Raw
(RIGHT CLICK > SAVE AS)

Here’s one I had never heard until quite recently, possibly because I saw the title and assumed it was the live lead-up to Funky Shit.  Not much to say about it, just some proper 92/93 breakbeat hardcore bidness.

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll

and a different version from another concert


DOWNLOAD: The Prodigy – Rock n Roll (live)
(RIGHT CLICK > SAVE AS)

This one started popping up in shows during the mid 90s as the group began incorporating more punk rock sounds (durr guitars) into the music. Leeroy would sometimes take over the synths to free up Liam for some live drum work. A pivotal event in the evolution of their stage show and general sound. Sadly, this track didn’t make it onto the Fat of the Land, although a somewhat anemic version with a more grime-inspired beat did crop up years later under the name “You’ll be Under my Wheels” on the band’s 4th full album “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned”.

One last tune before I sign off!

Everybody in the Place 2011

From the World’s on Fire DVD, it’s a new arrangement of one of my old favourites, Everybody in the Place. For a few years there, Liam had been shunning his “cheesier” Experience era rave music. Luckily for all of us, he pulled his head out of his ass and embraced the oldskool sound for their most recent album, Invaders Must Die. Even more lucky, he’s been playing new arrangements of his classic tunes on tour. I highly recommend picking up the DVD.

That’s all for now, dead kids. Seeya in February!

wrong cable, dude

Copyright recordings, music and lyrics reproduced by kind permission
of Take Me To The Hospital / Cooking Vinyl – for original performances
by The Prodigy, check-out the official channel at
http://www.youtube.com/prodigychannel