There is no way for you not to know who Prodigy is. British techno band revolutionized genre and always balanced between mainstream and underground. Let’s see who the story started.
His majesty, sir Liam
Talking about The Prodigy, most of the fans will remind prominent person of Keith Flint – stage performer, dancer, vocalist and madman. But key music person in the depth of the stage was Liam Howlett: producer and musician from Braintree, Essex.
He was born in 1971, played piano in early ages and got music education. In the middle of 80’s he started listening hip-hop and begin his DJ career. He also used to perform with British rapper Cut to Kill, but soon switched to house music.
Rap heritage, love to upbeat techno and breakbit combined inside Howlett’s mind and he began to produce his own techno music in 1988. Forming and fledging British techno rave scene warmly welcomed Howlett’s first EP “What Evil Lurks” and he became important part of the industry.
At the local party Howlett met Keith Flint and Leeroy Tornhill, London locals, and trio formed The Prodigy. band was named after a synthesizer.
In the August of 1991 Howlett released single named “Charly” which was made out of samples from children’s public service announcement. “Charly” quickly gain popularity in Britain and The Prodigy begun their race to the top. Single was followed by to classic Prodigy hits “Everybody is in the place” with music video, featuring young band members travelling to NY and “Fire”.
The Prodigy needed huge release to proove their claims on the British rae crown. That claim names “The Prodigy Experience”, first band’s LP. It was made with uptempo breakbeats, vocals from Lee “Scratch” Perry and up to date techno. Soon it went to the top of the British charts and gained gold status.
In the late 1993 and early 1994 Howlett worked on the new tracks, featured in the next Prodigy album “Music For Jilted Generation”. Group was evolving, moving from breakbeat with piano samples to the more complex sampling. For example, “Voodoo People” has guitar parts inspired by Nirvana’s “Very Ape” mixed with Johny Pate, american poet Gylan Kain and Led Zeppelin. And it is still a very unique and Prodigistic. Guess what: it became gold in the first week after release (4th of July, 1994).
Most of 1994 and 1995 The Prodigy spent in tours around the world, including performance at 95’ Glastonburry. Rave and techno slowly became mainstream music, which can be played for the huge audience and open airs, and part of that success tied to the Prodigy.
In that days The Prodigy changed they visuals. If you compare two bands: from “Everybody is in the place” and “Firestarter” you will see to completely different groups. Mid-90’s Prodigy become more aggressive, pushing, provocative.
Single release “Firestarter” with crazy Keith Flint in the banned music video followed this glory and view by some critics and fans as turning point. Right before the new millenium The Prodigy dropped absolute hit album “Fat of The Land” with iconic crab on the album. Just look at this names: “Firestarter”, “Narayan”, “Breath”, “Diesel Power” and atomic bomb named “Smack My Bitch Up”.
Story goes on
The Prodigy showed the world that rave and techno music is not about dancing in the dark basement high on drugs. It is energetic full of will to live. Liam Howlett’s approach to making music is also unique. He is like and alchemist, who combines small parts of samples, using philosopher stone of his own genius to create something completely new.
Art of sampling was never so complicated and bewitching before. The Prodigy once again broke walls between genres, using hip-hop, breakbeat, techno, rave, grunge, metal and classic rock in their tracks. Stage performance was also a miracle. You have to be there, to feel The Prodigy power.
Of course, after a huge start The Prodigy gained cult following and soon became icons of techno music worldwide. New millennium brought us hit albums like “Invaders Must Die” and “Day Is My Enemy”, dozen of singles and EPs, huge collaborations and mixes, as well as tragic death of Keith Flint in 2019. But it is completely different story.