The Fat Of The Land

Prodigy

Maverick Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Bill Ziemer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/10/1998

If I had to pick a band as being the most refreshing of 1997, this would be it. Forget all the controversy over the first song on the album, "Smack My Bitch Up," Prodigy's The Fat Of The Land is a refreshing departure from the flood of die-cast "modern rock" we've been forced to listen to lately. Let's face it, much of the "modern rock" released in the last year or so sounds very similar; there isn't too much that distinguishes one sound from the next. With rock music tied up in this rut, I couldn't wait for something interesting to hit the music scene. Enter Prodigy.

The interesting thing about Prodigy is that they're really not a rock band at all, but they received huge rock radio airplay. They're tough to categorize. If this were the '80s, I'd say they were pop, but the '90s seem to have blurred all those old distinctions, so I'm not sure that's the correct term. They're an interesting concoction that shows techno, rap, industrial and metal influence, what I'd call a "modern-fusion" band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Unlike a lot of bands that live or die by their vocalist, Prodigy concentrates on writing a catchy tune first, and accents the music with fairly sparse lyrics. Rather than have the lyrics be the focal point, Prodigy's vocals serve as a means of spurring the song along, not intending to convey an elaborate meaning. Nevertheless, the lyrics are catchy, but never fancy. "Serial Thrilla" jogs along with lines like,

"Damage Destructor...

Cry Disruptor...

You Corruptor..

Every time I..."[sic]

In other words, if you're looking for deep meaning in your music's lyrics, you won't find it here.

But what little this album offers lyrically, it makes up for musically. Quite simply, The Fat Of The Land has some of the most interesting arrangements of sounds I've ever heard. From the album's radio hit "Firestarter," to the album's most rap-influenced song "Diesel Power," you'll be treated to crushing bass mixed perfectly with piercing treble. The album's production is a real masterpiece.

There are so many different things happening tonally on this album, that it must have been agonizing to separate everything so it wouldn't become lost. The result is amazing clarity that will really surprise you, provided you aren't still using the same speakers that were underwater during the flood.

The Fat Of The Land is a studio creation. It's full of samples and synthesizers, and relatively few live guitars. If this is OK with you, I'd recommend this album. As with all techno-styled music, the album will begin to sound repetitive to those who don't care for this style. But the album has influences from many musical styles, so you're likely to find something here you'll like, as well as a cool disc to play at parties. Hit the lights!

Rating: B

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© 1998 Bill Ziemer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Maverick Records, and is used for informational purposes only.