18
Aug 07

Blog ’92: I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE

FT13 comments • 2,197 views

1. The Prodigy – Fire

The opening song of any compilation is vital to its success and coherence. It must draw in the casual listener that might not otherwise consider investing the mix (perhaps opting for one containing ‘Sesame’s Treet’ instead), but also give an honest representation of the rest of the tracks to avoid resentment (and the inevitable trip to Music & Video Exchange).

‘Fire’ is an excellent overture: nonsensical samples, euphoric hands-in-the-air breakdowns, infectious drum beats, a strong ragga influence and plenty of oblique drugs references. Count my boxes well and truly ticked! But it also outlines Rave ’92‘s intent to bridge across the gap between chart rave and the more obscure hardcore tracks. Despite obviously being written with some serious dancing in mind, ‘Fire’ crosses into pop territory thanks to the patchwork song structure and variety of vocal samples – which in turn are possibly a result of the relatively limited vocabulary of noises Liam Howlett could squeeze out of his Roland W-30.

The Prodigy’s early material is high-speed, high-pitched and recklessly playful compared to the darker, noisier distortion of …Jilted Generation and The Fat of The Land. By far the most successful act on Rave’92, their choice of samples are as good an indicator as any of the evolution of dance music over the last fifteen years. Starting with shameless playground nostalgia (‘Charly’), thence to brain-melting ragga (‘Out Of Space’), guitar-crossover (‘Their Law’ and ‘Firestarter’) and ending up at ubercoolische electro (‘Girls’). Somewhere along the line his sense of humour may have evaporated, but throughout his career Howlett has always managed to pick the finest ingredients for the stew (if overcooking them at times).

Now we return to eleven-year-old Kat. A few weeks after receiving the tape, I casually informed my parents that I was now the God of Hellfire, and that I was about to bring them some Fire. Amused rather than worried, Dad played me his dusty copy of the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown LP (also featuring the brilliantly-named track ‘Great Spontaneous Apple Creation’). The world of sampling finally made sense to me: “Dad, this version isn’t fast enough!”

Despite the inferior bpm, I was very impressed with Brown’s performance at Glastonbury over a decade later – one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard, emanating from an ancient bloke clearly a few flames short of a headdress. A fine choice of artist to cut and paste into full-on rave euphoria madness, and a fine flagship to start the compilation.

Watch the video to ‘Fire’ on YouTube

Comments

  1. 1
    katstevens on 18 Aug 2007 #

    The band thought the video was so bad they wouldn’t let anyone play it! I’m inclined to agree.

  2. 2
    Pete on 18 Aug 2007 #

    Triffic start BUT you have to remember that the early nineties was also a period of massive HOMAGE to our rockstar elders. Crazy Wurld were HERITAGE so whilst Teh Prodg were post Charly (sampladelic for teh youth) were hot have also always been aware of their pop heritage (AT THEIR BEST…)

  3. 3
    Matt DC on 20 Aug 2007 #

    I played this in the woods at Livestock with people throwing flour on the bonfire in the background. It went down very well indeed.

  4. 4
    Matt DC on 20 Aug 2007 #

    This is still my favourite Prodigy single btw, possibly because it was the first one I remember hearing as a 12-year old and I still retain that sense of giddy ‘WTF is this?’ excitement.

  5. 5
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Aug 2007 #

    Do you think this has lasted better than “Firestarter”?

    I was particularly fond of this one since it samples the crowd from Aswad’s Live And Direct and therefore I do appear on it, in a manner of speaking… ;-)

  6. 6
    katstevens on 20 Aug 2007 #

    I think so – ‘Firestarter’ is no less energetic but has a sneering superiority that now seems petulant rather than exciting/dangerous. The general feeling of (for the want of a better description) chipmunk joy in ‘Fire’ helps it retain its playfulness whilst still pissing off one’s parents.

  7. 7
    byebyepride on 20 Aug 2007 #

    I like the idea that just going crazy with delirious joy is always going to sound more threatening than something that’s supposed to sound dangerous. (I’ve always thought Firestarter was k-lame btw). Anyway good work kat on the first entry, looking forward very much to the rest — ha ha unless you seize up under the weight of colossal expectations!

  8. 8
    Steve on 20 Aug 2007 #

    The shonky video includes the group burning copies of Mixmag after the ‘infamous’ ‘did Prodigy kill rave?’ front cover.

    When I was a youth I did not used to burn cali weed in a rizla but I do remember where I was for every occasion I heard a Prodigy single for the first time. I didn’t actually hear this one until the Top 40 show it was first played on. I was a bit disappointed with the ‘Sunrise’ version of the track on the album at first as the single mix has more immediate impact. Howlett perhaps did compilations like this a favour by remixing his own tracks for the album. This paid off for him too when XL (inspired by Creation’s identical trick with the Oasis catalogue) re-issued their singles a few years later for the increased post-MFTJG fanbase – all of them subsequently re-entered the top 75.

    ‘Fire’ also opens Rave Generation volume 2.

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Aug 2007 #

    The expanded 2CD reissue of The Prodigy Experience which came out in 2001 – the original CD plus second CD of single mixes/odd B-sides etc. – is possibly the greatest thing ever (a certain veteran British light entertainer is in unlikely agreement with me over this).

  10. 10
    Billy Smart on 20 Aug 2007 #

    Brucie? Tarby? Cilla? Des? The mind teems with implausible candidates…

  11. 11
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Aug 2007 #

    It was the fellow responsible for this memorable chart topper (and he confirmed it on Jonathan Ross’ Radio 2 show a few years back; he plays it in his dressing room to warm up before going onstage).

  12. 12
    katstevens on 20 Aug 2007 #

    I really should have called this series I AM THE BLOG OF HELLFIRE. Missed opportunity there :(

  13. 13
    Idetrorce on 16 Dec 2007 #

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

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