Released 20 years ago this summer, The Prodigy’s third studio album ‘The Fat Of The Land’ roared into the Guinness Book Of Records as the UK’s fastest-selling album at the time. It spent six weeks at UK Number 1, birthed two Number 1 singles, and reached the top spot in another 21 countries. It’s sold well over 10 million copies to date. The stats speak for themselves but, along with so many Prodigy fans, this album is a highly personal one. It’s what got me into dance music. And it’s kept me there ever since.
Released on XL on June 30 1997, ‘The Fat Of The Land’ hit the UK mainstream like an asteroid – with the bass to match. Just a year before, Britpop was still swilling in the aftermath of ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’, the England team were not quite winning Euro 96 and the Spice Girls were the sound of the summer. And me? I was 15, rocking my rucksack diagonally across my chest, a school tie so short I had to stuff the long hidden bit down my trousers. Musically I was somewhere between the exciting new world of The Fugees and the catchy fast bit of Babylon Zoo’s ‘Spaceman’. Yep. I know.
But something was brewing. There was this fierce-looking bloke on the telly with crazy hair shouting “I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter”. Then a CD single with a fish on it landed on my school desk called ‘Breathe’. The Prodigy were getting louder. Getting everywhere.
The band – and they are a band – had formed back in 1990 and taken the rave scene by storm. I was too young for their debut album ‘Experience’, for the seminal 12” ‘Charly’ and also for sophomore LP ‘Music For A Jilted Generation’, not to mention the legal age required to actually enter a rave. But come 1997, the culture and the band’s puncturing of the mainstream meant that they finally reached my ears.