Bad ideas happen a lot in music. I mean A LOT of bad ideas. Sometimes it’s a business decision, a song arrangement, or even a member change/addition. One of the biggest of the bad ideas are cover songs. Sure if you are in your rehearsal studio and you’re messing around it’s fun and silly but, when you actually dare to put it out for the public to hear, that’s a whole other story. I’d like to bring your attention to a cover song that was released in 2004. Gene Simmons, yes THAT Gene Simmons, released a “solo” album in 2004 entitled Asshole. When the album was released the first single from it was a cover of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter.” It’s worth noting too that Dave Navarro lent his guitar playing to this cover. Well, not only did the album flop but, this cover is probably one of the worst covers you’ll ever hear, plus, what Gene looks like and does in the video makes it even worse. Gene Simmons has never been shy about his goal of making money. Just look at all the KISS merchandise there is along with all the other schlock he peddles. This was one of those really bad ideas that will live on in infamy and should you need a laugh, it’s perfect for that.
The year is 1997 and the landscape of music is moving in a strange direction. Anytime there is a cosmic change in music there are a handful of albums that come out that really point the direction of things to come. One of those albums in particular is the absolute great album The Fat Of The Land by Prodigy. When it was released it debuted at number one in the US on the billboard charts on the heels of breakout singles like “Firestarter,” “Breathe,” and the controversial “Smack My Bitch Up,” which to this day still has one of the coolest music videos ever. This album did a lot for music at the time. The Fat Of The Land has a more rock oriented sound, thus bringing the electronic and rock worlds together. Prodigy’s producer and main songwriter Liam Howlett was all about the group evolving their sound and creating something substantial. Here’s a fun fact Liam Howlett was only 24 years old when he made The Fat Of The Land.
The album contains 10 of the most fiery “dance” tracks ever, as each track has a real purpose and identity on the album. From the more rock tinged songs, to hip hop, and straight up electronic songs, it all works and flows perfectly. Besides the three main singles that everyone knows, other tracks on the record really stand out. The Beastie Boys sampled “Funky Shit” is one of the most danceable tracks on the record, providing the classic sound that The Prodigy is known for. “Serial Thrilla,” is still one of my favorite cuts off the album. It’s super heavy with a great riff to drive the beat. “Mindfields” is another that has some really intriguing electronics. There are a few trip hop moments in the song adding some psychedelia, which can also be heard in the epic “Climbatize.”
I remember hearing this album for the first time, and I was blown away by it. This album really mixes the “rock flair” with electronica so well. It’s often been copied and duplicated but it will never be matched. With a band like The Prodigy, once you release a game changing album like The Fat Of The Land, where do you go from there? After the release and touring cycle, the band took a five year break and returned with new music that was quite underwhelming as well as their subsequent albums. Their last album 2015’s The Day Is My Enemy, had some tracks on it that has some of the same passion as The Fat Of The Land, hopefully fueling some inspiration for the group to return with some great new music.