BACK ISSUE #409

Music: The Prodigy
Four years is the equivalent of four centuries in the world of pop music, so it will be interesting to see if UK electro shock rockers The Prodigy still sound edgy with the release of their first album since 1997's Fat Of The Land.

The band returns to Tokyo to present tracks from the forthcoming Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, for one night only at the spacious if inconvenient Tokyo Bay NK Hall.

For a band that, like The Prodigy, has built their reputation on pushing the envelope of good taste and morality, the challenge to follow up previous works is a tough one. The band runs the risk of either crossing the limits of acceptability and alienating listeners, or retreating into acceptability and becoming also-rans.

The Prodigy has shown in previous work that they know exactly how far to push, without going over the edge. The purportedly "pornographic" video for the song "Smack My Bitch Up" from Fat Of The Land, for example, was a brilliant subversion of stereotypes.

The video is depicted from the point of view of a seemingly male party animal bingeing on drugs and abusing strippers at a dance club. But at the end of the video, the invisible protagonist is revealed to be a woman, turning the tables on politically correct attitudes and delivering the message that not only men, but women too can be abusers.

It was for work such as this that The Prodigy won Best Dance Act at the 1998 BRIT Awards, but in fact they had been busy subverting the music world since the early '90s.

Formed by the irrepressible Keith Flintóa kind of Johnny Rotten of the dance worldówith Leeroy Thornhill, Liam Howlett and MC Maxim Reality, The Prodigy first signed to XL Records in 1990. Success on the underground scene with the EP What Evil Lurks led to the release of the single "Charly," which reached number 3 on the UK charts.

Their debut album The Prodigy Experience set the template for the group's frenetic fusion of punk aggression and sophisticated techno beats, and was resoundingly followed up with Music For The Jilted Generation, which in 1993 entered the UK album charts at number 1.

"Firestarter" from Fat Of The Land provided The Prodigy with their first number 1 single, and around this time the group began touring Japan to connect with their by now vast number of fans here.

In recent months, The Prodigy has been debuting tracks from the much delayed Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned at European music festivals.

The Prodigy play Tokyo Bay N.K. Hall on February 6. See listings for details.

Image: Creativeman