Select Page

Keith Flint, the British frontman of the 90s band The Prodigy, was found dead last Monday, March 4 at the age of 49 from apparent suicide. He left so much love for music to this world. Flint met bandmate Liam Howlett in the late 1980s in a club in Braintree, a small town in Essex County, where he had moved after quitting his studies. A classically trained pianist, Flint was drawn to punk rock from the Sex Pistols and hip hop culture that eventually shaped The Prodigy’s music, thumping infectious rhythms of rave parties.

Even if their song Their Law had a true political dimension, (by referring to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, which criminalised the organisation of raves), their most popular anthems left little (to no) room for real singers, but plenty of space for monstrous beats and guitar-lead choruses.

They naturally became the most representative act of the rave ideology, over the three complex decades which led to the digital age. The band was supposed to play many festivals this summer, and the atrocious news was received as a terribly sad news by the music world.

Let’s explore Keith Flint’s works through The Prodigy’s songs and stepping stones as some humble attempt to encapsulate his brilliant career.

 

THE GENESIS — VOODOO PEOPLE [1994]

With its three-chord guitar riff, the early single Voodoo People reflected the spectacular fame of nu-metal in the 90s. Featuring jazz flute sampled from Johnny Pate’s You’re Starting Too Fast, the track became one of the anthems of the 90s rave scene. It embodied the beliefs, wills and needs of the thunderous movement, and was the quintessence of the (smartly entitled) 1994 album Music For a Jilted Generation. This album made the iconic 90s band the pioneer of the Big Beat.

Magic people, voodoo people”. The niche for the electronic blaze The Prodigy was instantly crafted, and ready to spread in a flowering musical landscape in the UK at that time.

Fun fact: the track was given a new life with a remix from Pendulum ten years later, which featured guitar from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.

 

THE REVOLUTION — FIRESTARTER // BREATHE [1996]

In March 1996, the single Firestarter and its provocative music video lit the match. On a fast-paced tempo and samples from Breeders, Ten City and Art of Noise, Flint officially revealed his unforgettable and disturbing punk arrogance to the world.

A few months later, Breathe put the final nail to it with some strong hammering, reaching international charts with an approach no one had ever witnessed before. An incandescent revolution made of propulsive bass and drums was on its way.

 

THE ANTHEM — SMACK MY BITCH UP [1997]

Published on XL Recordings in 1997, The Fat of the Land and its crabby artwork became an instant classic, and is still considered as one of the very best and inspiring albums of the entire scene. In the wake of the previous hits, the masterwork was also carried by the controversial track Smack My Bitch Up, and its music video directed by Jonas Akerlund (which got banned by MTV).

The song was a hit with 10 million copies sold, especially in the United States where it ranked number one. Their first world tour further enhanced their reputation as a stage phenomenon. Following this hell of a run, Leeroy Thornhill left The Prodigy in 2000 (so much energy and intensity turned out to be too exhausting). But the others founding members remained, and went on as the ultimate party band for years and years.

 

THE SWITCH — GIRLS [2004]

The Prodigy returned in 2004 with the disappointing Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. The album was crumbling under the amount of prestigious guests (Liam and Noel Gallagher, Juliette Lewis, Paul Jackson, …), without Flint ever taking the microphone.

Neglected by techno purists because it was “too rock”, the band still retained a wide audience. They kept defending their one-of-a-kind musical identity through its concerts, considered by many as one the best acts to have ever stepped stages such as Rock Am Ring (Germany), T in the Park (Scotland), Reading & Leeds (UK), or Future Music Festival (Singapore). The boys kept defying the principles of authority, censorship and order by creating liberating and stirring tunes for the masses.

 

THE (MANY) COMEBACKS — INVADERS MUST DIE [2009]

Through the years, the band remained an international reference for festivals and studio albums, as the commercial successes of their regular comebacks proved: Invaders Must Die (2009), The Day Is My Enemy (2015), No Tourists (2018), ranked first in Great Britain. Hopefully, Flint went back to singing on all these albums. He obviously remained the main attraction of the band as a member, giving their performances a unique feeling and staging.

 

Whether they were bouncing gloomy underground clubs in their early days or lighting up the main stages of the biggest festivals ever on tracks such as the epic and feverish Stand Up, Flint always made every show an interactive and immersive experience, even when he was standing behind the drums during his short solo project “Flint” in 2003.The mix of the sounds and souls of The Prodigy was a true gift to our ears, and shall remain in music lovers’ hearts for generations to come.

With his unstructured haircut and innumerable tattoos and piercings, Keith Flint cultivated an atypical style, as a part of his legend and now everlasting legacy. He will be remembered as someone who lightened up the stage in an unparalleled way, and gave so many crowds the time of their lives.

Please follow and like us:

Facebook Comments