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PRODIGY - Their Law (Singles 1990-2005)   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Friday, 07 October 2005

A wonderful history lesson in both how good they were, and how awful they now are.

 

The Greatest Hits album always has the ring of a career-closing admission. We’ll Never Be As Good As This Again, it says between the lines. Like Fonzy Jumping The Shark, it’s all downhill from here. Though, to be frank, the Prodge have been on the slide for the better part of a decade already.

When Album Number Four takes longer than the rest of your career, you really need to ponder what the point is anymore. Disappointing sales, and a deserved critical mauling of the risible “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned” have resulted in what is, to be frank, a blatant and obvious ploy in consolidation and facesaving. Think not of the future, or where The Liam Howlett Showband are going, but remember the glorious promise they held.

 

And then, after 1996-7’s suckerpunch trilogy of “Firestarter”, “Breathe” and “Smack My Bitch Up”, nothing. Five years of sporadic festival shows and vinyl silence gave us “Baby’s Got A Temper”, which is curiously absent. Written out of history, as it was a fall of gargantuan proportions. The harder they come, the harder they fall, after all. After the disastrous reception it received, Liam apparently scrapped a whole albums worth of material and instead deigned upon us the underwhelming “Always Outnumbered”… which sounded, at best, like the work of one of their many imitators, and at worst, suffered from the artistic constipation of the the uninspired. It would have deservedly sunk into obscurity were it not for the brand loyalty of the Ex-Ravers. In contrast to the overthought, underwritten album of last year, “Their Law” is underthought, overwritten, and an obvious attempt to win back the taste of the public.  

 

Everything about the politics behind this release stinks : the timing, the huge drop in quality between the newer stuff and the old, and the grudging admission that the Prodigy have to work for their status after years of being handed it to them on a plate. Taken purely on the quality of the grooves coming out, there isn’t much to dispute. The Prodigy have shifted drastically with each new release, from rave cartoons, to dirty techno epics, to a semi-industrial pop machine, and finally to their current incarnation, built on celebrity cameo’s and dated, off-the-shelf sounds, but somewhere in the middle of that, the muse abandoned Liam Howlett and co.

 

Their Law” is a wonderful history lesson in both how good they were, and how awful they now are. Remember them fondly, and curse the fact that they didn’t split eight years ago and do us all a favour of avoiding this embarassing attempt to cash in their chips on ancient glories.

 

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