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Before The Big Break

The Prodigy
Music For The Jilted Generation
(Mute/XL Recordings)

Before they had a big MTV video and a platinum album, and before Keith Flint had that crazy reverse mohawk haircut, The Prodigy released an album that smacked a lot of people upside the gob and tore the lid off. Not to say that Fat Of The Land didn't have some huge tracks, but this album is the one that still sort of defines the group for me. Before the posturing and even before the huge hype of "electronica" taking over the world, there was Music For The Jilted Generation.

Not only that, but this disc is an epic release. Clocking in at 13 tracks in about 78 minutes, it's a long, interesting ride. Things start off with an intro track of only about 30 seconds before the broken glass sample and weird breakbeat of "Break And Enter." The track does have some slightly cheesy screaming diva vocal samples, but it also moves along with a sly, grinding groove that leads off the album in fine form. Although it drags on a bit long, the group chunks out the guitars on the following song (on which they collaborated with Pop Will Eat Itself) "Their Law." Again, it goes a little long, but for those wanting riffage, it's good filler. If you were wondering when they would kick it, look no further than "Full Throttle." The track is literally an aural form of the title and with it's slammin' beat and funky sounds may cause you to get repeated speeding tickets if you listen to it while driving your car.

Just when you thought it was safe to take a break, the group slams right back into form with their big single from the album "Voodoo People." Combining the guitars of the third track and the fast beat of the fourth one, it's lethally catchy and another huge track. Even then, the racing references don't stop and they don't let off the accelerator at all with "Speedway (Theme From Fastlane)." Although it's a little slower-building, the track completely leaps out of the gates and tears around the track for nearly 8 minutes. After the pulsing beat of "The Heat (The Energy)" and the hip-hop infused "Poison," the group goes with two more mainstream-sounding (but still hugely catchy) tracks in the form of "No Good (Start The Dance)" and "One Love." Both of them feature big fat beats and tons of catchy samples placed at just the right time to make you groove your noodle.

The album closes out with the three-track "Narcotic Suite" and again Liam Howlett shows off his stuff with the awesome programming in the tracks. While "3 Kilos" moves along with sort of an old-school sounding sample and more of a hip-hop influenced sound, "Skylined" slides along with an electro-thud before the disc closes out with the 303 flavored acid sounds of "Claustrophobic Sting." Overally, it's a great disc by the group and although it sounds a little aged in places (some of the vocal samples, namely), it shows an even greater variety of sound than Fat Of The Land. If you're a fan of the group, it's a no-brainer.

Rating: 7.5