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R.I.P. Keith Flint (The Prodigy)


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On 3/6/2019 at 2:10 PM, Ormion said:

Prodigy changed my life music-wise. Easily the greatest EDM group of all time.

I definitely agree about the life-changing part. I may write a separate post about my life in the arse end of the world, where electronic music was typically incredibly difficult to get in the pre-internet days. Nevertheless, Prodigy found its way there and was present in almost everything I was doing back then, be it music, computers or something completely different. It was also the great unifier. By MftJG, everyone with even the slightest exposure to electronic music knew them. By TFotL, everyone under 60 did - also there in the middle of nowhere. Barely any other EDM act could match that.

"The greatest" is not that easy a decision for me, but all things considered, it's definitely hard to name a better album than their 90s classics. They're just so goddamn solid musical adventures, whereas many other contenders have a whiff of recycling two or three ideas a few too many times. Many other albums from that era I listen mainly as a nostalgia trip but Prodigy because they're so enjoyable and awesome throughout. And they definitely managed to bring EDM on big stages, properly. Yes, music-wise (in the early days) it was just that one guy operating a sound system in a booth, but the show was nothing like a laptop-staring session. The rest of the guys really completed it. The name of their video collection "Electronic Punks" was spot on.

Which brings me to the main point of this post... Mind you, I absolutely don't want to belittle Keith. He was with the crew for almost 30 years, really going for it at 100% power and delivering unforgettable performances. Still, I find it a bit strange when some major news outlets write headlines like "Keith Flint, Prodigy frontman, dead at 49" (CNN). Others refer to him more modestly or accurately as "vocalist" or "singer". Meanwhile, there are some tones hinting that now the group is gone when their "frontman" died. Yes, that's how it went with Motörhead and Lemmy, but in this case it sounds odd to me.

After all, before TFotL, Keith was a dancer, strictly. That was his credit on Experience. I think that before Breathe and Firestarter, his vocal contribution comprised about four words spoken on "Fire". Maxim delivered the vocals on Poison (arguably their first track with their own, full vocals) and most of the hype on stage. By the time of TFotL, they had already released two massive albums, about 9 singles, 2 EPs and whatnot with barely any musical contribution from Keith. The rave scene found them "too mainstream/popular to be cool any more" already in 1992, when Keith was "just" a dancer. Even though all of them had their role, for me Liam was - and still is - the true brain and soul of Prodigy. It was his magic touch I heard on the albums. To be really honest, I was even quite disappointed when they picked up the new, vocals-heavy style. I wanted rave tracks, not songs. They, however, seemed to prefer stuff that was fun to scream on stage. In hindsight, it wasn't a bad move for their success nor even that unfitting (electronic punks and all that), yet I reserve the right to prefer their old output with instrumentals and occasional weird vocal samples.

Well, times have changed. And the band, and the show too. Maybe in this century Keith really counted as the frontman. But I still remember vaguely one quote from a book, maybe "Adventures with the Voodoo Crew" (1997). They talked about one of their earlier US tours, where slightly clueless reporters were asking "so you're a band - who's the bassist?" Back then there was no bassist nor a singer - or if there was, it was Maxim. Now I wonder if the reporters who have only seen the post-TFotL days really understand how the group worked in the past.

I don't know what happens next. Upcoming gigs have been cancelled so there's a bit of truth in the notion that the frontman is gone and the band cannot go on (at least for a while). Then again, that decision makes a lot of sense in a situation like this in any case. I'd say that without Liam there would be no Prodigy. Without Keith...I don't know. We'll see. Sharky left in 1990, Leeroy in 2000. Now there are zero dancers and no firestarter either.

Their early live track "Death of the Prodigy Dancers" has taken a really grim turn.

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Oh, I mean, I am fairly sure Liam was the only person actually signed as The Prodigy when they were signed to labels.

He's definitely "The Prodigy" and "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned" was strictly him.

That said, they had a bit of a rebirth after that album tanked. They did the greatest hits album and a tour after a long hiatus. That tour gave them new life and the remaining 03 albums were all very balanced with Maxim and Keith on vocals with Liam punching up a more fierce and punk sound. Invaders Must Die is just the fucking shit and I got see them the summer after that came out. Was one of the fiercest live shows I've seen. They really did form into a more solid band, especially on stage with the guitarist and drummer and Keith still dances around.

The Prodigy can indeed continue on, but that's a personal decision for Liam. Liam could even continue without Maxim and do another AONO, but he may just lay low for a while.

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Fat of the Land was played everywhere when it came out. It really helped bring rave cutlure to the mainstream.
I agree that "Invader must die" was a good album. They also came to Greece after that album. It was one of the most eventful concerts I've been to: I was on cruches after a meniscus surgery, so I waited to enter the arena as late as possible. Unfortunately that was also what all the free-loaders wanted to do. While I was entering the arena, a crowd of hundreds of people were storming trying to get in for free, they were throwing glass bottles on the arena's walls and  the glass was falling on our heads like rain.  My friends picked me up from the armpits and carried me inside the venue. The securtiy guards didn't stand a chance so they just let them in. Luckily, a barman saw me in cruches so he invited me inside the bar, so I had all the space in the world while everyone was crushed together (because of all the free loaders).
After the concert they also raided a shopping mall that was next to the arena.
Really nice night overall! Terrible sound but great energy!

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