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Keith Flint: Pioneer Punk

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic loss of Keith Flint.

In an age where it seems musical heroes are taken from us all too regularly, this was a particularly tough one to take for this writer, as I’d not long seen The Prodigy perform on their ‘No Tourists’ tour, and had recently gotten more in touch with their music than ever before.

Keith Flint was a pioneer. Starting out his musical career as a backing dancer for the band, it was his feature as a vocalist on the tracks ‘Breathe’ and ‘Firestarter’ from the group’s third album The Fat Of The Land which catapulted Keith and The Prodigy to mainstream, crossover superstardom.

Despite his energetic on-stage presence and “terrifying”, punk-rock inspired appearance (as I’m sure most parents and younger viewers, including myself at the time, would probably agree), those who knew Keith have all said similar things about him – that he was a loveable, kind, funny, wonderful soul who loved life and lived it to the fullest.

In memory of Keith, we decided to put together a list of some of our all-time favourite Prodigy tracks!

Keith Flint: credit Paul Grace Event Photography

(image: Paul Grace Event Photography)


Firestarter

Everybody remembers where they were when they first saw this video! For me, it was sat at the breakfast table on a Saturday morning watching The Chart Show on TV. Shot in an abandoned London Underground tunnel at the disused Aldwych station, it features all members of the band, but it’s Keith who is front and centre. Writhing around, crazed and scratching manically at his double mohawk, frenzied and almost verging on insanity, it was this iconic performance which put the world on notice that a star had been born. And his name was Keith Flint!

Charly

Despite being (rightfully) credited as one of the pioneers of the big beat musical style that was prevalent in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was The Prodigy’s roots in the UK rave scene which first brought them to the attention of the masses. This breakout track, which was eventually reworked and included on their first album Experience, samples a 1970s BBC Public Information Film called ‘Charley Says’ (from “Double Deckers” of ITVs “Say No To Strangers” campaign).

Out Of Space

One of those all time classic rave anthems that works on the dance floor no matter in what setting you hear it! Released in 1992 and sampling Max Romeo’s legendary reggae track Chase The Devil from 1976, the video features the band raving in the countryside, with Keith dressed in white overalls, a face mask and fluorescent gloves, and sniffing Vicks VapoRub!

Omen

Despite their worldwide success, and although they scored number one albums in the UK with the release of Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned in 2004 and Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005, it’s fair to say that as the world opened its doors to a new millennium, The Prodigy’s popularity in the early-to-mid 2000s was starting to wane. 2008’s Invaders Must Die changed all that. The Prodigy were back with a bang! This was the second single to be released from the album and one of their highest charting singles since ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Breathe’ hit the top spot back in 1996.

Champions of London

2018 rolled around and out of nowhere, The Prodigy dropped a new album. No Tourists was their first new release in over three years and it is truly a masterpiece. Almost like a tribute to themselves, it’s an incredible selection of tracks showcasing just how far they’ve come in a career spanning nearly 30 years. There are nods all over the album to their ever-maturing sound – from their early rave roots all the way through their industrial sound of the mid-late 90s and the grittier, heavier, darker tone of their work in the 2000s. A personal favourite (and believe me, it’s a tough choice!) is ‘Champions of London’ – an all out, drum ‘n’ bass assault with Keith Flint snarling the lyrics “Civil unrest..... grab the bullet proof vest....” in the breakdown. TURN THIS ONE UP!

Special mention: Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix)

In 2005, Prodge released a compilation called Their Law: The Singles – a greatest hits of sorts – featuring some of their biggest tracks alongside a host of remixes and reworks. One of these standout remixes comes from none other than the mighty Pendulum, who themselves were experiencing a period of domination in the world of dance music, riding high on the success of the release of their debut album Hold Your Colour earlier that same year. It would be pretty hard to convince me that this isn’t, dare I say it...better than the original – The Prodigy even perform a mash up of their original with a live version of this remix during their sets!

So that’s it! Some of our favourite tracks from The Prodigy.

Before we go, we’d just like to say we really respect the work being done by Samaritans and CALM. If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, it never hurts to reach out and talk.

Samaritans: Dial 116 123 for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

CALM: Freephone 0800 58 58 58, or go online to chat at www.thecalmzone.net