Tuesday, June 28, 2016

93. The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land

Flickr Download DeviantArt

The crab is in the attack mode and the blurs suggest it is moving and ready to strike. We don't see animals, let alone crabs on album covers as often as we see people
or something else - and this makes this album cover art one of its kind. 

Having lived by the sea,  I've been familiar with crabs since I was a small boy and I know that even if its claws are raised,  which means that it is  being aggressive, it
does move backward as well as forward,  depending on the situation, or its perception of the predator or the prey.  Sand crabs are lightweight, light-coloured and can
run fast; mud crabs are heavier,  look more calculating and some have bright colours like the one on the album cover.  Looking aggressive may just be a bluff for crabs
can turn sheepish when cornered, but crabs are ambivalent all the time and their claws are always raised when they feel threatened.

Talking of colours,  crabs, like most, if not all crustaceans,  turn orange when heated or cooked.  Crabs that live in hot springs are orange-coloured even when they're
still alive. Talking of cooking,  crabs do remind us of tasty food, and it's the claws, the part that looks most menacing to us that is the fat of the land.  But most crabs
are omnivorous although some are scavengers.  It has been said that it's the  scavenger kind that cleans up the sea of dead matter.  

The album title comes from the old English phrase 'living off the fat of the land', which means living well or being wealthy. wikipedia

So,  who's  living  off the  fat of  the land?

Here's the original album cover art design.

No. 269, The Virgin all-Time Album Top 1000

Art direction, design and photography by Alex Jenkins. Album produced by Liam Howlett. XL, Maverick 1997. 

It’s a particularly well done piece of graphic design done by Alex Jenkins, the man who worked with Prodigy
founder Liam Howlett to design the cover.  With some Photoshop voodoo and a little work on the perspective
of the photo, Jenkins made it look like the viewer is being  attacked by an oncoming predator (which was, in
fact, only four inches long).

“I loved this cover,” Howlett is quoted as saying,  “because I thought the picture had real attititude. It looks
like the crab is saying,’ This is my beach.'” Jackontheweb

The Fat of the Land was touted as the album that would bring electronica/techno to a worldwide audience (Of course, in Britain, the group already had a staggeringly
large following that was  breathlessly awaiting the album.)  The Fat of the Land  falls short of masterpiece status,  but that isn't because it doesn't deliver.  Instead, it
delivers exactly what  anyone would expect:  intense hip-hop-derived rhythms,  imaginatively  reconstructed samples,  and meaningless  shouted lyrics from Keith Flint
and Maxim. Half of the album does sound quite similar to "Firestarter," especially when Flint is singing.

Granted, Liam Howlett is an inventive producer,  and he can make empty songs like "Smack My Bitch Up"  and "Serial Thrilla" kick with a visceral power,  but he is at his
best on the  funky hip-hop of  "Diesel Power" and "Funky Shit,"  as well as the mind-bending  neo-psychedelia of "Narayan"  and the blood-curdling  cover of L7's "Fuel My
Fire." "Firestarter" and all of its  rewrites capture the fire of the Prodigy at their peak, and the remaining  songs have imagination  that give the album weight. The Fat
of the Land doesn't have quite enough depth or variety to qualify as a flat-out masterpiece, but what it does have to offer is damn good. Stephen Thomas Erlewine for AllMusic

(A) Smack My Bitch Up - Breathe

(B) Diesel Power - Funky Shit

(C) Serial Thrilla - Mindfields - Narayan

(D) Firestarter - Climbatize - Fuel My Fire

"Fuel My Fire" live from Nick Machiavelli on YouTube.



Previous: Kate Bush - Never for Ever
Back to Gallery 3