The Prodigy - Music For The Jilted Generation (Vinyl)

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Music for the Jilted Generation is the second studio album by English electronic music group The Prodigy. It was first released in July 1994 by XL Recordings in the United Kingdom and by Mute Records in the United States. Just as on the group's debut album Experience (1992), Maxim Reality was the only member of the band's lineup—besides Liam Howlett to contribute to the album. This record is largely a response to the corruption of the rave scene in Britain by its mainstream status as well as Great Britain's Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which criminalised raves and parts of rave culture. This is exemplified in the song "Their Law" with the spoken word intro and the predominant lyric, the "Fuck 'em and their law" sample.
The album artwork for Music for the Jilted Generation was designed by Stewart Haygarth (cover) and Les Edwards (inner). The inner art, alluding to the conflicts of raver versus the police during the era of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act is particularly renowned.


After the release of the Prodigy's rave touchstone Experience, Parliament (no, not the funk band) put the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act into effect, some aspects of which effectively put a damper on the rave culture. Interpreted, and not unjustly, as those in power pushing around young people, the backlash in music was bitter, with the likes of Orbital, Autechre, and later even The Streets having a response. It also resulted in Liam Howlett choosing a darker, heavier and absolutely sinister new sound for the Prodigy on Music For The Jilted Generation.

This isn't kiddie show samples, giddy synths and lighthearted romps through the scene. Experience was reveling in a good time; Jilted is having that all taken away and yet continuing to have a good time just out of spite. Most of these songs sound angry, raw and generally more aggressive, fittingly taking away the poppy base of their old sound and coming up with a brutal attack designed to unsettle the weak of heart. This is evident on "Their Law," a six-minute hip hop/metal fusion that represents a turning point for the Prodigy's approach to music that would blossom in future releases. It doesn't sound like early rave music at all. It's just a fusion of different sounds designed to give the listener an ass-kicking, and an early example of the big beat that would fuel the latter half of the decade.

The darkening of the sound evident on "Their Law" serves as a great excuse to expand the Prodigy formula beyond hyperspeed four-on-the-floor workouts. One such workout, "Speedway," bleeds into a long, drawn out intro to "The Heat (The Energy)," which feels like you're floating down a river leading straight to Hell. This, and a few other moments, show an increased focus on atmosphere that really suits Howlett well, and it's hard not to wish he did more of this even today. Another hip hop dabbling comes through on the big beat classic "Poison," and make no mistake, it's definitely a hip hop approach to techno, with a borderline sickly arrangement that'll drag you into the mud and out again. It features the first use of a Maxim Reality vocal on record (not counting the live track from Experience) and, much like much of what he says live, the words are mostly for show, and to give extra gusto to the assault. "Skylined" strips the sound down to little more than some scant synth and percussion loops, and it's somewhat of a masterpiece in its own right. And "3 Kilos" simply needs to be heard - the most left-field recording the Prodigy have made (featuring flute solos!) and the one song on the album that feels kind of euphoric.

Even when they go straight into techno & breakbeat, it downplays the sample-laden patchwork feel of Experience. The samples are still there, but they accentuate; they aren't intertwined. The focus is the sheer fire of the record. Songs like "Full Throttle" "Break & Enter," and the singles - "One Love," "No Good" and the guitar-driven "Voodoo People" - just barrel forward like there isn't a thing on Earth that could stop them now.

Now this is how you counter a repressive, totalitarian move by those in power - make some of the most visceral, powerful work of your careers and give them something to fear. Some of the sounds here may be a little dated and linked firmly to their time period (such is life in techno), but it's made up for by Howlett's gift for song and studio craft which carried over well even after making a 180 in terms of his approach. Music For The Jilted Generation may be too damn long and a little overblown, but it's a forward-thinking record for the genre, filled with trailblazing and innovative music. And the kicker is that it holds together even better than Experience did. It's brilliant stuff, and any fan of dance music really needs to hear this one at least once.

By: Wyatte.

A1 Intro
A2 Break & Enter
A3 Their Law (ft. PWEI)
A4 Full Throttle
B1 Voodoo People
B2 Speedway
B3 The Heat (The Energy)
C1 Poison
C2 No Good (Start The Dance)
C3 One Love (Edit)
D1 3 Kilos
D2 Skylined
D3 Claustrophobic Sting

On XL Recordings, 1994.
Back sleeve inscription: “How can the government stop young people having a good time. Fight this bollocks”. (How prophetic of them!)