Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 3/25/09.
After the release of 1997's The Fat of the Land, the Prodigy were clearly the hottest electronic music act around the world. Despite their success, the band courted controversy over their single Smack My Bitch Up along with its accompanying music video. More problems emerged at the 1998 Reading Festival when the Beastie Boys asked the Prodigy not to play that song and they did as they were accused by feminists groups and such over misogyny. Around the same time, the Prodigy was now being looked as an electro-punk act thanks to the attention devoted to its vocalist/dancer Keith Flint and in his punk look. For the group's brainchild and producer Liam Howlett, the attention on the music seemed lost as he made a guest appearance on BBC radio doing some DJ mixes that proved to be popular. In response to its popularity, Howlett decided to release a compilation album of DJ mixes he created entitled The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1.
Produced and compiled by Liam Howlett, The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1 is a mixtape of material from Howlett compiling records from various artists into a mix album. Filled with an array of music ranging from the Beastie Boys, Ultramagnetic MC's, Chemical Brothers, Jane's Addiction, Meat Beat Manifesto, the Sex Pistols, and many others. It's an album that has Howlett taking control and deconstruct pieces of music into eight untitled tracks into a record of nearly fifty-two minutes of music. The result is a unique, entertaining album from Liam Howlett.
The album begins with thumping hip-hop style snare beats from RUN-DMC as it starts the record with a nice rhythm. Then the scratches come in for something more shimmering with its beats and bass lines as it segues into some scratchy tribal beats of old-school hip-hop. With some scratches and swirling synthesizers, it delves into 70s funk to maintain a nice groove with some disco bass lines. Then the Ultramagnetic MC's appear with a portion of Give The Drummer Some which includes the line "smack my bitch up like a pimp". The old-school continues with some scratchy, clapping beats and frenetic bass lines with synthesizers playing around with Chic heard in the background. With its thumping presentation continuing with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five appearing to continue along with the vibrant sounds of Bomb the Bass. With Flash and the Furious Five returning for some old-school hip-hop. The vibe changes with the Madchester sounds of the Charlatans UK as it is followed by various beats until the appearance of the Prodigy's own Poison to play the electronic vibe.
The barking dogs arrive for the sound of Jane's Addiction's Been Caught Stealing to shimmy up the record with Tim Dog making an appearance for some hardcore hip-hop with the Boogie Down Production also making an appearance. The mood suddenly changes into a 70s-style song of funk and hip-hop with warbling, melodic guitar playing with a female vocalist singing. With its movement towards old-school hip-hop and scratches from the Chemical Brothers, it becomes full-on old-school with layers of beats, voices, and tribal beats to the point that it's time to break-dance. Moving towards electronic-dance courtesy of Josh Wink, KLF, and many others, it dabbles into funk with an appearance from Meat Beat Manifesto's Radio Babylon with its shimmering beats. With scratchy beats and vocals coming, it returns to old-school hip-hop with appearances from Herbie Hancock's Rock It, the Beastie Boys, and the Prodigy's Smack My B*tch Up as it goes for an incredible mash-up that is intoxicating.
The Sex Pistols suddenly appear with New York in a full-on charge with their punk-rock attitude with the swirling, bumping beats of Fatboy Slim coming through as it changes the vibe from punk to big beats. The old-school hip-hop starts to return in a mash-up of various tracks that features the bass lines from Primal Scream's Vanishing Point along with its swirling synthesizers. The Beastie Boys appear for some old-school hip-hop with the soothing soul of Barry White joining them along with the charging sounds of Public Enemy. With the old-school hip-hop vibe returning, LL Cool J makes an appearance with his frenetic rapping style as the sounds of the Digital Underground's Humpty Hump making an appearance with a mesh of sounds from Cold Cut, Uptown, and the London Funk All-Stars. It becomes all hip-hop right to the end with scratchy beats, spurts of rap, and other old-school vibes like robotic vocals and tribal beats. Even as it features a shimmering presentation of funky saxophones and beats with grinding guitars playing along.
Released in February of 1999, the record came out with no major hype or buzz as it was just released to little attention. Yet, the record did receive some critical acclaim due to Liam Howlett's mash-up of various tracks by other artists as it was considered one of the best DJ mix tapes ever made. The record however, was really a stop-gap album in between studio projects for the band where Keith Flint and Maxim Reality decided to venture into their own side projects. In 2000, the group's longtime dancer/occasional keyboardist Leeroy Thornhill left the group to venture into his own career as a DJ. With electronic music moving forward into the Internet age and the use of laptops, it was clear that the Prodigy's reign as electronic music's biggest act had come to an end with a hiatus period that would prove to be troubling.
The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1 is a brilliant, fun, and exciting record from Liam Howlett as he proves to be the reason why the Prodigy is one of electronic music's most popular acts. While it's not as accessible as their previous studio albums, the record is still one of the most enjoyable pieces of music as it stands to be one of the best DJ mix albums ever made. It delves into various styles with a fitting tribute to old-school hip-hop while proving that Liam Howlett has great ears for samples and such. In the end, The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1 is a brilliant album that serves as a great party mix while giving the listener great excuses to break-dance
The Prodigy Albums: Experience/Experience Expanded - Music for the Jilted Generation/More Music for the Jilted Generation - The Fat of the Land - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned - Invaders Must Die
(C) thevoid99 2011