The Prodigy deserves a lot of credit for lending electronica a human face and rock star attitude. Unlike many other electronic acts (for e.g., Aphex Twin, who does so little on-stage I once saw it/him perform without realizing it), the Prodigy are all fire and in-your-face aggression. Although Liam Howlett has always been the act’s mastermind, it was sometime vocalist Keith Flint, with his spiky hair and Johnny Rottenish delivery, who helped break the band in America with the singles “Firestarter” and “Breathe” from the 1997 album The Fat of the Land.
The next Prodigy outing, The Dirtchamber Sessions, Vol. 1, appeared two years later. Rather than repeating the formula of his breakthrough hit, however, Howlett abandoned his usual vocalists and original music in favor of showing off his mixing skills, incorporating everything from Herbie Hancock to the Sex Pistols along the way. So in a way, the new single “Baby’s Got a Temper” is the real follow-up to The Fat of the Land, since it features Flint singing atop typical hard-edged Howlett beats.
The single doesn’t sound like a great leap forward from the last Flint-fronted tracks, and that’s a big disappointment considering that we’ve been waiting five years for it. While the song might have sounded good in the late ‘90s, it now seems rather dated, especially when it references rohypnol as if it’s something new.
Unfortunately, there is no amazing B-side to make up for this, as the CD single consists of four versions of the same song. The dub mix provides a harder, more dance-oriented take on the original, while the instrumental version is fairly pointless (“Ooh, it’s the same song I just heard twice, only without words!”). The “Acappella” (sic) version, however, is outright awful. Lest you think it involves Keith Flint crooning folk-style, be warned that it’s actually the vocal track from the original version (complete with electronic effects and long breaks) isolated from the music. It’s not too pleasing to hear, and the whole idea is kind of creepy—much like the idea of singles that contain multiple versions of the same song. Let’s hope the Prodigy’s next full-length is better.