T IN THE PARK FEATURE
established cult amongst school kids and late risers. Unlike British soaps at the time (they’ve since learned their lesson). N ’iglll)()lll‘.8‘ put adolescent relationships at the centre of the story lines which guaranteed a young and devoted audience.
For a couple of months the fairy tale wedding of Charlene and Scott (Jason Donovan) was the topic of discussion in playgrounds and student common rooms around the country. The rumour (at first playfully denied. bttt later confirmed by both parties) that the Kylie and Jason romance continued off screen. ensured endless coverage in the teen papers where celebrity burns brightest.
And the obviotts career move for anyone looking to capitalise on fleeting fame was to make a record: Messrs Stock. Aitken and Waterman were on hand to help. The pop—
‘The image was the only thing I truly had in my grasp so it was like “Right! Now I’m going to be Miss Vixen!” I was going to do everything I hadn’t been allowed to do before.’
savvy trio gave Kylie seventeen hit singles (plus a duet with Jason) and live albums. including a greatest hits compilation. For live years they spun her round like a record. writing a string of hits promoted in the pages of eager tabloids. who were quick to twig the the appeal ofthe showbiz ‘story’. Bttt like all teenagers (Kylie was nineteen when she had her first hit with ‘I Should Be So Lueky’ in 1988) she rebelled.
The 1990 hit ‘Better the Devil You Know’ was the turning point as Kylie started to realise that even if she had little control over the music. she could change her image. In the Barbarella-style video for ‘Devil’. Kylie upped the phwoar! factor with a vampy look that was to evolve into ‘Sex Kylie’: next to Cbarlene’s neighbourly. girl-next-door image it seemed faintly shocking. ‘The music was changing and getting better.’ Kylie told The Face last year. ‘but the image was the only thing I truly had in my grasp so it was like "Right! Now I’m going to be Miss Vixen!” l was going to do everything I hadn’t been allowed to do before.’
Image is what Kylie now does best: since escaping the embrace of the pony-tailed marketing types at PWL she has had more makeovers than Jason’s 'l’echnicolor tlt'eamcoat had hues. Music remains a mystery to her. however. Her last album. called simply Kylie illinogue in a Year Zero—ish sort of manner. was the result of a move to trendy (lance label Deconstruction. though Kylie had no more musical input than in the PWL days. A stream of fashionable writers and producers. including The Pet Shop Boys and label-mates M People. created her lightweight glossy pop/house crossover.
But at least Kylie is in a stronger position to choose who writes and produces material for her. and she can lay claim to choosing her own image. even if it is standard issue blonde bombshell. Kylie is a star who was created. but in the end. at least she did it herself. Watch and learn. Robbie.
Kylie Minague appears on the main stage
at Tin the Park
on Sunday 6 August.
Howlett the moon
From novelty beginnings, The Prodigy have grown into one of Britain’s most exciting bands in any genre. Fiona Sheperd tracked down
ast year. an album was released which soundtracked the highest highs. the longest nights and the maddest dancing. which harnessed the most aggressive energy and poured it on to four sides of the most imaginative dance music. Which passed its own comment on the Criminal Justice Bill and the strong-arm tactics used to quell rave events despite being a largely instrumental LP. and which ended up in competition with Michael Nyman for the h-lercury Music Prize. And to top it all it was brilliantly titled Music For The Jilted Generation.
lts creators were The Prodigy, the quartet (songwriter Liam llowlett. rapper Maxim and freaky dancers Keith and Leroy) best known at that point for their debut single ‘Charley’. an upfront dance anthem which sampled at well- known public information ad from the 70s (‘Charley says don’t accept offers from strangers to come and see their etchings.’ etc). l'nfortunately it spawned a host of cheesy chart rave tunes stuffed with novelty samples and has become a millstone for llowlett.
‘l’ve never regretted writing anything.’ he says. ‘but I regretted what the press started to make tts look like — like a cartoon rave band. That was never us at all and it degraded my music.’
Those last words say a lot about The Prodigy.
llowlett is passionate about his music and conveys his compulsion to write the best tracks he can. This seems a far cry from the image dance music has been tuned with (by those who don’t dance) production-line beats tailor- made for keeping a dancefloor full. llowlett does not often refer to a ‘track’; he talks about his ‘songs’ and rightly so. Music For The .lilted Generatirm is music for the hum-along generation. music which sticks in the brain and gets under your skin. Above all else it is exciting and adrenalised.
‘1 get a feeling.’ says llowlett. ‘When I write. it either hits or it doesn’t. As The Prodigy grows and grows my quality control gets stricter and stricter and if it’s not kickin’. if it doesn’t hit
main man Liam Howlett.
the mark. it just gets thrown away. That’s how 1 think when I’m writing: “Would I like to hear ‘this when I’m out? Would I be impressed?” ‘We’re in the clubs every week. You have to keep tip with what’s going on and not a lot is going on at the moment. The most exciting thing is what The Chemical Brothers are doing and we feel we’re part of that scene too. that new movement of slower hip-hop beats. We’ve already started going in that direction with ‘Poison’.’
‘Poison’. a grinding. addictive number with the most arresting drums heard in a long while. was The Prodigy’s most recent single and the last track to be taken from the album. which is so full of potential singles it could have been milked from now till Christmas. The Prodigy are keen to move on. Howlett enthuses about a new funky track, the first material finished for their next album, which was successfully road— tested at their celebratory Glastonbury Festival headline slot. ‘lt’s the best gig we ever did.’ he beams.
Playing a rock festival is right up The Prodigy’s street. They’ve been using guitars live and on their records for eighteen months now and Howlett is fired up by the raw guitars of Rage Against The Machine and White Zombie. He also wants acceptance for his band across the board. not just from the dance fraternity.
‘At the end of the day, you can’t rely on something that’s not there any more.’ he says. ‘The rave scene is a club scene now and the biggest form of club music is house. We’re not a house act and so we can’t rely on playing in clubs. The dance scene is so split up now — people find it hard to categorise us. Wejust end tip being booked as a band.’
The group have just returned from a coast-to- coast liying tour of the States where the dance scene is so small they don’t distinguish between different genres. The Prodigy were pleased to find themselves playing venues again as opposed to clubs. Not that there’s any one environment in which to sample their music; the staple ‘buzz’ element is always there.
‘The show is quite aggressive. but it’s only the aggression of letting off energy and people should understand that is the way we express ourselves.’ explains Howlett.
The Prodigy never sounded more exciting than when they swept Glastonbury before them. They (and we) hope they can repeat the feat at T In The Park.
‘l’d like to look back in live or ten years’ time and say. “Yeah. we really did take a few chances. we really did change a few things.” and not just. “We had a few hits. the satne formula.‘the same video. the same sound”. like all those Euro acts. I really cannot stand that Euro shit. That’s not what proper dance music is about. That hasn’t got any feeling or emotion at all and that’s whatit’s about.’
The Prodigy appear on the main stage at Tin the Park on Saturday
The List 28 Jul- l0 Aug 1995 7