Every genre has its era-defining album, and in the case of rave, it’s arguably The Prodigy’s Experience, released on this day (28 September) in 1992.
Of course, by the time Experience came out, the Essex natives were already riding the crest of a wave, with the comic capery of Charly making way for tracks like Your Love and Everybody in the Place.
But as Mixmag suggested on the cover of its August 1992 issue, a month before Experience was released, did The Prodigy’s clownish behaviour play a role in ‘killing’ the nascent rave scene?
As an editorial put it in that issue, The Prodigy’s Charly was the catalyst that ushered in the then-prevalent ‘cartoon rave’ phase, with tracks such as Trip to Trumpton, Tetris and Sesame’s Treet taking over the charts.
‘It was Liam’s ‘Charly Says’ that truly took rave out of the underground, beyond the charts, into noveltyland,’ the magazine writes.
‘There were others as well, but the difference was that Liam was as much a part of the underground as everyone was. He was the kid up on the speaker with his hands in the air. He wasn’t being cynical when he made the record, he was being sincere. He was sincerely trying to capture the essence of rave. The tragedy was, he did.’
And yet. Later in the same article, the author suggests that ‘even at out most sentimental moments, we will never remember Charly Says like earlier generations have remembered Elvis Heartbreak Hotel, The Beatles Penny Lane or even The Clash’s London Calling’.
But now, 26 years later, whether it be merely due to an undying love for nostalgia, or simply because modern music is utter shite, we are still incessantly drawn back to Experience… and yes, even Charly.
We sense that Liam wasn’t listening to the begrudgers then, and he’s certainly not listening to them now…
[Article taken from Mixmag, August 1992]