Forgotten 20th anniversary: AON①

 
Exactly 19 years ago, on August 23rd, 2004, the 4th studio album of The Prodigy Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned was released (officially in UK). But strangely enough, today we will talk not about it, but about its brother – the first version of this album, which should have been released in the beginning of 2003, 20 years ago. And also on this day, August 23rd, 2002, already 21 years ago, there was a live premiere of the final version of Nuclear in Leeds, which was to be the second single after Babys Got A Temper, and should be released just before AONO#1 release. So, today we will talk about all of this!

Liam Howlett for Select (01/02/99): “I’m not saying anything about a new album yet, I’m just kicking a few beats around. The first thing that I want to do is record the ultimate ’90s punk anthem – just to capture that spirit and energy – but on an electronic tip.

The concept of alternate realities and multiple universes has become a recent trend in pop culture, so we decided to keep up and speculate: what would have happened if Howlett had taken a different direction and released the first version of ‘AONO’? 1 year ago, on the 20th anniversary, we already discussed the single Baby’s Got A Temper, which was released as the first single from the forthcoming album. But in addition to ‘BGAT’, there were many other pre-album tracks that were planned for the very first version of the album.


Maverick Promo Poster 2002

2000

To start with, the album title was actually announced back in early 2000, and the first track written for it was not ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ at all, but the legendary No Souvenirs – a collaboration between Howlett and Robert 3D of Massive Attack for the movie ‘The Beach’.

http://www.xl-recordings.com/news/news.htm (March 8, 2000):
Work is underway on the new PRODIGY album. It is to be titled: ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’

‘No Souvenirs’ was originally planned as a film soundtrack but for various reasons, it was not included in the movie. However, it was already planned to be an album track for the forthcoming LP after the soundtrack release was cancelled.

Howlett told The Maker: “I’ve done a track with Massive Attack. No, it’s not specifically for ‘The Beach’. It’s the first one I’ve finished for the next album and it’s come out really well.”

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2001

Our article on the unreleased first version of AONO would not be complete without mentioning 2001. We previously discussed the 2001 stuff – theprodi.gy/live2001, but it’s worth revisiting a few points.

In general, there wasn’t much information about the upcoming album in the media during 2001. However, when the band went on a mini European tour in the summer, two new tracks from the album were revealed in addition to ‘No Souvenirs’. These tracks in the live setlist were Trigger and Nuclear. Liam stated that they went on tour primarily to test out these new tunes live on stage.



Toward the end of 2001 came out, Liam made two small announcements regarding the new album.

Howlett to NME: “I thought it was gonna be really rocky but it’s turning out quite electronic. I don’t know what it’s going to be like yet but I know it’s not going to be all fake blood and stupid hairdos. I’m doing one track with Perry Farrell and Keith (Flint)’s playing guitar on the album too.”

Collaborating with Perry Farrell was originally planned for ‘The Fat Of The Land’ in 1996-1997, but it didn’t happen due to Liam’s busy schedule. However, the idea to work with Perry was revived for ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’, although it never came to fruition. The title of the track and whether it was completed or not are unknown, as the work was only mentioned a few times without any specifics.
Keith Flint, which mentioned as a guitarist, was most likely referring to Keith’s solo project FLINT, which he formed with Jim Davies and Kieron Pepper. The “guitar” tracks recorded for FLINT were later reworked for then-upcoming The Prodigy album.

2002

In 2002, more specific information about the album began to surface in the media. Keef and Maxim stated that 9 tracks were ready for the album by the beginning of the year, with a planned release of the first single in September and the album itself by the end of the year. However, Liam Howlett himself did not want to reveal any details about the album other than the fact that it was half-recorded.

Howlett to Q Magazine: “I’ve got no interest in talking about the direction of the album because it’s only half done and it could go anywhere at this point.” Howlett declares. “It’s on its way, it’s all positive, do you know what I mean? Everyone’s getting all anxious, but it doesn’t fell like that to me. I’ve only been working on the new one for five months. It’ll be ready probably in about six months’ time.”

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that it was in this Q Magazine article from Australian 2002 tour was announced track – Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned – probably the most mythical track in the band’s history, the existence of which was later denied by Liam himself. It was mentioned in the article from the words of the author of the article, not in a direct quote from Liam, so it is quite possible that it was some kind of mistake. It was on the basis of this article that other magazines also started spreading the confusion.

Borrowing from a new composition (which will go un-aired tonight), the album’s working title is, famously, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned.

via Q Magazine (2002)

During this Australian tour in January, the band also debuted another new track, ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’, which was later released as the album’s first single, earlier than originally planned. It is unclear whether the earlier release was due to label pressure on Liam, but rumors circulated about it at the time.

It’s worth noting that in the April announcement of the upcoming single, Rolling Stone magazine also announced that the next single would be ‘Nuclear’. Along with the official single announcements, the album’s release date was also announced. Initially, the LP was planned for release in the Autumn of 2002, and there were even posters with the Maverick announcement that can be found online.

Maverick promo poster 2002

The group’s British label, XL, plans to release “Baby’s Got a Temper” in July, followed most likely by “Nuclear” and then the album in late 2002. The band’s American label, Madonna’s Maverick Records imprint, will follow the lead of XL and release the singles and album as it becomes available.

via The Rolling Stone (2002)

DESIGN

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PRE-ALBUM SINGLES

Almost immediately after the release of the long-awaited first single in July, the first alarm bells appeared concerning the album itself. At first, it became known that the album’s release was postponed to January 2003. The plan was still to release the second single ‘Nuclear’, followed by the album, which was about 80% ready at the time.

Maverick Promo CD 2002-2003

The new Prodigy album, ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’, is now expected in 2003. “I’ve got 80 per cent of the album sowhere in my studio,” Howlett said to NME. “I’ve just got to assemble it. The other 20 per cent is going to be collaborations and stuff.”

via NME (2002)

The guys announced roughly the same plans in a special MTV Weekend 2002: Essential Prodigy tv-report, and also gave a few other details about how they recorded the new tracks.

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The second alarm bell was Liam’s doubts about ‘BGAT’. Initially, in interviews following the release of the single, Liam expressed uncertainty about whether ‘Baby’s Got a Temper’ would appear on the album. However, a month later he confirmed that the track would definitely not be included in the LP.


    Interview on XFM 2002

Liam on Radio One:: “It’s a bridging gap, this record. I mean, I see the next record is like a comeback record which will lead into the album. And I thought whether this single should actually go on the album because there’d be a bit of distance between this record and the album itself, but we can figure that out. The record company were like, what? I see it. You’ve just written something and now you don’t want to put it on an album you haven’t finished. But we’re talking about releasing the single towards the end of the year and then rolling with the album next year.”

Towards the fall, although The Prodigy introduced a new updated version of ‘Nuclear’ and performed a couple of new tracks, the band faced obstacles. You can watch and listen new version of ‘Nuclear’ on the top of the article↑. Shortly after their summer shows, news started to emerge that the album’s release would be delayed indefinitely. Howlett even revealed that half of the tracks performed live wouldn’t make it onto the album, including their previously released single ‘BGAT’.

Neko: “Last year when you played Reading festival you had this massive build-up and made it look like it was going to be this big comeback, you changed the stage and the show compared to earlier shows that year, but then it all went completely quiet afterwards.”

 

Liam: “I think the reason why we changed it was to make it, in our eyes, kinda special, you know. Australia for me was some of the best shows we ever did, Australia was just fucking amazing, I loved the place and I had a really good time there and loved the different bands that were playing there. I hated Reading, I fucking hated it, we should have never done it. That combined with ‘Babys got a Temper’ was the point for me ‘Fucking stop now. Just fucking stop everything. Let me get back in the studio’. You can only do something so many times, before it feels like you’re doing the same thing. After Reading and releasing that record we just had to stop, because I wanted to have time to think about where I was going to go.”

 

via Interview for Neko (Dec 2003)

Things became even more uncertain when, towards the end of 2002, the band disappeared from the public eye and was hardly mentioned in the media. The planned single ‘Nuclear’ went into obscurity, and the release of the album, initially planned for March 2003, was postponed indefinitely. It was only in December 2002 that it became known that Liam had decided to completely revise the album following the criticism of the single.

“Coming your way in 2003… THE PRODIGY – Having gone back to the drawing board after a disappointingly received comeback single, and lukewarm performances at Reading/Leeds. Liam`s taken on board fan feedback and re-worked the album, still destined to be called Always OutNumbered Never OutGunned”

via FHM (30.12.02)

SOMEWHERE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE

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That’s the way it is! We’ll be updating this article as we discover new information and content!

Headmaster: ALL SOUVENIRS
Additional thanks to: Jimmy Turrell


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