Baby’s Got A Temper · 20th Anniversary
The Prodigy’s Baby’s Got A Temper was released on 1 July 2002 and had a pretty interesting fate: it was loved by many but after all was renounced by the band. The single was supposed to precede the release of the Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned — but not the one that came out in 2004. Another version of the album was half-ready in 2002, but the buzz around Baby’s Got A Temper forced the band to set a different direction. Liam Howlett caught himself writing the second Firestarter and threw the album away.
The Prodigy are no stranger to scandals. Now Keith Flint sang about Rohypnol — a powerful sedative drug with sad fame. It is known to induce anterograde amnesia in sufficient doses; individuals are unable to remember certain events that they experienced while under the influence of the drug. The combination of ethanol and Rohypnol completely knocks out the memories of the ill-fated evening. Because of the constant repeating ‘We love Rohypnol’ in the chorus, NME magazine called The Prodigy a ‘bunch of morons’ or something — Radio 1 also banned ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ at the early promotion stage.
‘I don’t really care,’ — Flint replied to NME. ‘If I’m writing a tune, I have to visualize it onstage, not on Radio 1’.
The song was given its world premiere on BBC Radio 1 on May 16th, but the track was edited to remove any reference to the drug. A spokesperson for the band told NME that the group had not provided a radio edit of the song to the station and have no intention of doing so. She said the track was edited by Radio 1 at their end so it would fit into their daytime schedules. She also commented: ‘We’ve given them the finished track but it’s up to radio to do what they see fit’. Obviously, the band has not heard the edited version, as they were on the way back from a video shoot for the single. Later the song will be officially edited for radio broadcasts, and the critics will agree that the new track is reminiscent of the second ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.
Keith Flint for NME: I don’t know its true medical title. Have I tried it? Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s what the song is about. It’s a reflection on going out, maybe doing cocaine, then doing downers. Y’know, some people do all manner of downers and Rohypnol is one of them. If I wanted Rohypnol, I could get it off girlfriends of mine, so I wrote about that, how punk they are. I respect that. A lot of girls I know are more out there than guys. The song is just thoughts summoned up about nights out, getting high, bringing yourself back down again
In that interview Keith also told about the original ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ demo: ‘In its original format, it was quite slow, drugged-out kind of song. Almost smacked out — which I wasn’t doing myself, at all. But that’s where it was coming from’.
Liam also shared a few words about the first version of the track:
Liam Howlett for TRAX magazine:
How did audiences react to these early versions of new tracks?
It’s an instructive experience to play unreleased tracks live. We were initially very happy with our first version of “Baby’s Got A Temper” which was slower when we first played it. It was quite hip-hop. But finally the scene allowed us to perceive a lack of energy, so we reworked it again.
Our team is on the way to restore the demo version of BGAT.
High quality audio will be freely available on our Bandcamp!
Right before the single was released in 2002, there were numerous rumors that the first new single after ‘The Fat Of The Land’ will be called No Souvenirs — an atmospheric track out of the ‘Prodigy-style’ with vocals by 3D from Massive Attack. But at the end of the day, ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ was taken out of the stash and updated. The band was kinda hostage by their racy image after ‘The Fat’ times, so they needed an aggressive outrageous comeback. At the same time, NME took the return extremely negatively.
NME’s Ted Kessler: They were the firestarters, twisted firstarters, and now they’re just total fucking idiots. The Prodigy: grown, pierced men who live in palatial Essex mansions and who laughably believe that singing a chorus of ‘we use royphonol’ over some crappy Casio riff will make them appear edgy, vital and dangerous again. No. It makes them seedy old men with bad hair trying to recapture past glories by employing the final weapon of the comically desperate: the drug song.
In any case, it was rather reckless to return with ‘No Souvenirs’ after such bangers as ‘The Fat Of The Land’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. But the ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ release still did not seem complete, it kinda lacked a branded b-side and remixes from external artists. There was an impression that the single was assembled in haste.
But still, one side-remix was made — Leeroy Thornhill officially remixed ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ back in the days by the special request of the band: it was supposed to be released in 2003 on one of the band’s next singles, yet time has judged otherwise. By the way, because of the rumor that Leeroy was remixing The Prodigy’s new single, the story was born that Thornhill was remixing ‘No Souvenirs’. As it turned out in 2020, the news about this had nothing to do with reality: Leeroy never planned to remix ‘No Souvenirs’. “I know nothing about the ‘No Souvenirs’ rumor. Hear this for the first time!” — Thornhill puzzles.
List of ‘No Souvenirs’ versions from early 00s:
While being interviewed by theprodigy.ru in 2003, Leeroy also add that ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ was released under the huge pressure of XL Recordings. ‘The Fat Of The Land’ revealed in 1997, and the new record was supposed to be ready for the winter of 1999, but due to the lack of ready-made material, the release was constantly delayed. Leeroy recalled the original version of ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ as ‘Keith’s song’ and added that ‘the problem with Keith’s album is people haven’t heard it yet, it’s fucking good’.
But right after the ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ release The Prodigy were quite confident about the single. The band played it live many times, they filmed a video, and the leader himself was convinced the band did choose the right direction.
Liam Howlett for NME: It’s a reflection on what goes on in Keith’s mad head and his mad world. The overall feel is like, Keith gets fucked up, goes out with these girls, comes back, and writes a song reflecting on his nights out with these girls. He came with those lyrics and I’m like ‘Fucking cool, I like it!’. Have I tried Rohypnol? Absolutely, yeah. It’s like modern-day valium.
But shit happens: the band records an album, invests in an expensive promotion campaign, and a few years later they say that it all was a mistake and that the album was not good enough. An almost three-year non-stop tour in support of ‘The Fat Of The Land’, the bunch of successful singles, a large amount of incredible live shows, and the legendary status of the band itself put The Prodigy in a difficult period in its career.
Leeroy Thornhill left the band, Flint and Maxim focused on their solo work — everyone needed a rest. Liam remembers that the guys managed to communicate with great difficulties. XL Recordings was begging for new tunes, and Howlett was running around with the idea that The Prodigy needed a new vocalist. Even when the guys finally mixed ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’, Liam still had his doubts.
Liam Howlett for DJ Ron Slomowicz: All I knew was I had to find the excitement and energy in my music that I used to have, so I set out to start finding myself again. Finding what the fuck I was about and what did I like? What were The Prodigy about and what was I really about? Getting back to the stage of putting the music first. I didn’t want the focus to be on Keith or Maxim or the front bit. I wanted to focus it on the music first and bring that to the attention of people again.
Liam regretted letting Flint get too close to the studio. Remembering ‘The Fat Of The Land’ times, Howlett recalled how he used to record everything on his own, and added the vocalists only at the final production stages. ‘I pulled on Keith (Flint) too much on that’ — he replied to NME. ‘Keith’s lyrics are very introverted and that’s not we’re about. The Prodigy are about fist-in-the-air shit, real simple. But it was important because it showed me exactly where I shouldn’t go’.
Originally the song was written by Keef himself. After canceling the 2002 ‘Always Outnumbered’ concept with its ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’, ‘Nuclear’, ‘Trigger’, and some other tunes, Keith brought this track back to his forthcoming solo album ‘Device 1’. The song titled ‘NNNN’ aka ‘No Name, No Number’ showed up as a last hidden track on ‘Device #1’ and was not mentioned in the album’s tracklist.
The heavy-guitar and fuzzy-punk-attitude mix mentioned above was recorded in the 2000s. Anyway, the album ended up not being released in 2003.
In the second part of the ‘BGAT 20th Anniversary’ article we will share the story behind the video filming and the cover artwork! Subscribe and stay tuned for more!
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