FAT25 · 9th track: Climbatize · Perry F.
Today’s topic is the 9th track off The Fat of the Land album — Climbatize. Not many people know that initially it was supposed to be a vocal track. Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction was to provide the vocals for the track but something didn’t go as planned, so ‘Climbatize’ was released as an instrumental. Let’s get right into it!
In Martin James’ book, We Eat Rhythm, Liam stated that he had thought that Farrell’s vocals would’ve been great for such an atmospheric track. When the instrumental demo was somewhat completed, Liam contacted Perry and sent him said demo. Farrell agreed to record some vocals for the track but asked Liam to perform at his festival, so Liam also agreed. A bit later it turned out that The Prodigy couldn’t perform since the band was busy touring and wasn’t available on the dates Liam and Perry had agreed on earlier. In turn, Farrell refused to record the vocals.
‘We Eat Rhythm’ by Martin James: Liam had been working on a track that started quietly and just grew to massive proportions. The guest vocalist he had in mind was Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros fame.
Liam: Trying to have a conversation with him was hopeless. We were sitting there, you know telling him how we were into his stuff and how we’d love to do his Lollapalooza sometime. Next thing I know he calls me at home and asks if we can do his new tour that he was setting up. And I said “yeah”. After the conversation I was like really excited about it all so I started on this track. Then the dates for his tour thing came through and I looked at my schedule but we already had a lot of festivals booked up and we basically couldn’t make it. So we phoned him back and said unfortunately we can’t make the gig. And he said, “if you can’t do the gig I can’t do the track”. That track was written with him in mind and I can’t picture anyone else with that track, I had to get rid of it. I thought the whole thing was a bit shitty really.
In the end the track was released as the only instrumental on the album, ‘Climbatize’, a tune that Liam maintains a strong dislike for.
After the albums’ release, in an interview for Addicted to Noise magazine, Liam said that due to Farrell’s refusal he had decided to invite Crispian Mills from Kula Shaker as the vocalist and had had no regrets about this decision.
‘Addicted to Noise’ magazine: You collaborated with Crispian Mills of Kula Shaker on the nine-minute long ‘Narayan’. Why him?
Howlett: I approached Perry Farrell a year and a half ago to do a track. I’d written a track I thought was a really good instrumental. It had a real psychedelic feel about it. And I just liked Perry’s voice. He’d already agreed to do the track. He said, “If I agree to do this track, can you play at my festival, the Enit festival.” And we were like, “OK, we’ll check the dates out!” We went back to check on the dates and unfortunately, we had like Phoenix, Reading, a lot of big English festivals which were important to us. So I just got back to him and said, “Look, I can’t do this Enit thing because we’ve got other bookings.” And he basically said, “Well, I can’t do the track then.” He turned the track down.
And then I heard Tattva by Kula Shaker and I didn’t know anything about the band. But I got a similar type of vibe. It wasn’t quite the same. But I got a similar feeling that if I used Crispian in the way he delivered the vocal (on ‘Tattva’) on some beats and stuff, it could have a similar vibe. And as always, things turned out different from the original idea.
You might have a reasonable question: but what does Crispian with his vocals for ‘Narayan’ have to do with all that if we’re talking about ‘Climbatize’? Rumored, early in the production, both ‘Narayan’ and ‘Climbatize’ were supposed to be one whole track. When Farrell refused to provide his vocals, Crispian Mills was asked for a feature. As a result, the first demo of ‘Narayan’ included some portions of ‘Climbatize’. Said demo has never been made public, but it’s easy to imagine what it might’ve sounded like if you listen to a later cover version of ‘Narayan’ by Kula Shaker.
It’s clear that this cover contains some melodies off ‘Climbatize’ – it’s very likely that built his cover on a demo version, not on the final album version of ‘Narayan’. Anyway, at some point after Crispian had been asked to provide his vocals, the original demo fell apart into two separate tracks, the first one being ‘Narayan’ and the second one being the instrumental ‘Climbatize’. Probably Liam still hoped to have a collaboration with Perry Farrell and kept ‘Climbatize’ for his vocals, but eventually the 9th track of the album sounds the way we know it.
Apart from the well-known horn sample from The Horn Track by Egyptian Empire, ‘Climbatize’ contains a drum loop from another track. Liam sampled the drums from a track by The Jedi Knight (aka Global Communication) entitled Air Drums From Outer Bongolia. They caught wind of this and wasted no time trying to sue The Prodigy for the use of the drum loop, but Liam had a trump card up his sleeve: he knew that The Jedi Knights sampled the Incredible Bongo Band – Bongolia on their track. XL Recordings ended up buying the rights to ‘Bongolia’ and in turn threatened to sue The Jedi Knights. While this clipped the wind from their sails, it also got back to George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars who created the term ‘Jedi Knight’, and ended up suing The Jedi Knights over the use of the name.
After the album’s release the track became a part of live sets but was never played in full length. At first, Liam played only the horn sample which was used as an intro for ‘Mindfields’, but a bit later, in late ’97, Howlett turned this intro into a complete jam track with some additional beats.
Later, towards the mid ’98, this jam track was rearranged into a complete live remix.
Our team is working on the reconstruction of that ’98 live remix – we’ll publish it and let you know when it’s finished. Still, we’d like to tease you with a snippet of demo which can be found in the secret section!
Later, the live remix dropped out from the live sets. Up until mid ’05, again, only the horn loop was played as the intro for ‘Mindfields’. But when ‘Their Law’ tour started, Liam began experimenting with the track and played a couple of new live versions. The first one was the refreshed ’05 remix with the beats which is available as a sound deck recording from Argentina.
A bit later, the track was turned into something reprise-ish and was played at gigs before the Encore up until mid 2006.
This version has been reconstructed by us and we’re happy to share it with you!
By the way, this version marked the end of, say, the gig-life of ‘Climbatize’ – the track hasn’t been played live since 2006. Till this year! As many of you know, Liam fetched the track off the dusty shelf for the 25 Years of The Fat Of The Land tour. ‘Climbatize’ became a part of the live set again and was played as an intro mash-up with the ‘Warriors Dance’ vocals before the remix of ‘Everybody In The Place’.
At the end of our article we’d like to remind you that there’s an official studio remix of ‘Climbatize’ many fans know absolutely nothing about. In 2002, when the band was touring with their new ‘BGAT’ single, a house remix of ‘Climbatize’ produced by Christophe D’Abuc conquered the British and European clubs and quickly became popular. Later it turned out that Christophe D’Abuc was one of the aliases of Chris Lake, a well-known house producer. This alias was used by Chris to release his unofficial bootlegs and remixes of popular hits.
Despite the fact that the remix was released unofficially as a white label, it became very popular with the club djs and featured in many dj-sets and dj-mixes. As Chris himself explained, the popularity of his remix became known to Liam and XL Recordings, so they decided to buy the rights and license it as quickly as possible, rendering it an official release.
Additional thanks to: Trim Silence, Split & Canyon Hill