1999 Live Beats • Fuck What U Want!

 
Traditionally, each year we celebrate not only the anniversaries of released tracks, but also the premieres of unreleased live tunes by The Prodigy. And today we commemorate a couple of live bangers from 1999, and in particular the mysterious yet legendary Fuck What You Want!, which recently turned 25.

Original upload by Damian Burke

Fuck What You Want! can rightly be called the only new track of ’99 and the first fresh tune since The Fat Of The Land and its singles – if you don’t count various short jam improvs. Contrary to popular belief, it was not premiered at the April gig in St. Petersburg (Russia), as it was definitely played at the first concerts of the ’99 tour in South Africa for the very first time.

1999.04.17 – SKK Sports Complex, St. Petersburg, Russia
Photo by Vasily Kudryavtsev | instagram.com/bastard242

We know that the track was definitely played at the second show in Cape Town, South Africa, on 22 March. We found this information in an old Google chat, where a guy who attended the show asked other fans about the tune.

Met: Hi. Just been to the Prodigy live in Cape Town and heard a new song, does anyone know the title? Lyrics are: ‘Say what you want, Do what you want, Fuck what you want, Bow down to the emperor’ (?) Thanks

It was also performed in Johannesburg on the 24th. This was confirmed by a fan who was also there: ‘The set in no particular order or neccesarily complete included: Firestarter, Breathe, Mindfields, Funky Shit, Fuel My Fire, ‘Do what you want, Say what you want, Fuck what you want’, Voodoo People, Remix’, he recalled.

1999.03.24 – The Big Nite Out, Johannesburg, South Africa

‘Fuck What You Want’ was most likely premiered at the first South African gig (20 March 1999 – The Big Nite Out, Durban, South Africa) and the appearance of this track in the setlist of the ’99 tour is no coincidence. The main message (‘We do what the fuck we want!’) is nothing less than Maxim’s answer to the Beastie Boys! Some may remember that at the penultimate show of ’98 in Reading, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys asked Liam not to perform Smack My Bitch Up… Read more about this story in our in-depth feature on the ‘Smack’.

Right before the ‘98 Reading Festival, where both bands were set to perform, Beastie Boys called The Prodigy to talk about ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. In a later email to NME, Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch explained, that ‘rather than make a media event out of it’ New York trio prefered to call the band directly and ‘tell them privately how we felt, in the hope that they would strike it from their set’. As a smashing answer, The Prodigy just wanted to prank at the Beasties: while The Prodigy’s set, Maxim stated that the band will play ‘what the fuck they want’, and Keith Flint for the first and the last time in his career went onstage heavily made-up in a woman’s dress, white-faced, dark-eyed and bald-haired.

Reading Festival, Reading, UK (29 August 1998)
‘We received a call from one of the Beastie Boys.
They didn’t want us to play dis fookin tune!
And the way things go, I do what the fuck I want.
You understand?’
, Maxim snarls at the crowd on 47:10

So it comes as no surprise that just one gig after Reading, a track with with the message like this appeared in the band’s setlist. You could also call it a kind of Beastie Boys Diss, as is often the case with hip-hop artists.

Unfortunately, the song’s fate was really short and basically it was only performed 7 times – on all the shows of the ’99 tour. The tour was abruptly cut short after a show in Bulgaria, where ‘Fuck What You Want’ was performed for the last time. There are 4 amateur recordings of the song available online – from all the ’99 shows except the first 3 from South Africa.



And the only video was shot at the last gig in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 28 August 1999 (see the video at 27:00).

Before the gig, Liam made some comments about the new tracks for the Bulgarian fan community:

“We`re playing a couple of new tracks in Bulgaria, but nothing is gonna be like solid album tracks, I`m just preparing the stuff”

It’s also worth mentioning that the legit title of the tune was revealed from the same last Bulgarian gig setlist.


Also, in old fan reports you can find some details about the track supposedly having some kind of beta version and being evolved from gig to gig… Actually, this isn’t true: it was played completely live and its structure was randomly changed a little bit at each concert, just like other remarkable live tunes (e.g. ‘Dead Ken Beats’, ‘Back 2 Skool’ and others). In addition, the recordings of the tracks left a lot to be desired: they were all made on analog tape recorders or a film camera, which resulted in a lot of sound artefacts and incorrect speed of the audio after digitizing. However, the original tempo of the track was around 107 BPM.

Incidentally, due to the very poor quality of the audio, it is quite difficult to make out all the track’s components, and for the same reason it is really hard to recreate it. But it’s obvious that the tune was somehow based on samples, like many other live bangers. However, we were able to identify the main beat loop: the same one was used by Death In Vegas in their Death Threat.


    Sample: beat
    Sample source: unknown
    Also can be found in: Death In Vegas – Death Threat [The Contino Sessions, 1999]

It is not known where Liam got the loop in its pure form for ‘Fuck What You Want’. Most likely it was taken from some other source that Death In Vegas also chopped it from. But the thing is that ‘Death Threat’ was also released in 1999 and perhaps Liam just had a sample pack of this tune. For example, Death In Vegas could have asked Liam to work on this track or to remix it. Nevertheless, it can be easily traced that it was not sampled directly from the original ‘Death Threat’, because 3 years later at the Australian gig in Melbourne on 28th January 2002 the clean loop was played as a fill after ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’.


Incidentally, in the same year, 2002, fans from the Brainkiller community chatted with the band and asked about the fate of ‘Fuck What You Want’.

FreakoftheForest: oh and do you plan on doing anything further with ‘we do what the fuck we want’? i really like that tune
The Prodigy: it was mainly a live tune Prodigy, but anything is still possible in this experimental stage

In those days after the first ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’ release was shelved, Liam often talked about how disappointed he was with ‘Baby’s Got A Temper’ and often complained that half of his new tracks were as slow as ‘Poison’, including numerous live jam tracks from that period.

Liam Howlett for Neko: So with this album, I started writing a couple of tunes and then I thought ‘Hang on, this album sounds quite slow’ so I kind of had to start and write some faster tracks because it really started to sound very slow. A lot of the tracks were sort of ‘Poison’ kind of speed and ‘Baby’s Got a Temper’, so we’re doing a couple of faster ones now’.

That’s why ‘Fuck What You Want’ can rightly be described as the beginning of this ‘slow’ tracks trend.


Also worth mentioning is another little jam track that was also played several times in ’99.

In the fan community it was called ‘Ill Shit Beats’ because it was based on a loop from the track ‘Ill Shit’ by DJ Mixmaster Mike (who, oddly enough, is also a member of the Beastie Boys).


    Sample: beat
    Sample source: Mix Master Mike – Ill Shit [Anti-Theft Device, 1998]

Apparently Liam started playing this loop after he had finalized the ‘Breezeblock’ mix for the release: the original Radio 1 broadcast did not include this sample, but the final version of the mixtape, entitled ‘Dirtchamber’, did…


Check out the in-depth feature on
The Dirtchamber Sessions (Volume One):
theprodi.gy/dirtchamber

As we wrote above, the track ‘Fuck What You Want’ was only played 7 times because the ’99 tour was suddenly cancelled due to some disagreements in the live line-up of The Prodigy.

Due to various misunderstandings, the one and only Gizz Butt left the band in May 1999: the show in Brazil on 15 May 1999 was his last gig with The Prodigy. Interestingly, at the concert in Greece on 15 July, Kieron Pepper took over the guitar on some tracks, leaving the drums alone.



The last gig in Sofia was quite special because it was Leeroy’s final gig with The Prodigy for now. He ended the show in a rather epic way – and not as a dancer at all. During Fuel My Fire, the last song on the setlist, while Kieron was playing the guitar, Leeroy jumped behind the drums and beat the fuck out of them!



Headmaster: Sixshot
Additional thanks to: Split, Neko
Header ‘Maxim’ font: ‘Wishbone’ by Karl Randay


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