1994 Live Beats: ‘GABBA’ turned 30

As you know, in our articles we review not only official releases and milestones but also many other, much less obvious dates for music lovers and fans of The Prodigy. Today’s article is from this series! In 2023, we did a big article about the 1993 concert tour, in which we recalled and analyzed many unreleased tracks from that period that were regularly played live. This year, to mark the anniversary of the ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ album, we’ve decided to do another round-up of similar live rarities from 1994 that preceded the release of the album, as well as those that appeared on the tour after the record’s release.

Photograph by Pat Pope, 1994

Despite the fact that most of these tracks were never released, many of them became real hits among the band’s fans, on par with the best studio recordings. Since there were many more of these unreleased bangers in 1994 compared to 1993, we’ve decided to divide this topic into a series of several articles. We’ll start with perhaps one of the loudest live hits of the band – the legendary track Gabba.

This video started the history of the All Souvenirs project: August 4, 2020.
Strangely enough, ‘Gabba’ refers to the period of the album ‘Jilted Generation’ and not ‘The Fat of the Land’, although many fans associate this track with the “Fat” period. The track became the calling card/farewell song of all The Prodigy’s live shows from 1994 to 1997. However, until 1996, the track was mostly found only on bootleg releases (and not always). It wasn’t included in the 1995 VHS ‘Electronic Punks’, even though half of the material on this videocassette was dedicated to the live tour of the same year.

Perhaps the most iconic recording of ‘Gabba’ that appeared on TV with professionally recorded sound and video was the legendary show at the Phoenix Festival in the summer of 1996, although it was shown on TV a bit later.

We made an HD remaster of the Gabba video from Phoenix ’96!

Despite this, the premiere of ‘Gabba’ took place exactly 30 years ago, with a margin of error of a couple of months. It is not known exactly which gig this track was presented at, as no recordings from the spring of 1994 have surfaced so far. However, many fans believe that it was at the Zoom Night Club in Australia on June 10, 1994, where the only existing recording from that period can be found.

It may be noted that Liam was still not fully comfortable playing fully live tracks at this point, and the track was essentially fucked up at this show. Nevertheless, this didn’t affect the overall vibe of the show or Liam’s decision to continue playing challenging live tracks, despite the associated risks. Additionally, this track was chosen by Liam for a very short performance at the Avex Rave ’94 festival in Tokyo just a couple of months later, despite the fact that the band already had numerous single hits at that time.

By the way, this video can be considered the official TV debut of the track. Moreover, this recording became an official release, as both the video and audio from this performance were included in Avex label’s official compilation on various media formats. The only nuance is that ‘Gabba’, although included, was not labeled in any way in the tracklisting: on the CD, the track shares a common timeline with ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’.

CD-release of Avex Rave ’94 compilation.

The release was exclusively Japanese, so it was not widely distributed in Europe and the UK, and as a result, it did not popularize the track among the masses until the Phoenix Festival broadcast.

VHS-release of Avex Rave ’94 compilation.

The simple title of the track, as you might guess, refers to the musical style in which it was written. Here again, Liam tried to record something new and unfamiliar. Obviously, both the sound itself and the title of this banger were inspired by listening to Dutch gabber hardcore, which was just gaining momentum in the very early 1990s. By 1992-93, in the backyards of Rotterdam, the style could be considered fully formed, encompassing not only a musical genre but a large subculture in general—one that is still regarded as the biggest subculture that ever existed in Holland.

Despite the fact that Liam had already left the DJ and underground rave scene by then, he still tried to keep up with the current trends in electronic dance music, incorporating these influences into his tracks—even if they didn’t always make it to the release, they fit perfectly into live performances. Notably, this practice at live shows has been preserved almost to this day. Just remember live jams like Vogue (1995, Belgian techno), Dre Link (1998, hip-hop), Goblin (2001, downtempo), Wake The Fuck Up (2005, drum’n’bass), 2013 New Beats (EDM), and other examples—all of these were references to the trendy dance music genres of the period.

Photo from Thing One – the first subculture shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, where records, turntables, and streetwear were sold.

By the way, the word “gabber” itself, which eventually became the name of the genre and, coincidentally, the name of Liam’s track, allegedly originated as follows: In the early nineties, when hardcore parties were held, the club was open to the friends of the DJs and their friends only. To get in, they would say to the security guards at the entrance in Dutch slang, “I am a friend” or “Ik ben een gabber” Another legend suggests that in 1991, a famous Dutch producer organized parties where hardcore was played, and part of his surname included the combination “gabber”.

The Dutch club Parkzicht in Rotterdam, where the whole subculture originated.

It’s worth noting that the track, which pays tribute to the Dutch subculture, didn’t remain in The Prodigy’s setlist for very long by today’s standards. Having appeared in the middle of 1994, it dropped out of the live program by mid-1997, serving as the show’s closer for only three years. However, during this brief period, it became incredibly popular with many fans, standing alongside other hits. This popularity was likely due to two factors: firstly, the track was played during the peak of the band’s fame, and secondly, it was the last jam of the show. It was always preceded by people from the crowd dancing on stage to ‘No Good’, creating an epic atmosphere. In one of Mark Reynolds’ videos, you can see how, after these dances, Maxim invites the concert venue’s security staff on stage to join the fun during ‘Gabba’ — a quite amusing moment. We don’t know how often the band practiced this with the security guards.

A couple of years ago, we completely recreated this legendary track in studio quality, which marked the beginning of our project. This year, in honor of the tune’s 30th anniversary, we decided to polish it up a bit and created a better studio mix. Now, the track sounds as powerful as possible while still retaining its authentic feel. Check it out right now!

Headmasters: SIXSHOT
Additional thanks to: Split, Break-D, Faust.

OZON: 8950008190б

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