FAT25 · 5th track: Serial Thrilla · MTV
Today, as part of a series of posts dedicated to the 25th anniversary of The Fat Of The Land, we will talk about the Serial Thrilla — its versions, official video, single rumors & other stuff. But as it turned out, there is not much information about this track. Nevertheless, we tried to collect everything we found…
It’s worth starting with the fact that the track takes its beginning from live performances at the end of 1996. The simple jam-track Bounce appeared at those times, and later it was used as the basis for Serial Thrilla. The premiere of this early demo took place on October 11th, 1996, in Brixton. More correct to say, that even two premieres took place on this day — along with ‘Bounce’, ‘Fuel My Fire’ was also presented (we wrote about it earlier).
Review from Brixton ’96 gig in ‘The Sky’ magazine: Thus far, it’s only a provisionally titled, unfinished, crunchophonic ‘Test Tune’. Keith alights the stairways to the platform level above and gives it large, as a man would who once said, “When I’m on stage, my body screams. If I could burst into flames, I would.”
It is also worth noting that this jam-track, like many others, was simply called Beats in the band’s live setlists, and the title ‘Bounce’ was registered in the license catalogs just before the ‘Breathe’ tour, at the same time as all the tracks from the ‘Breathe’ single were registered.
Live setlist from late 1996 w/ ‘Beats’
By the way, this demo is better known as Lyrical Terrorist or Bring It Back among the fans. Just because the bootleggers from the 90s didn’t know the real titles of the live tunes, they simply used different made-up titles according to Maxim’s random lyrics. Also, this jam is often called the Serial Thrilla (Beta Version), but we think it’s more correct to call it the Alpha version: ‘beta’ titles are usually used for the pre-final versions, but in this case, we can definitely say that this track was way too far from the pre-final version, it was just the early sketch.
We are working on the reconstruction of that version – it will be published on our relaunched Patreon in december.
The track was performed in this particular demo version until May 1997, and the final mix of the ‘Serial Thrilla’ was finished just a few weeks before the album release. It was the last song finished for the album, and that’s why it was not presented at the pre-release private party where the album was premiered for the music journalists.
The final track contains Skunk Anansie’s ‘Selling Jesus’ sample. According to rumors, the idea of sampling the Skunk Anansie’s tune came to Liam during the recording sessions with Skin (their collab called ‘Take Me On’ recorded specially for ‘The Fat Of The Land’ still remains unreleased).
- Sample: guitar & drums
- Sample source: Skunk Anansie – Selling Jesus [Paranoid & Sunburnt, 1995]
- Note: The sample source is listed in the booklet of ‘The Fat Of The Land’: Track 5 ‘Selling Jesus’ by Skunk Anansie used courtesy of One Little Indian except USA courtesy of Sony Music Inc.
There was also information that some of the guitar riffs for the track were recorded by Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. Unfortunately, this fact is quite difficult to confirm since Tom only mentioned that Liam just requested guitars for ‘Serial Thrilla’, but he didn’t have time for recording back then. As a result, he recorded guitars only while working on One Man Army. We will recheck this info later.
MTV News: Morello told Britain’s New Musical Express magazine that he first got a call from The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett out of the blue with a request to add guitar to ‘Serial Thrilla’, a song from The Prodigy’s new album, ‘The Fat Of The Land’. However, with opening for U2, Rage’s inclusion on a new Snoop Doggy Dogg EP and the planning of a summer tour with Wu-Tang Clan, they had no time.
By the way, we also managed to get our hands on a rough mix of ‘Serial Thrilla’ without a synth in the intro/outro, otherwise, the track is no different from the album version. We believe that this is a pre-album final mix, in which Liam later added a synth to the intro and outro to mix ‘Thrilla’ with the previous and the next track in the album.
After the album’s release, there were a couple of rumors that ‘Serial Thrilla’ could become the next single. Liam himself spoke nothing about it.
Liam Howlett: It’s kind of a new wave rock’n’roll. Keith said to me: “I wanna be on that stage, and I wanna be singing «Taste me!», and I want the people to look at this dripping fucking mess on the stage, and be thinking: «What the fuck?»”. That’s Keith, that’s what he’s like!
Of course, the track did not become a single, but it was chosen as the first live music video to promote the album gigs! After the final editing of the band’s gig in Brixton ’97, the live performance of ‘Serial Thrilla’ was broadcasted on TV in 1998 and 1999 for promoting ‘The Fat Of The Land’ live tour. The TV edit of the video differs from the one that was released on DVD in 2005 quite a bit, as the editors cut out the introductory explicit lyrics, which Keith regularly shouted live.
The clip was occasionally shown on MTV, but usually, it appeared on air just before the band’s gigs in various countries. For example, Russian MTV began to show this music video only in 1999, a few months before St. Petersburg gig on 17 April.
This periodic TV broadcasting gave rise to new rumors: once again, the fans thought that ‘Serial Thrilla’ will be released as a single. Everything would have calmed down by itself, but toward the
The next one on the way is ‘Funky Shit’! Stay tuned and keep following us on social media!
Additional thanks to: Split, Juge L @theprodigy.info