Their Law ’05: short story & design
Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005 is The Prodigy’s singles collection released on 17 October 2005. It was the first official compilation of this kind in the band’s career, despite the hundreds of pirate “The Best Of” releases that were going around at the end of the 90s & the beginning of the 00s — of course, you still do own some of them, don’t you?
You all remember that the deluxe version of the package contained 2 CDs (the hits on the first one and the rare stuff on the second) and the DVD: there you could catch practically all of the band’s videos, some exclusive live recordings, a bit of valuable stupid footage (do you recognize the quote?) and the fantastic Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned Demo Mix video art as a hidden gift. The video was created by magnificent Jimmy Turrel during the Baby’s Got A Temper times and was one of the dozens of drafts created for the album promotion: “I actually did a whole album campaign for The Prodigy which then got killed right at the final hurdle. The whole process went on for a year and a half” — he recalled while being interviewed by itsnicethat.com.
The mix contained some extra rare beats, such as Gun Reprise, demo version of Memphis Bells, and an unknown unreleased demo that was never heard before. It’s also known that Liam Howlett wanted to put on No Souvenirs there, but changed his mind at the last minute…
A few know that the compilation was certainly not done to please the fans: the only reason for the release of this compilation was solely the initiative of the then-label of the band, XL Recordings. Liam remembered this during the interview with Neko in Copenhagen (19th October 2005) — by the way, that’s a really (for sure!) interesting conversation right after Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005 was released. We highly recommend reading this one!
Liam Howlett: The thing is with the record company, album number five was always going to be the Greatest Hits, I don’t want to call it a fucking Greatest Hits though. It was in my contract from 1992, you know! In 1992 we were just like “Haha, Greatest Hits, what a bunch of cunts, we’re never going to go that far!”. As soon as Always Outnumbered was done, the record company were like “ok, so next year should be this package”. I was like “fucks sake, that’s shit, I just want to do another album!” — and they were like “no no no, it’s a good time to do it, it’s a good summary of what you’ve done”.
So I gradually grew to the idea that it might be cool if we can be creative with it. Me being selfish as well, I wanted to hold a record in my hand that had all my best work on. It was up to us to pull together something we were happy with. But when it came to it, there was no way I was gonna pull in some of the new tracks, some of the new ideas we’ve got that were developing, just to stick them on there. They r too good just for bonus shit. It was always about the past, about what we’d done before.
As a compilation promo campaign, a video was released for Voodoo People (Pendulum Remix) — it’s still one of the most popular tracks of the band (damn, for real?)
The music clip was filmed at Romford Market (territory of a large open market in London): according to the plot of the video, several people participate in a “blind race”. Their task is to run with blindfolds and hands, and the main goal is to come running first. The Prodigy members (Liam, Keith & Maxim) starred in the music video as observers. The only person who made it to the end was Sharkey, a former member of the band who left shortly after forming. The clip was directed by Ron Scalpello and premiered on July 2, 2005. The plot of the video was borrowed from the 2001 Spanish thriller Intacto.
Neko: Last question about the video. Whats in the bag?
LH: [laughs then silence] It’s a 12 inch dildo, that’s why Sharkey looks very happy!
The Pendulum remix with a few bonuses was released in September 2005 in various formats including CD, vinyl & digital form. Wonder, Audio Bullys & Sub Focus also came up with their remixes for Voodoo People, Out Of Space & Smack My Bitch Up respectively.
Some interesting facts: Their Law should have contained at least two more rare tracks, but for some reason the release never took place. The first one should be DJ Zinc’s remix for Charly. The information about it even slipped on some promo websites close to the release date, but the drop was cancelled at the last minute.
The second one should be the remix for No Good from the unknown producer: Liam told this to Neko in the same interview we mentioned before.
LH: Well, there’s lots of remixes around, but I don’t know whether they are gonna come out. We obviously had Voodoo People from Pendulum, Out Of Space, we had Smack from Subfocus, the drum’n’bass thing. There was a No Good mix and another Voodoo People mix, the Wonder kind, did you hear the Wonder kind mix?
All in all, there’s about seven remixes floating around, some of which we didn’t use. The thing with this record is, we didn’t kind of want to do the usual thing, and release a token new track, and put it out as a single, — everyone does that. For me, it was about the past, it wasn’t about selling it off the back of that. There won’t be any more singles off that record. People must be happy we’re back in the studio recording brand new material, new shit.
Their Law: The Singles 1990–2005 release itself with all the bonuses, remixes, and rare stuff is really cool, but the design for this compilation and its promo campaign is another story: that was a really fabulous piece and deserves a separate posting. At first, we can only guess what the inspiration source for the front cover art was. An initial idea came from metal police badges look, but perhaps the concept was taken from the sleeve of The Police’s I Can’t Stand Losing You (Live), — or from any other release that used the same concept.
Several people were involved in the process. Philip Laslett, a London-based graphic designer who works for Beggars Group, created the original illustration — the two metal badges (the gold and the silver one) were machine tooled from his illustration files. The eagle on the top of the badge was probably inspired by Civil War recruiting posters (1861-1865). Bembo typeface was used on the cover and on the inside sleeves.
Etched and in-filled metal badges were manufactured by Berry Place (London, UK). Finally, the badges were photographed by Dominic Davies — he also shot some photos for Their Law inside sleeve. Phil Lee and Liam Howlett were responsible for art direction.
Alex Lloyd Jenkins, who worked as the Art Director at XL Recordings from 1995 until 2000, remembers: «Phil Lee is my school friend from the Rhondda, he came in for two weeks to cover me during holiday after The Fat Of The Land was released. He ended up being employed full time at Beggars and then took over my role at XL when I left».
Dominic Davies continues the story and recalls a little background behind the shooting while chatting with one of theprodi.gy creators: «The images of the band were shot in Amsterdam where I was living at the time. Phil Lee sent me band stills and copies of flyers & stuff. The idea was that I reshoot them in a sinister environment as if collected by an obsessive fan! I think the film ‘7’ was mentioned in our conversations. Images of the band were projected onto sheets of glass and textured surfaces».
Back in 2013 Rahul Singh, The Prodigy stage photographer and a good friend of the band, posted the authentic metallic Their Law badge on his Instagram. He recalls: «Completely forgot I snapped that badge. It’s the original and one of a kind, framed and resides near Phil Lee’s desk. Hey Liam, I believe the silver one is at your gaffe, right?»
As some of you may remember, the merchandise with the front band logo was also sent in stores — for example, the series of this eagle belt buckles were sold towards the end of the 2010s.
Also just a few months ago we found another quite rare item: a small pendant with the badge from the cover! Unfortunately, it’s still unconfirmed whether it’s official or not, but the thing looks extremely cool anyway.
Additional thanks to: Dominic Davies, Alex Lloyd Jenkins, Rahul Singh, Sergey Burdey