‘Wind It Up’ Single • 30th Anniversary
Exactly 30 years ago, on April 5th, 1993, The Prodigy released a single Wind It Up, which was the 5th one from their debut album Experience. Even though Liam didn’t really want to release it and its production turned out to be difficult, the single ended up being well received by the public and fans. But first, let’s take a closer look at the background of the single and its production.
In March 1993, The Prodigy’s record label XL Recordings decided to release another single from their debut album, despite Liam struggling to find time to work on new material due to the band’s busy touring schedule. Liam’s lack of access to studio time, combined with pressure from the record company, led to the release of ‘Wind It Up’. The track continued the band’s focus on breakbeats, which was a source of frustration for Liam, who felt that it was too similar to their previous breakbeat hardcore tracks. The single also attempted to replicate the success of their previous hit single, ‘Out Of Space’, which mixed breakbeat hardcore with popular reggae lyrics.
- Sample: vocals (‘equal rights and justice in this time’ & ‘ooh-ooo-aah’) & instrumental
- Sample source: Anthony Johnson – Equal Rights [Don Carlos with Anthony Johnson & Little John – Rasta Brothers, 1985]
This kind of sound, in general, was starting to become obsolete by then. Liam also was concerned that releasing a fifth single from the same album instead of new material was a “rip-off” for their fans, as it was a tactic often used by pop stars to maximize profits. Nevertheless, the single was well received by the public and received good reviews.
The music video for ‘Wind It Up’ was shot during the band’s American tour and included footage of the band in various locations in and around Los Angeles, including Venice Beach and Death Valley. Keith had a lot of ideas for the video and suggested standing on a wave breaker on Venice Beach to be filmed as waves crashed around him. While filming, a huge wave engulfed Keith, causing him to almost drown, this take ended up in the final cut of the video. Liam didn’t like the video either. Not only was it similar in concept to that of ‘Everybody In The Place’, but it also made it seem as if the band hadn’t developed and was stuck in the same image. Additionally, it reminded Liam of the ill-fated US tour.
An interesting fact is that even before the release of the single at the end of ’92, the band was selling their trademark merchandise during the tour. The design used for the t-shirts was the art of the analog volume indicator, aka VU-meter, with the inscription “Coming In Low”. The print was designed by a now-defunct company called Imagine Transfers.
Later, the merchandise design served as the idea base for ‘Wind It Up’ cover. But that’s where all the single design ideas ended. The cover turned out to be rather plain, unlike the ones on the previous singles. Apart from the front side, there was no more pictures or arts, and on the back side, there was only the tracklist and other text information on a black background.
Like the previous singles, including the album itself, ‘Wind It Up’ was no exception and was also released in the USA on the Elektra label. Similarly to the US edition of ‘Out Of Space’, exclusive remixes were made by famous American producers for the US version of the single. This time, them were Tony Garcia and Guido Osorio who added as many as four remixes to the release. However, as was the case with previous US release, these remixes were hardly satisfactory when compared to Liam’s remixes, let alone the main ‘Rewound’ mix.
The single version of the track – Rewound was written, according to Liam, almost a year before its release. Judging by the promo cassette of ’92, the name of the version was originally Rumble Bass Mix. But during the preparation of the single, the name of the version was conceptually changed.
Once again, by tradition of almost all the singles from the ‘Experience’ album, the title tune was a remix of the track, not its original (only ‘Out Of Space’ was an exception). The single also included an exclusive B-side, a hard and fast breakbeat hardcore track called We Are The Ruffest (how we miss those times). Some fans consider that this B-side outdoes even the title track, and appreciate this release only because of this banger. Another interesting fact about this track is that on the editions of the single by Torso and Intercord, there was a Rough Mix of ‘We Are The Ruffest’ – an earlier version that does not have the loop from ‘N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton’ in the beat. Whether this was done by mistake or for any other reason is unknown.
- Sample: beat #2
- Sample source: N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton [Straight Outta Compton, 1988]
- Note: This beat is present in the versions released by XL Recordings (UK) and Elektra (US), but is missing in the ones released by Torso Records (Netherlands) and Intercord (Germany).
As befits a band that has always emphasized live performances, the guys continued their busy tour after the release. And apart from the updated version of ‘Wind It Up’ with ‘We Are The Ruffest’, the band also presented another new track – Funky & Raw, which had never been released in studio quality but became a regular feature at live shows with the release of the ‘Wind It Up’ single.
*more about the unreleased live tracks from ’93 in our recent article – https://theprodi.gy/1993livebeats/
In our opinion, this track is not inferior in its sound to ‘We Are The Ruffest’ and could have been a good B-side. But by all appearances, at the time of the single’s release, the choice was made in favor of ‘We Are The Ruffest’ and later, closer to the next single’s release, it simply became irrelevant by its sound.
Our team, just as usual, have approached the matter with responsibility and recreated the track Funky & Raw.
Due to Liam’s dissatisfaction with the single and his obsession with getting away from the old sound, all those ‘Wind It Up’ single-related tracks disappeared from the band’s show pretty quickly. And afterwards, with the release of the ‘One Love’ single, they disappeared altogether irrevocably. As Howlett himself said in an interview for Martin Roach describing this transitional period:
That whole EP (One Love) was a strong sign that we wanted to do things differently. The old style was wearing very thin by now and we were very lucky to get away with ‘Wind It Up’. After my uneasiness with that previous single, I realised that the band had to progress and evolve, that I had to get back to the music and move forward.
Moreover, dissatisfaction with the single subsequently translated into ‘Wind It Up’ being the only single-track not included to the ‘Their Law’ – singles 15th anniversary compilation, if don’t count the two EPs: WEL and BGAT. It should be noted that the b-side ‘We Are The Ruffest’ was included, which once again confirms the thoughts we mentioned above about the B-side on the single being better than the title track. Liam didn’t comment on the lack of the single on the compilation, but in an interview for Neko, he said the following:
Neko: Talking about historic values, and thinking back your career and also the last few years, anything you would have done differently now?
LH: Nothing. Not one thing. Well maybe the green and white costumes at the beginning . [quiet] what the fuck was I thinking.
Neko: I saw you on some MTV show the other day commenting on the wind it up video
LH: Yeah that period, I didnt want to release Wind it Up, I felt like Michael Jackson, who just caned his album and released every fucking single off that, I didnt really want to release any more singles, I didnt want to release Wind it up, but the record company was like yeah, we should do it. So that was it for me, wind it up period I hated the video I liked the track, but I hated the idea of releasing it as a single, you know what I mean, I was over that, I was over the rave period.
Wind it up was recorded probably a year before it came out, so for me it was like releasing an old track. Actually when the video was shot in LA, that was when I first heard Rage Against the Machines first album and as soon as I heard that it blew my mind. And I went back to London to the studio, with that in my head, fresh, and recorded Their Law and Poison. They were the first tracks that kind of inspired that anger and that new sound that came out.
Generally speaking, after ’93, the single and the track have been forgotten. The only exception was its only live performance in Manchester in 2009. Especially for the gig, Liam slightly updated the sound of the track. There are no decent recordings of that one performance; only fragments can be found in pretty bad quality on the web. Even the official promo video from Dugdale for the Prodigy channel used an overclipping audience recording.
Nevertheless, we have mixed together all the available recordings online of this version of the track.
When did you start to tire of the dance scene?
LH: I remember standing onstage in Scotland thinking, ‘I’m not into this anymore.’ Rave had lost its rawness and potency and I didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. Around the same time we went to Los Angeles to do a video for Wind It Up, the last [single] on [1992 debut album] Experience, and the Rage Against The Machine album had come out, and The Chronic by Dr. Dre, and we spent the whole time listening to those albums. I came back a different person and wanted to bring that energy to our music. That’s when I started writing …Jilted. Almost every track rebelled against the dance scene.
Additional thanks to: Canyon Hill, Split, Martin Roach
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