The Back To Mine series plays on a concept dear to just about anyone who is obsessive about music. Take one famous pop star, give them a blank CD-R and tell them to fill it with the kind of music you might expect to hear if you had back to their place after a heavy night on the town.
Making compilations for other people is one of the joys of being a music fan, because it allows you to pass on your beloved records to others. It’s a pretty personal affair all told. After all, who hasn’t spent hours in their bedrooms with boxes of seven-inch singles and a C-90 cassette trying to garner the affections of someone that you fancy (but can’t bring yourself to tell) by creating a compilation full of obscure Fall b-sides and Smiths covers?
Liam Howlett of The Prodigy has obviously enjoyed himself sticking these 16 tracks together because, with the odd exception this is a charged up party selection. Kicking off with an exclusive Prodigy track (Wake the Fuck Up) this compilation grabs you quickly by the scruff of the neck and initially, does little to let up.
Liam’s parties are obviously not entirely chilled out affairs. In fact many of the tracks here delve into what could be classed as punk territory: The Jam (In the City), The Specials (A Message to You Rudy), The Stranglers (Peaches) and a brilliant blast of Sham 69 punk in the shape of Vatican DC‘s Smiling Dogs all get a look in. Queens Of The Stone Age‘s charged paean to drug overload Feel Good Hit of The Summer also makes a welcome early appearance, although it does leave you with a pang of regret that Nick Oliveri and Josh Homme aren’t together making tunes this reckless anymore.
Of course the rave scene, which threw The Prodigy into the limelight, was a punk movement of sorts, and these early days are remembered with the inclusion of Max Romeo’s I Chase The Devil, which supplied the sample for early Prodge hit Out Of Space.
As the CD progresses things calm down a little (which, in party terms is probably when Liam heads to the kitchen to start making cheese on toast for everyone) and Dolly Parton makes an appearance with her classic Jolene. It’s an odd choice, but it works perfectly. Liam follows this up by making yet another nod to one of the key punk figures with Pil‘s Rise, a perfect piece of comedown music, and an utter classic in anyone’s language.
It’s only the inclusion of Method Man (a Prodigy remix no less) that really feels out of place. But that’s the fun of compilations, there’s always a few stinkers thrown in somewhere along the line.
Liam’s Back To Mine not only shows what an influence the punk scene was on the Prodigy, but also that he certainly knows how to throw a party. There’s little in the way of wilful obscurity here: in fact if you don’t own at least half of these tracks already you should probably stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done. As a party album, you can’t go far wrong, (almost) every one’s a winner.