Underworld

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Underworld

1993 – What starts out as an underground buzz, born out of a handful of low key singles on Junior Boy’s Own and the band’s involvement with ultra cutting edge design company Tomato, ends up with momentum like a snowball down a hillside. Underworld play a series of low key gigs at clubs around the country, from techno-nutter mainstay the Orbit, progressive house headquarters The Drum Club and London’s crusty florescent ‘rave’ hangout Megadog. The singles “Mmm Skyscraper I Love You”, “Rez”, “Cowgirl”, “Spikee” and Bjork’s “Human Behaviour” and Simply Red’s “Thrill Me” remixes are released.

1994 – “Dubnobasswithmyheadman” is released, charts at number 11, and achieves Gold status within six months. They also release “Dark Train”, an insistent rumbling dancefloor classic that was so far ahead of its time it ended up getting hammered five years after it was made by trance DJs the world over. Released at the start of 1994, “Dubnobass” was described at the time as “the best album since ‘Screamadelica’ and the best debut album since ‘The Stone Roses.'” The record, a genre hopping journey into the heart of every style of dance music that mattered at the time, is a huge pulsing masterpiece that rapidly found itself the yardstick by which all other album-based dance acts were judged. As the band toured extensively, they cemented their reputation as the first truly great band playing live ‘dance music’.

1995 – The year of ‘Trainspotting,’ and second album, ‘Second Toughest In The Infants’. ‘Pearl’s Girl’ and ‘Born Slippy (Nuxx)’ released as singles. Reading Festival and Tribal Gathering headlined. “Second Toughest In The Infants” is released to massive critical acclaim, achieving gold status within a month of release. Even so, it wasn’t because of the album that the best-kept secret in British music went stellar. The B-side of 1995 single “Born Slippy” (“Nuxx”) was given prime position at the end of seminal Brit-smack film “Trainspotting”, written by Scottish literary genius Irvine Welsh. The success of the film forces a re-release of “Born Slippy”, which goes on to sell 700,000 copies over the summer. The band crown the year with headline appearances at Reading Festival, opposite a flailing Stone Roses, and Tribal Gathering, a huge late summer dance event.

1996 The year of . Second album, ‘Second Toughest In The Infants’. ‘Pearl’s Girl’ and ‘Born Slippy (Nuxx)’ released as singles. Reading Festival and Tribal Gathering headlined. “Second Toughest In The Infants” is released to massive critical acclaim, achieving gold status within a month of release. Even so, it wasn’t through the album that the best-kept secret in British music went stellar. The B-side of 1995 single “Born Slippy” (“Nuxx”) was given prime position at the end of seminal Brit-smack film “Trainspotting”, written by Scottish literary genius Irvine Welsh. The success of the film forces a re-release of “Born Slippy”, which goes on to sell 700,000 copies over the summer. The band crown the year with headline appearances at Reading Festival, opposite a flailing Stone Roses, and Tribal Gathering, a huge late summer dance event.

1997 – Two remixes of Depeche Mode’s ‘Barrel Of A Gun’. Release ‘Moaner’. The band spend the year in the studio, emerging once in remix form and once in Underworld form. In the summer, they kindly donate the firing rampaging techno animal “Moaner” to the soundtrack of the truly rotten ‘Batman and Robin’. The band relocate to Dublin to record with U2, a project that gets shelved when things don’t quite work out.

1998 – Return to active live duty with Glastonbury, V2000, short hops across Europe and America, with the rest of the year spent in the studio. Upon entering another year in the studio though, the band decide they want to play new material live before committing it to record. The gigs take in festivals in the UK (headlining the NME stage at Glastonbury and the second stage of V98), techno all-nighters in Holland and Belgium and the band’s biggest ever gigs in the States.

1999 – ‘Beaucoup Fish’, Homelands, Glastonbury, Fuji Rock in Japan, 30,000 Japanese kids fuelled on Heineken and adrenaline alone dancing in a field to the ever evolving thud of Underworld’s third album. “Beaucoup Fish” is released, again to global critical acclaim. The band play their first ever Australian gigs (Big Day Out) before touring the world extensively and returning to Glastonbury for a show stealing Saturday night performance in front of 40,000 or so people. Singles from “Beaucoup Fish” feature overhauls from a who’s who of the dance world’s biggest and most innovative names, including Fatboy Slim, Roger Sanchez, The Micronauts, Futureshock and Francois K. “Beaucoup Fish” goes on to sell close to a million copies world-wide.

2000 – Underworld’s long promised live project, “Everything Everything” finally emerges. Released on DVD, VHS and CD, the performances are culled from gigs across the world recorded over the previous eighteen months. After eight months of tireless mixing, the DVD is finished and described by those who seem to know as being “to DVD technology what ‘Sergeant Pepper’s’ was to stereo”. Taking in dozens of gigs around the world, from Fuji Rock in Japan to Glastonbury to the Coachella Festival in Palm Springs, “Everything Everything” stands as the closest anyone can get to the Underworld live experience short of standing with your head in the speakers in the middle of a field wherever the band have pulled up and played. Darren Emerson leaves Underworld to concentrate on DJing and raising a family. After ten years of recording and gigging with Rick and Karl, he leaves amicably and still lives in the same street as the Underworld studio. Rick Smith and Karl Hyde carry on as Underworld, playing a series of European festivals over the summer, business as usual…

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