This is the greatest hits of Underworld, Volume Two. Volume One was the considerably shorter 1992-2002 compilation released a decade earlier. The difference between the two? Now that time has passed, more tracks can be added to make a significantly larger collection of music for a greatest hits compilation by Underworld. This is just as collectable as the first, but for slightly different reasons. Let’s go over what we have here.
Bigmouth kicks off the compilation, with simple beats and melodies, and an awesome harmonica being played. It was on the previous compilation, and is a great listen, even today. It doesn’t sound at all dated, a sure sign of a great piece of music. Pacing beats and textures grab your mind and imagination, taking it elsewhere. It has a semi-Acid House feel to it, but is an entirely original and excellent composition, with a very progressive feel to it. It goes into a very psychedelic midsection with awesome melodies to melt your mind. This is the music of the future, ladies and gents. It’s a great mixture of all the electronic music to that time of the song’s creation. A great and epic piece to listen to. The harmonica returns towards the end, making this a great and fun listen. Quality tune, although it is 10 minutes long, but never boring.
Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You starts with howling wind samples, before some brilliant and electronic guitar parts capture your imagination. It’s a good listen that definitely requires headphones. With many precise and individual textures to boot, this is a true psychedelic electronic masterpiece. Everything about this track is marvelous. It just sounds really superb, with some artistic and well thought lyrics that are well delivered. It just goes to show that even EDM styles can be well thought out and super intelligent. Close your eyes and relax, it’s a great listen for all. Sheer brilliance in a smart tune. This track is a perfect introduction to the music of Underworld to people who may be interested in listening to it. It has a classical music feel to it as well. Towards the end, it goes into a more subtle and laidback section with some absolutely brilliant sound effects based on traditional rock instrumentation. Great effort by Underworld. The delayed sounds are amazing.
Next is the brilliant minimalism of Rez which starts off with some brilliant Acid processed guitar sounds, simple beats and imaginative sound exploration. It’s a very good and concise piece of musical beauty in a basic EDM format. The helicopter like drum sounds come in, before going into a fairly straightforward EDM piece. It is definitely a refreshing listen. It flows majestically into an interesting midsection which is designed for home DJ mixing with another famous Underworld track (you’ll recognise it if you are a keen listener). A relaxing and enjoyable home EDM listen, perfect to chill out to after that big party night out. More minimal melodies and sections emerge and re-emerge throughout the track. The tom-tom drums in the track are excellent. The various elements of the track move in and out of earshot, making this an essential listen.
Following is the awesome Cowgirl which is named after a sexual position. It’s not specifically about sex, but sounds fantastic from the word go. The lyrics are really trippy and very indecipherable. A high powered and fun listening experience, with some very good quality original melodies to listen to. It sounds very clever and interesting musically, with various original and creative sounds about it. It’s a more straightforward track compared to what has come before on this record, but is solid gold all the same. A very good and consistent effort here, although it is a little more pop than you’d expect from these guys. Towards the end, some more electronic based melodies wrap themselves around your ears and sink into your brain. Good tune indeed. It ends with some trippy computerised sounds that are cool.
Spikee comes next, with a discordant melody line in the intro, before surging into a fairly dark and punchy sounding track. It’s much more akin to Techno than other types of Electronic music out there that this could be modelled on. Still, is exciting and original. There are many stop/start sections here, making this a great listen. Perfect for the times out driving with friends at night, this is yet another solid and excellent listen. There are many great samples here, proof that these guys knew their craft very well. With some awesome lyrical samples, referring to dogs and other strange insights, it is dark and trippy. It goes quiet in sections, before each section progresses smoothly. Towards the end, a tape distorted electric guitar loop is there, giving this track an interesting twist. Great tune, once again. The outro is pretty nice, too.
Dirty Epic comes along next which has a clarinet sounding melody and some basic beats at the beginning. It’s a redone version of their classic tune Dirty which, for some strange reason, is missing from this compilation. It should be on it, but is not. This tune, however, is a lyrically interesting and melodically constructed listening experience. An excellent tune to hear, and rather low key in a musical sense. Weird lyrics, such as “here comes Christ on crutches!” is typical of Underworld and it does do some dirty talk. It has some strange melodies in the midsection occur, before the repeated line “I get my kicks on Channel Six” is repeated to the end. A very fast piano part joins in along with the typically surreal lyrics as well. Nice tune. Catchy, too. Underworld were obviously the future of music in the 1990s with tracks like these.
Up next is Dark And Long – Dark Train. Weird title aside, it is fairly dark and minimal techno based music that actually seems really good for a night drive. A keyboard choir sounding melody kicks in along with Roland based beats, and a moderate but not slow tempo. Eventually the melody line kicks in, a semi-spacey electronic melody that touches your heart. Other melodies join the listening experience, before more surreal impressionistic lyrics enter the piece. It’s a superb and unique listening experience, unlike any other out there. A head rush but a great one at that. There are some wacky cut up vocals in the midsection which make zero sense, along with some additional cyber electronic noises. More textures and beats arrive, continuing a hypnotic listen. Some basic sounds from the basis of the track then are gradually phased out in the outro. Great effort.
The biggest hit of Underworld’s career is Born Slippy (Nuxx) which begins with ethereal melodies and pitch shifted percussive sounds, before the lyrics singing about love and passion enter the scene. The hi-hats enter, and once the pounding kick drum enters, we are in dance heaven. The tune itself has some pretty odd meaning behind it, but it’s perfect to go crazy and dance to. It still sounds as fresh and timeless as it did when released in 1996. “Shouting, lager! Lager! Lager!” is a strange ode to alcoholic hedonism in the lyrics. The second half has a load of interesting percussion in it, and although it’s not the full version on this record, it’s a good listen. Great piece of music here. The outro is sudden.
Pearl’s Girl starts off with some surreal underwater noises and a melody that fits perfectly with it. Soon some other cleverly placed melodies come in, before the pounding beats and Acid textures come in. It’s the closest Underworld came to Drum and Bass music, with what sounds like an adapted Amen break for this tune. It’s a good intro to yet another classic by Underworld. When the singing enters, one can hear lyrics about colours, water and Albert Einstein. Very interesting. It’s highly repetitive a piece of music, but completely enjoyable. It seems more song-like in orientation than previous Underworld tracks released. It sounds like a load of LSD or similar hallucinogens were taken in the making of this great track. The word crazy is sampled and looped very cleverly here. The outro is a beat frenzy which shows the Drum and Bass/IDM nature of the beats and melodies, following by beautiful and surreal textures. Tune.
Jumbo begins with some simple melodies and some sampled speech of USA blokes talking in a nature setting. Eventually, a dirty Acid riff kicks in. It is irresistibly gorgeous, and more pretty than most Underworld tracks out there. Some synth style melodies then enter, and we are transported above and beyond this world itself. Perhaps these guys knew of DMT? Regardless, whether or not they were on drugs, this is a soothing and relaxing listen for Underworld. The only issue with this track is, despite the awesome sounds, it drags on somewhat. Still, a nice musical journey regardless. It just maybe could have been edited a little bit for length’s sake, but it is a beautiful listen.
The rarity 8 Ball has some excellently processed guitar parts and a bunch of simple melodies to boot. It’s not EDM really at all, nor is it out there Rock music. It’s super simple, yet has some great instrumentation about it. What sounds like a muted horn part flutters in and out of the mix, which is definitely unusual. It has some unusually penned lyrics as well. It goes into just the bassline playing along, before it reaches a brilliant climax of electric guitar parts. Nice to hear. It was originally only on the soundtrack and film The Beach, so we are lucky to listen to this here. A nice listen all the way through.
Next up is Moaner which begins with a minimal sort of Techno feel about it, with some excellently programmed Acid melodies and a keen sense of sonic exploration here. It sounds rather minor key and urgent as well. It gradually builds up into a mammoth sounding club piece which is very good for dancing. After a while, it sounds pretty awful when the main melody kicks in during the crescendo. Still, it’s an interesting and good listen, but lacks a decent musical enjoyment about it. Sadly, this piece is definitely not that good to listen to. It comes across as irritating, which is not good. The second section is somewhat better, but goes on for far too long. In short, this track would have been better scrapped than be on this compilation at all. Disappointing.
Two Months Off is a much better track, starting off with some better melodies and some strangely sampled nonsense talk from a British lady. It then gradually has some brilliantly awesome ethereal melodies seep into your sonic consciousness, before reaching a blissful awakening in a musical sense. It’s definitely anthemic, and a thoroughly refreshing listen. The whole thing sums up brilliantly what Underworld are in a musical sense. The chanted, “You bring light in,” is awesome too. In other words, it is a great listen and just fantastic. A great effort from Underworld. It has diverting sections throughout, and is a really good listen all the way through. It goes into a great melody in the bridge section, before re-emerging into the light. Great stuff. A passionate and energetic listening experience. Unforgettable track. The bells at the end are nice.
To Heal comes next. It’s a soothing and relaxing listen from the start, with some meditation sounding melodies about it. No beats here, just a sonic rush that sounds very nice and amazing. A good piece of music, and surprisingly short for an Underworld track. Calming.
Up next is Crocodile which has a beautiful array of delayed textures at the beginning of the track, before some meaty beats kick in. A digitised melody then comes next, suggestive of the Crocodile itself. It’s a good piece from the second half of Underworld’s career. The singing is very well suited to this track as well. An interesting and awesome listen, it sounds very New Order-ish. There are muted guitar parts here as well. Not a bad track, although it does seem a little lacking of the magic of the earlier Underworld material. Still, it is listenable. The ending is great.
Following is Scribble which begins with a brilliant set of head rush sounds that are out of this world. It’s a great listen, and the singing on it evokes a pure emotion that is expressive. It then breaks into a Dubstep style beat, which is fantastic. It’s a far out listen, so strap on your headphones and listen to this pure slice of glory. It’s a more modern EDM piece for sure. An energizing and interesting listen, it is a solid listen. It goes into a quiet midsection with some random voice samples, before launching straight back into Underworld glory with the banging beats returning. The outro is very trippy.
The Hump starts off with some great percussion and noises. It’s a great intro to yet another great track on this album. A bumping bassline then arrives, along with some other mind-melting sounds. It’s an energetic listen, and well thought out. One of the better pieces from Underworld’s second half of their career, it demands repeat listens. There is a touch of piano in it as well, with a load of processed effects on it. Some awesome drums and percussion are in this track as well. It’s a total head rush to listen to. This is excellent listening. There is some awesome bass guitar here as well, very funky. The various elements of the track move in and out of our ears, this is definitely a fantastic listen. Awesome from start to finish, the ending has some great piano playing in it, it fades out into oblivion.
The Big Meat Show comes next, beginning with some unusual textures, before launching into an excellent Underworld style groove and dance based piece. There is some really awesome electronic treatment, particularly on the drums and percussion here. It’s a great, great listen. It’s an excellent tune to hear, with some quirky sounds and lyrics about sexual exploits, which are interesting. It shows that Underworld have made many excellent tunes over the years. An interesting and unique listen all the way through. With references to “Channel 69”, fast food and said show itself, it is a fairly quirky lyrical adventure here.
Next is Minneapolis which begins with some reversed drum beats that eventually are normalised, sounding like they are directly lifted from The Chemical Brothers. The track eventually evolves into a quirky sort of jam here. It’s a great listen, like many of the tracks on this compilation. It’s a straightforward, funky and brilliant sounding EDM piece. No doubt a lot of effort has gone into a track like this, you can hear the energy, heart and soul being poured into this piece. There is some funky sounding wah-wah guitar in the depths of this track here as well. It goes into a quiet midsection with some simple melodies and some great sampled drumbeats, before leading back into the main section of the track. Simple, yet great listening. The ending is interesting listening as well.
Following is Why Why Why which begins with a simple string melody and unusual vocal samples, before a harp like melody enters the scene. It gradually builds up to a danceable set of beats, which propel this track along. A quick transition into another set of melodies occurs, which continues to deliver a decent set of musical listening, that is, if you like EDM. The whole track is consistent, energetic and brilliant. This is a clear example of why Underworld are still popular today. A great listen itself of a great piece of energetic and danceable genius. It is rather lengthy, at 12 minutes, but still is a good listen all the same. It has a smooth fade out.
Next is Oich Oich which begins with some psychedelic wind chimes, before some trippy vocals enter the scene. Some basic Roland TR beats then enter, which are precision perfect. It’s another great tune on this compilation, and demands listening. A refreshing and interesting listen, this is so well done. The lyrics sung here are nonsensical, but that is entirely the purpose of such a thing. There are some heavily treated guitar parts here as well. A great and inspired listening experience. It goes into a quieter section towards the end, which sounds different. All in all, a masterful work.
Second Hand comes next, beginning with what sounds like processed electric guitar riffs. A sweet intro, with other elements gradually gliding into your sonic consciousness, emerges. Some Theremin style sound effects mixed with unusual beats then arrive. More textures enter the track, slowly and steadily. It’s not really a straightforward EDM tune this one, more an epic sonic journey through the universe of sound. There is little sense of percussion here in the first half, so strap on your headphones at home and relax, listening carefully to the textures here. The second half does have some beats, but not anything to drench the textures here. All in all, a good listen here, once again. It is a pleasant listen from start to finish.
Parc – Live is a short and sweet listen from Underworld, with a great semi-organ sounding riff and some prominent beats here. Some introspective vocals are here, before some interesting electric guitar parts come along. This isn’t bad, if it were as lengthy as a usual track, it wouldn’t work as well. A nice and refreshing listen from Underworld’s lengthy career, as is the majority of this compilation. It ends before you know it.
Next is Simple Peal which has a sort of delayed clock bell at the beginning of the track, which slowly becomes louder. Some subdued bass (guitar) enters gradually, with the rest of the track being very laidback. This shows a different side to Underworld compared to the earlier EDM hits of their career. It’s very Ambient sounding. There is some background chatter as well, although not really anything audible here. A good listen though. It has a ghostly ending.
Last is Jal To Tokyo which starts off with a simple Acid melody, before banging beats arrive in the mix. There are some electronic semi-vocoder vocals next, showing the impressive diversity and knowledge of musical greatness that is Underworld. A very good piece to end this very long compilation. Very interesting listening. It’s a good danceable piece as well.
This is an essential must-have for any Underworld fan and anyone interested in EDM. The only downside is that a couple of tracks could have been removed for a less lengthy listen. The album itself is over three and a half hours long, so some tracks can be skipped here. But regardless, it is a very very good listen overall.