Review : Underworld - A Collection / 1992-2012: The Anthology
PopmattersNot everybody is around for 20 years or more, and not everybody who makes it that far deserves much of a commemoration. But questions of longevity aside (and continued productivity—2010’s Barking continued Underworld’s strong third act, and between soundtrack work and being the musical directors for the London Olympics, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith show no signs of slowing down), Underworld are justly a big deal. For years they’ve made excellent, emotionally clued-in, endlessly pleasurable techno, and in a lot of ways their blurring of the lines between techno and rock, dance music and emotional/psychological/observational narratives, home listening and club listening, make them the forerunners of a lot of what’s currently interesting and popular in dance music.
So when a band as active and prominent as seminal techno trio-then-duo Underworld puts out some sort of career-spanning (well, mostly) compilation, there are two opposite questions that mostly apply to two opposite audiences: what is there (for newcomers) and what isn’t (for longtime fans). Newcomers might know a song or two (cough"Born Slippy"cough), and given that even these days the compilation might be (at least at first) their primary exposure to a band, you want to make sure you hit all of the major moments and highlights. Sure, there will be, or at least should be, gems to find when you go to the rest of the work, but a good starter compilation should give you an idea of where a band has been and why they are loved. For the hardcore, though, having all of the hits might be nice, convenient, or even interesting, but they already have most of what you want to play for a newcomer. And we all have our little personal favourites, so the question is what got left off? What can’t we imagine the compilation without?
It’s maybe an attempt to address both questions that lead Hyde and Smith (operating alone since Darren Emerson, who they brought on board when Underworld slimmed down from a little-missed five-piece band to its current electronic incarnation, left in 2001) to release two very different compilations. I almost said for the band’s 20th anniversary, but that’s a little misleading, because on the one hand, Underworld started releasing albums in 1988 if you count the rock-band days, and the first single from their first album as what we know as Underworld wasn’t out until 1993. But for their last career-spanning compilation, they chose 1992 as the first year, so going with it here makes sense....full text
TelegraphWith less than 200 days to go, we have a good idea what the Olympic Games will look like – but what will they sound like? On July 27, east London could be shaking to pounding dance music, the 80,000 crowd shouting “lager, lager, lager”. Or so you might imagine, given that electronic duo Underworld have been anointed as Danny Boyle’s musical directors for the opening ceremony.
On paper this seems like jobs for the boys, the film-maker’s relationship with the band going back to his own breakthrough in 1996, when their song Born Slippy became the de-facto theme tune of Trainspotting. Since then, they have worked regularly with Boyle. But while the group no longer make the charts, the release of two compilations this month is a reminder of both the extent and variety of their music and why they could turn out to be perfect Olympic heroes....full text
TestedonkidsIts always sad when you realize that old musical hero's should hang up their "boots", and just quit. This has just happened for me with Underworld! Late in 2010 they released an album called "Barking" and it went pass me with out sticking, it was just not as good as the previous stuff. Underworld used to be kings! I even liked them (just) a bit better than Leftfield, and I love Leftfield...
The safest sign of an artist that should retire is when him/them give out a Best of... compilation. On 4th of December Underworld is releasing (digitally, CD in January 2012) not one, but TWO compilations to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the music business. "A Collection" is a single disc set which features edited highlights for those who prefer things short, sweet and to the point. While "The Anthology 1992 - 2012" is a refreshed version of the 1992-2002 anthology and is a 3-disc set, including a disc with unreleased/rare material (tracklists after the jump)....full text
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