"Dubnobasswithmyheadman (Super Deluxe) [20th Anniversary Remaster]" by Underworld on iTunes

41 Songs


This ambitious 1994 album will leave you in a sweating, swirling, ecstatic trance. Bringing on DJ Darren Emerson was a brilliant move by Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, whose rock inclinations get completely submerged in endless textures of ambient echoes, throbbing bass, buzzing synths, and scattered breakbeats. Hyde's dark, monotone moan—often multi-tracked—snakes its way through beats that drive relentlessly forward. Propulsive, yet fluid and melodic, this is dance music that both electronic heads and indie rockers can agree on.


This ambitious 1994 album will leave you in a sweating, swirling, ecstatic trance. Bringing on DJ Darren Emerson was a brilliant move by Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, whose rock inclinations get completely submerged in endless textures of ambient echoes, throbbing bass, buzzing synths, and scattered breakbeats. Hyde's dark, monotone moan—often multi-tracked—snakes its way through beats that drive relentlessly forward. Propulsive, yet fluid and melodic, this is dance music that both electronic heads and indie rockers can agree on.

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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

14 Ratings

Bladerunner on the dance floor


Arguably the best dance album ever! You'll move, you'll dream; it will inspire. Buy it, put on headphones and take this journey.

The greatest techno album of all time...


“Thunder, thunder, lightning ahead, hummm. Will you kiss me dark and long?”

So whispers Karl Hyde at the beginning of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld‘s loopily titled audio odyssey and breakout techno album of 1994. Prior to its release no one had heard anything like it, with its blend of sawing analog synths and surreal cut-up poetry, its rush of futuristic rock and breakbeat rhythms. By the time it soaked into DJ sets and the listening press, Underworld were underground superstars.

Formed by Hyde and Rick Smith, old mates from Cardiff Art College in Wales, Underworld had already made a run at musical success in the 1980s. Originally as the band Freur, they penned the new wave gem ‘Doot Doot.’ They even toured with the Eurythmics as an industrial funk outfit. But with each turn they found themselves with little money and diminishing prospects.

In between their commercial ups and downs, Hyde cut out a wayward living as a session guitarist, first at Prince’s Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis. When he moved to New York City to tour with Blondie’s Debbie Harry, he began to scissor the Village Voice newspaper and rearrange his own phrases into lyrics. On a parallel track back in England, Smith had teamed up with Darren Emerson, a young DJ who knew the ins and outs of dance music. When Hyde returned, they fused his wordplay and guitar licks with their electronics, using techno as the dominant force for their chimera music.

In 1992, they played a legendary 18-hour set at the Glastonbury Music Festival in the Experimental Sound Field, freewheeling from a tower stage placed in the middle of a blissed-out crowd, quadraphonic speakers and Pink Floyd's control desk blasting them all to a new frontier. Underworld could write songs, but they were first and foremost composers who knew how to jam live with power to the people. Dubnobass perfectly crystallized this expansive, blistering dynamic.

First on vinyl, Underworld’s manifesto ignited dance floors across the globe. The outtake single ‘Rez’ added to the buzz, an instant anthem of instrumental youth music and an unforgettable merry-go-round of sound. Everyone who knows it remembers where they were the first time they heard its oscillating strings of zipping fire. And as one of the early techno albums to hit the compact disc format, Dubno flashed onto discmans and car stereos with equal heat. It was a headphone epic as well as a cool night drive.

With Dubno, the energetic magic of ‘Rez’ was spread across a whole album, yielding inventive cuts of what sounded like the glorious end of pop music. Hyde’s lines like “Whiplash Willy the motor psycho” and “Here comes Christ on crutches” were humorous and dark, floating above synth riffs or crashing through a haze of textures — impressionistic images painted onto the wild sonic shapes conjured by Smith and Emerson.

‘Dark & Long,’ ‘Mmm Skyscraper I Love You,’ ‘Surfboy,’ ‘Spoonman,’ ‘Tongue,’ ‘Cowgirl,’ ‘Dirty Epic,’ ‘River of Bass,’ ‘M.E.’ — each were bold statements in their own right yet essential pieces in a seamless nocturnal symphony. By the time one got to the romantic ‘Dirty Epic’ and stood at the pearly gates of ‘Cowgirl,’ Hyde frantically repeating “I’m invisible, and a razor of love,” you were no longer listening as a bystander. You were wrapped up inside something bigger.

“Everything, everything, everything,” Hyde sings to the futuristic hoedown of ecstatic rhythms before leaving you dazed in a cloud of sparks and pinball melodies. Was it dance rock? Was it techno for the masses? Was it pop music for the next millennium, its post-modern poetry raining down through an electronic ether? Dubnobasswithmyheadman was all those things, and more. It was the Beatnik jam session of a new generation.

NOTE: This new 20-year anniversary edition includes the rave generation's own "ode to joy" -- "Rez" -- their many smart remixes of "Cowgirl" and "Dirty Epic" (including samples from the anime classic "Akira"), many fascinating demos and live renditions, like the excellent "Concord" and "Improv 1" respectively, the surprising treasure "Eclipse," their powerful "Spikee" and "Dogman Go Woof" single, and Rick Smith's world-class instrumental remixes of Dark & Long ("Dark Train," "Thing In A Book," and "Burt's"), arguably three of the best and headiest dance floor tracks of all time. You can't beat it.

*not clear if it is included in this digital version, but the box set includes a wonderful essay by none other than Jon Savage, doyen of the history of punk and other popular music evolutions.

About Underworld

Underworld became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s via an intriguing synthesis of old and new. The trio's two-man front line, vocalist Karl Hyde and keyboard player Rick Smith, had been recording together since the early-'80s new wave explosion; after two unsuccessful albums released as Underworld during the late '80s, the pair finally hit it big after recruiting Darren Emerson, a young DJ hipped to the sound of techno and trance. Traditional pop song forms were jettisoned in favor of Hyde's heavily treated vocals, barely there whispering, and surreal wordplay, stretched out over the urban breakbeat trance ripped out by Emerson and company while Hyde's cascade of guitar-shard effects provided a bluesy foil to the stark music. All in all, the decision to go pop was hardly a concession to the mainstream. The first Underworld album by the trio, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, appeared in late 1993 to a flurry of critical acclaim; the trio then gained U.S. distribution for the album with TVT. Second Toughest in the Infants, the group's sophomore LP, updated its sound slightly and received more praise than the debut. Unlike the first, the LP also sold well, thanks in part to the non-album single "Born Slippy .NUXX," featured on the soundtrack to the seminal film Trainspotting.

The roots of Underworld go back to the dawn of the 1980s, when Hyde and Smith formed a new wave band called Freur. The group released Doot-Doot in 1983 and Get Us Out of Here two years later, but subsequently disintegrated. Hyde worked on guitar sessions for Debbie Harry and Prince, then reunited with Smith in 1988 to form an industrial-funk band called Underworld. The pair earned an American contract with Sire and released its debut album, Underneath the Radar, in 1988. Change the Weather followed one year later, even though little attention had been paid to the first. By the end of the decade, Underworld had disappeared as well.

As they had several years earlier, Hyde and Smith shed their skins yet again, recruiting hotshot DJ Darren Emerson and renaming themselves Lemon Interrupt. In 1992, the trio debuted with two singles, "Dirty"/"Minneapolis" and "Bigmouth"/"Eclipse," both released on Junior Boys Own Records. After they reverted back to Underworld, 1993's "Rez" and "MMM...Skyscraper I Love You" caused a minor sensation in the dance community. Instead of adding small elements of techno to a basically pop or rock formula (as many bands had attempted with varying success), Underworld treated techno as the dominant force. Their debut album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, was praised by many critics upon release later in 1993 and crossed over to the British pop charts. Hyde, Smith, and Emerson impressed many at their concert dates as well; the trio apparently relished playing live, touring Great Britain twice plus Japan, Europe, and the annual summer festival circuit, where their Glastonbury appearance became the stuff of legend.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman was released in the U.S. in 1995 after being licensed to TVT Records. During the rest of the year, Underworld were relatively quiet, releasing only the single "Born Slippy." Finally, Second Toughest in the Infants appeared in early 1996 to much critical praise. The trio gained no small amount of commercial success later in the year when "Born Slippy" (specifically its B-side version, "Born Slippy .NUXX") was featured on the soundtrack to Trainspotting, the controversial Scottish film that earned praise from critics all over the globe. Underworld also remained busy with Tomato -- their own graphic design company responsible for commercials from such high-profile clients as Nike, Sony, Adidas, and Pepsi -- and remixing work for Depeche Mode, Björk, St. Etienne, Sven Väth, Simply Red, and Leftfield. Emerson continued to DJ on a regular basis, releasing mix albums for Mixmag! and Deconstruction. Though Underworld's 1999 LP, Beaucoup Fish, was initially a critical and commercial disappointment, the band continued to tour the world. The live album Everything, Everything followed in 2000, after which Emerson left to continue his DJ career. A Hundred Days Off, Underworld's first LP as a duo since 1989, was released in mid-2002. One year later, the stopgap compilation 1992-2002 appeared.

By 2005, the duo had officially been joined by one of Britain's most respected DJs, Darren Price (although he contributed to A Hundred Days Off), and his work also appeared on a series of online-only EPs Underworld released during 2005 and 2006. They also recorded new material for the soundtrack of the Anthony Minghella film Breaking and Entering. Their first "proper" full-length since 2002, Oblivion with Bells, appeared in 2007. It was followed in 2010 by Barking, an album that featured numerous guest producers including Paul van Dyk, Appleblim, and High Contrast. Underworld simultaneously released two more compilations, the triple-CD 1992–2012 as well as the single-disc A Collection (which featured previously unreleased collaborations with Brian Eno, Tiësto, and Mark Knight & D. Ramirez), in late 2011.

In 2012, Underworld served as music directors for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London. They wrote two songs ("And I Will Kiss" and "Caliban's Dream") for the opening ceremony, and 11 of their tracks were included on the ceremony's official soundtrack album, Isles of Wonder. Underworld were granted the prize for Innovation in Sound at the 2012 Q Awards. In 2013, Karl Hyde released his debut solo album, Edgeland. The following year, he issued a collaborative album with Brian Eno, Someday World; the full-length was quickly followed by High Life, an excellent album that recalled Eno's pioneering work with Talking Heads and David Byrne during the '70s and '80s.

Underworld announced plans to reissue their studio albums in remastered and expanded editions. A 20th anniversary edition of Dubnobasswithmyheadman appeared in 2014, available as a double CD as well as a super deluxe five-CD version, loaded with remixes and unreleased recordings. This was followed by a similar reissue of Second Toughest in November of 2015 (a bit short of its actual 20th anniversary), again as a two-disc edition, as well as an expansive four-CD configuration, including an entire disc devoted to charting the evolution of "Born Slippy .NUXX," from studio demos and live incarnations to an iconic, era-defining anthem. In 2016, they returned with new music and a new label as Caroline International issued their album Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future. ~ John Bush

    London, England

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