Underworld Anthology 1992-2002

Around the time of Trainspotting, when Underworld was part of the triumvirate of "electronica” acts destined to take over pop music, (silly music journalists) I came across some old Underworld albums and, much to my chagrin, they were complete ass. Prior to 1992, Underworld was a bloody awful funk-rock band, which just makes the later accomplishments of vocalist Karl Hyde and guitarist Rick Smith that much more impressive. After joining forces with 18-year-old DJ Darren Emerson, Underworld v.2.0 quickly became one of the most important acts of the entire decade. By definition dance music is created to capture a moment in time on the dance floor, and while there is a certain nostalgic quality to Underworld’s "techno” sound — which melds acid house, epic trance, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, euphoric peaks fearlessly pounding beats — it refuses to become dated. Unlikely mainstream hits like "Push Upstairs” sound as beautifully frantic as ever while the "lager, lager, lager” hook to "Born Slippy” remains more infectious than SARS. Fusing rock culture with rave values (or was it the other way around?) Underworld soundtracked Britain’s post-Criminal Justice Bill dance culture from 1992’s harmonica-heavy "Big Mouth” and 1994’s chilly epic "Dark And Long (Dark Train)” to pre-millennial anthem "Moaner” and last year’s surprisingly satisfying post-Emerson "Two Months Off.” People constantly gripe about how dance music isn’t as good as it used to be — one listen to Anthology proves them right. (Junior Boy's Own)