Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman [part 1]

Wax Trax! Records | U S | CD | 1993 | TVT 7217-2

Wax Trax! Records | U S | CD | 1993 | TVT 7217-2

Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman US CD [1993]

  1. Dark + Long
  2. Mmm Skyscraper I Love You
  3. Surfboy
  4. Spoonman
  5. Tongue
  6. Dirty Epic
  7. Cowgirl
  8. River Of Bass
  9. M.E.

Well, I have finally crossed the Rubicon. Thanks to a friend [cdave2] who sent me a copy of this I have finally heard the legendary third Underworld album, where they really became Underworld MK II, in all honesty. Please remember that I came to the party early and left. I remain a huge fan of the band Freur from 1984 onward, and as the band morphed into Underworld MK I and II, I initially eschewed the band’s new incarnation because how could it possibly compare with what had come before? By the mid 90s, I was bored enough to have bought the two MK I albums, years after their release. While they were watered down versions of what had come before, they were not completely without merit; no matter how modest. In the 1996 time period, it was better than a lot of what I was hearing, though certainly not on a par with music like Pulp was delivering!

Let it be said that I was fully aware of the MK II incarnation of the band from the get go, but that I was not much of a fan of techno, and I understood that was the direction that they were moving in. Techno, as I heard it, had too little content for my ears to grab onto. I found the music dull, repetitive and boring. I was aware that as a Kraftwerk fan, here was music that was even less warm and emotional, and yet it had turned a corner for me. Ironic, in that Kraftwerk’s clinical stance was initially one of the hooks for me, apart from their electronic vocabulary. Though I liked dancing, I needed the music to have rhythmic and melodic development, and vocalists went a long way towards helping me to maintain interest. The rave scene was definitely not for me… too dehumanized, and it sure seemed to require drugs. Looking back on 22 years, how would “Dubnobasswithmyheadman” stack up for me?

When I put it on to play, I was immediately taken back to 1992, and the Shriekback album of that year, “Sacred City.” At the time I saw it as a return sideways to the minimal sound of “Care” and a big leap forward from the horribly compromised “Go Bang” album of 1988 that lost a lot of Shriekback ears when it dropped. Strangely enough, I noticed at the time that Karl Hyde of Freur/Underworld had played guitar on it as after two albums [that remember, I did not hear until ’96/’97] with Underworld that seemingly went nowhere. I surmised that Underworld must have been at an impasse for him to emerge with The Shrieks. The lead [and only] single from “Sacred City” was “Bastard Sons of Enoch,” and the vibe on that track was decidedly different as it was developed with loops and elements of techno. A very different kettle of fish for Shriekback, but indeed, that was very close to the sound that awaited me on the next year’s “Dubnobasswithmyheadman” as I pressed “play.”

Next: …Dark + Long

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman [part 1]

  1. nick says:

    i’m looking forward already to seeing what your thoughts on one of my most favorite albums in the world, ever……

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  2. Echorich says:

    Ditto Nick’s comment. There is something very special about Dubnobasswithmyheadman which, for me, starts with the title, runs through the cover art and unfolds with the music itself.

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  3. cdave2 says:

    Hope you find something in Dubno which resonates with you. Thanks for taking the time to listen and comment – looking forward to hearing what you think, whether or not it meets what you loved about Freur.

    I’ll confess that when it was first recommended to me in a St. Louis record shop (thank you, Lance, if you’re out there), I passed as I was in the mood for early Warp-style house at the time. How foolish was that!? Then again, I did the same with New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies because my fifteen-year-old heart was set on Duran Duran. We live and learn.

    I’ll have to give Sacred City another listen…it’s buried within a mountain of boxes, but hopefully not for much longer!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      cdave2 – Thanks again for making this happen. It’s not often you get to appleseed an old curmudgeon like me with such a popular, favorite band. I think that had I not been such a big fan of Freur I might not have been so reticent on UMKII. If they had pulled their metamorphosis out of their hat a year earlier, I probably would have seen a video on 120 Minutes.

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