60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #56


Beaucoup Fish – Underworld (1999)

There won’t be a huge amount of dance music in this rundown.  It’s not anything to do with my taste in music, but more down to most of the vinyl/CDs associated with the genre and sitting in Villain Towers are singles rather than albums.

One exception is Beacoup Fish, the mighty opus released by Underworld in 1999.  Eleven tracks that take almost 75 minutes to get through, and not at any point do I ever feel like reaching for the remote and pressing the FF button to the next tune.

I wasn’t all that familiar with Underworld prior to the heights scaled by Born Slippy following its use in the film Trainspotting.  I know I wasn’t alone in that regard, and I found it entertaining to read the views of many long-time fans and critics, who were often quite sneering to the millions of us who were so late to the party.  It kind of felt inevitable that there would be some sort of backlash when Karl Hyde, Rick Smith and Darren Emerson got round to writing and recording the new material, and so it proved as Beaucoup Fish was greeted, not quite with cat-calls, but certainly plenty of choruses of it not being as great as the previous four albums.

Not having any of these in my possession meant that I wasn’t in place to make any sort of judgement.  I took this CD entirely on its merits and found it to be a thing of great joy.

It’s another record that lulls listeners into a false sense of security, as album opener Cups meanders along fairly gently for the best part of its opening seven minutes before taking an abrupt turn with a techno beat that seems to build gradually for its remaining five minutes before bouncing straight into the joyous Push Upstairs, a track that must surely never fail to fill any dance floor.  The pop/dance nature of Jumbo merely keeps things going.  All of a sudden, almost 23 minutes have passed in a flash and there’s still eight tracks for your senses to absorb.

mp3 : Underworld – Jumbo

Things do veer a bit for much of the rest of the album between high-tempo dance stuff and more ambient or chilled numbers, before it all signs off with the magnificence of Moaner, a track I have previously waxed lyrically about on this blog, and one that I believe to be the greatest club number of them all.

The thing is, I never went back to Underworld in the years immediately after this album.  It was more a reflection of my limited interest in their type of music than anything else, but if I can jump ahead to 2016, I picked up a copy of their ninth studio album, Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future on the recommendation of a few bloggers I admire, and found it a very enjoyable listen, albeit it was far less frantic and manic than their album from seventeen years earlier.  I suppose even the ravers get old and have to slow down.


10 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #56

  1. The Drift compilation from 2019 is well worth picking up, superb pick of the highlights from their year long project to write and record every week.

  2. It’s a fine album and the tracks they played at the Albert Hall last week were wonderful (as was everything else they played) – and I totally understand your reasons for loving it (no mention of King of Snake though!) – BUT Dubnobasswithmyheadman is their best album!

  3. Also to add – loving this series and it’s making me listen to loads of old records! Thanks!

  4. They may have better, more popular individual tracks on other albums, but for me this is their best full album. I agree. no skips. Also quite a variety of sounds and moods so it never feels repetitive or resting on tried and true formulas.

    I saw them on this tour opening up for the Chemical Brothers (with DJ Shadow as the warm up act no less!) They completely mopped the floor with them. The poor Bros had to follow one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and were clearly not up to the task. Still. What a night.

    PS this series rules.

  5. It really is a great series. And we’re only getting started. Thanks for soundtracking the class of ’63, JC!

  6. I’m sorry to say I’m a voice in the chorus saying it’s not their best, but it’s still a good listen, I’ll give you that. Dubnobasswithmyheadman was a properly great album, highly original and constantly interesting, where most of what came after felt a bit more like repetition without the same creative inspiration. PS, does anybody actually count their first two albums? They were like a different group then, like some sort of Depeche Mode/INXS thing?

  7. Just to say….with regards to no consideration of Dubnobasswithmyheadman, it didn’t qualify for consideration as it wasn’t bought at the time of release.

  8. “and so it proved as Beaucoup Fish was greeted, not quite with cat-calls, but certainly plenty of choruses of it not being as great as the previous four albums.”

    well, I don’t know about this. I mean dubnobass and Second Toughest maybe, but go back and listen to the first two Underworld albums, they may not be what you expect 🙂

    this is a special album to me since it’s the first one I got from them. I think everything they’ve done has been great though. the Drift series was fantastic and I think the Sampler that was released, track-for-track, is very much like Beacoup Fish as an album.

  9. Looks like a lot of disagreement here. I personally believe Second Toughest to the Infants is easily their finest album, besting Beaucoup Fish. Their earlier works were excellent as well, but leaders up upon, IMNSHO. Thanks for the write-up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.