Underworld - Beaucoup Fish (Super Deluxe Edition)

by Rob Taylor Rating:9 Release Date:2017-08-25

In the relatively silent hum of ordinary life, the sounds of Underworld emerging from the speakers seems an abrupt intrusion. They're such a high energy proposition, that removed from context, the assault on the senses can be disarming. So, in the spirit of things, I waited until late, locked the lounge-room door, and in reverence to days of old, spun the bass dial towards critical mass. I may have swilled too much homemade ale as well. Lager, lager, lager and all that. Except that pre-dates Beaucoup Fish. Oh well, drinking makes me nostalgic.

The four odd hours of Beaucoup Fish (Super Deluxe Edition) required a fair amount of cognitive re-wiring, but the breakthrough moment for me was Dave Price’s grimy sex infused remix of ‘’Push Upstairs”. Emphasising the dark and the long, this purely techno/acid house mix epitomises the bullying madness of Karl Hyde’s vocal, with a nasty breakbeat and some trippy keyboards. Pure dance floor. Ecstatic, anthemic and all consuming. 

If Underworld didn’t quite reach the highs of Dubnobasswithmyheadman and Second Toughest in the Infants, they still turned out some fantastic club tracks on Beaucoup Fish, with Hyde’s stream of consciousness vocal preaching over a substratum of thumping bass and beguiling rhapsodies. As ever, hits like ‘’Moaner’’ pulse at critical levels, and there’s only ever one way to respond to it. It’s not road music. Underworld’s popularity had everything to do with drawing rock fans into techno club culture, and this was largely to do with Hyde’s slightly unhinged beat poetry, and getting straight to the point with the big anthems. The build-ups never took long to reveal the euphoric highs. “Moaning”, “King of Snake’’ and ‘’Push Upstairs’’ delivered what the fans wanted.

The interesting thing though was the venture into more minimalist electronic tracks like ‘’Skym” which is a stargazer rather than a floor mover, and more in acquaintance with Cocteau Twins and other 4AD artists around that time. ''Skym'' (A1317) by contrast is a more dazed and confused late cocktail bar mix which meanders a little.

Of the tracks I’d never heard, ‘’Please Help Me’’ (originally from the Push Upstairs EP) experiments with these soundscapes away from the critical eye of their preeminent catalogue. It’s a lovely sound that builds into a tribal beat which comes and goes, giving way for the most part to a hymnal meditation.

The most interesting remixes are the ones that diverge significantly from the originals. ‘’Cups’’ is given the ‘’4am Eternal’’ treatment, sounding more like a comedown track with cute little guitar flourishes and robotic vocals. The Moroder-like beat structure lends a very disco feel to the track, which is different from the original’s slower, fuzzier, techno-lite groundwork. Fatboy Slim’s ‘’King of Snake’’ mix contains a Japanese/English narrative about snake fighting, emphasising Norman Jay’s playfulness, and the mischievous objective of keeping hands in the air just a little bit longer than your average DJ.

Whilst Dave Clark’s dark and sexed up mix of ‘’Push Upstairs’’ was one that encouraged indiscreet dance-floor hugging, the Roger S. Narcotic one is more pre-party grunt and introspection, barely registering the original.  

The ‘’King of Snake’’ (Dave Angel Remix) is a brilliant jungle mix for those who like it hard and trippy. The King of Snake (Claudio Coccolutto Mix) is more Georgio Moroder inspiration, but also part Vangelis and Bachman Turner Overdrive. The percussion employs a street festival Latin sound. ‘’Nifter” (A1317) has a never been repeated soulful vocal from Hyde which give another dimension on his voice, akin to a call to prayer, he holds his notes over sparing electronic sounds. Simple but affecting.

There’s much more, but interestingly no alternative mix of ‘’Moaner’’. There is however a great live version of it on ‘Live at the Oblivion Ball” a 2007 concert from Tokyo released on www.underworldlive.com and still available, should anyone want to seek it out.

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