Undertow (Tool album)

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Undertow
Studio album by Tool
Released April 6, 1993
Recorded October – December 1992 at Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, and at Grandmaster Recorders, Hollywood, California
Genre Alternative metal, progressive metal, heavy metal
Length 69:07
Label Zoo Entertainment
Producer Sylvia Massy, Tool
Tool chronology
Opiate
(1992)
Undertow
(1993)
Ænima
(1996)
Alternative cover
The censored artwork edition, sold in periodic stores in the United States.
Singles from Undertow
  1. "Sober"
    Released: 1993
  2. "Prison Sex"
    Released: 1993
  3. "4º"
    Released: 1993
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 4.5/5 stars[1]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly A−[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[4]
Spin favorable October 7, 2003

Undertow is the debut full-length album by American rock band Tool, released in 1993. According to Allmusic, Undertow helped heavy metal music remain prominent as a mainstream musical style, and allowed several later bands to break through to the mainstream. It was released at a time when grunge was at the height of its popularity, and pop punk was slowly beginning to gather mainstream attention.[2] Allmusic saw the album's success in the "striking, haunting visuals that complemented the album's nihilistic yet wistful mood."[2] It was eventually certified double platinum by the RIAA on May 14, 2001.[5] As of July 7, 2010, Undertow has sold 2,910,000 copies in the US.

The album was recorded between October and December 1992 at Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, and at Grandmaster Recorders, Hollywood, California, by Sylvia Massy. Some of the songs featured on the album are songs that the band decided to not release on their first EP, Opiate.[6]

Album art[edit]

The album art was designed by Adam Jones.[6] Photos in the liner notes of a nude obese woman, a nude man of normal weight, and the band members with pins in the sides of their heads generated controversy, resulting in the album being removed from stores such as Kmart and Wal-Mart.[7][8] The band reacted by releasing another version, which depicted a giant bar code on a white background.[7] This version of the album included a note from the band.

The message on the photographs of the band members reads "Trust me trust me trust me trust me trust me I just want to start this over say you won't go this is love I'll make weapons out of my imperfections lay back and let me show you another way only this one holy medium brings me peace of mind cleanse and purge me in the water twice as loud as reason euphoria I've been far too sympathetic no one told you to come I hope it sucks you down life feeds on life this is necessary." This passage contains lyrics from all of the songs of the album.

In some versions of the album, when the black CD tray is removed from the case, a picture of a cow licking what appears to be its genital region is revealed. In other versions of the album, released internationally, the picture of the cow licking the genital region is viewable without problems under the transparent backing of the disc case. The photo of the cow is accredited in the album's liner notes to have been taken by Danielle Bregman. The ribcage is also on the front cover of the album, but the obese woman is absent from the booklet of the musical album; only the members of the band are depicted.

Adam Jones' pet pig, Moe, appears on the back cover[9] amid an array of forks standing on end.

Album information[edit]

Undertow, was Tool's last release with original bassist Paul D'Amour.

Comedian Bill Hicks is noted as "inspiration" in the liner notes. His presence would feature again on Tool's next album.

Chris Haskett, then with the Rollins Band, is credited in the liner notes with "sledge hammer", probably relating to the "three pianos and shotguns smashed with sledgehammers" on "Disgustipated".[10] Adam Jones recalls a story in which the band purchased two second-hand pianos with the intention of blasting them with shotguns in the indoor parking lot of Grand Master Studio and putting the resulting sounds to tape. Apparently the man running the studio was happy as long as they cleaned up the mess afterwards. Since the incident, Tool has been approached by other bands claiming to have seen the shotgun holes left by them in the carpark wall.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Tool unless otherwise noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Intolerance"     4:54
2. "Prison Sex"     4:56
3. "Sober"     5:06
4. "Bottom" (feat. Henry Rollins) Tool and Henry Rollins 7:14
5. "Crawl Away"     5:29
6. "Swamp Song"     5:31
7. "Undertow About this sound listen "     5:22
8. "4°"     6:03
9. "Flood"     7:45
10. "Disgustipated"     15:47
Total length:
68:07

"Disgustipated" is track 69 on most pressings in North America (tracks 10–68 are silent. Tracks 10-67 are 1 second each in length, and track 68 is 2 seconds). It also appears as track 39, track 10 (mostly in Europe) or as a hidden track following "Flood" on track 9. On certain Japanese imports, "Disgustipated" is track 70, with a short live version of "Flood" as track 71.

Release history[edit]

The note from Tool that accompanied some censored versions.
Region Date Label Format Catalog Distributor Notes
United States 1993 (1) Zoo Entertainment Vinyl ZP11052-1 BMG Music Grey vinyl (promotional)
ZP11052-1 Clear vinyl (promotional)
April 6, 1993
(original release)
CD 72445-11052-2
Cassette 72445-11052-4
Vinyl 72445-11052-1
CD 72445-11073-2 Barcode cover
Cassette 72445-11073-4 Barcode cover
CD D 153661 BMG Direct Marketing
Canada BG2-11052 Columbia House
Germany 72445-11052-2 BMG Music
United States 1996 (2) Volcano Entertainment Vinyl 72445-11052-1-RE Repress
CD 61422-31073-2 Barcode cover
Europe 1993 7243 8 46690 2 Virgin
United Kingdom Music For Nations CDMFN 246
Canada 1999 (3)
Volcano Entertainment
and
Tool Dissectional
61422-33010-2 BMG Music Canada
United States Vinyl 61422-31052-1 Sony BMG Music Released in the original Zoo sleeve
Europe CD 0550032
Japan June 27, 2001 ZJCI-14006 Avex
United States 2004 (4) Vinyl 61422-31052-1 Sony BMG Music
Japan May 10, 2006 CD BVCQ-21070
Europe May 15, 2006 82876536472
  1. The promotional vinyl did not include the final track "Disgustipated" so that the entire album could fit onto one disc. Because it is promotional, it is possible that it was released before the regular pressing, therefore, only the year is listed.
  2. The year 1996 represent the year that Volcano Entertainment began using its own logo on releases which formerly used the Zoo Entertainment logo. In reality, 1996 reissues with the Volcano logo may not have actually been widely distributed until early in 1997.
  3. The year 1999 represents the year that Tool's Tool Dissectional label was used in conjunction with Volcano. Strong evidence supports a North American reissue date of July 1, 1999, however, the European ones are unknown. To be cautious, only the year is given for all releases of this nature.
  4. The year 2004 represents the year that Sony BMG was created. These reissues contain artwork that depicts Sony BMG as the distributor. Since Sony BMG's pressing schedule is not known, the actual release date may be sometime in 2004 or 2005.

Charting[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Chart Position
1993 Billboard 200 50
1993 Top Heatseekers 1

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1993 "Sober" Mainstream Rock Tracks 13
1994 "Prison Sex" Mainstream Rock Tracks 32
1994 "Sober" Mainstream Rock Tracks 23

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade[11] Year Rank
Raw UK Albums of the Year 1993 6
Raw UK 90 Essential Albums of the 90s 1995 *
Visions Germany The Best Albums 1991–96 1996 *
Pause & Play US The 90s Top 100 Essential Albums 1999 11
Classic Rock UK The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time 2001 87

(*) designates unordered lists.

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tim Grierson. "Undertow Review". About.com. Retrieved May 6, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Rob Theakston (July 2, 2001). "Undertow Review". AllMusic.com. Retrieved May 22, 2007. "Just as grunge was reaching its boiling point and radio-friendly punk-pop loomed on the horizon, Tool released Undertow, which firmly reinforced metal's prominence as a musical style [...] With its technical brilliance, musical complexities, and aggressive overtones, Undertow not only paved the way for several bands to break through to the mainstream [...], it also proved that metal could be simultaneously intelligent, emotional, and brutal." 
  3. ^ David Browne (May 28, 1993). "Undertow Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Tool: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  5. ^ "British Rock Royalty Add More Awards". RIAA. July 2, 2001. Retrieved May 14, 2007. "..."Aenima" and "Undertow" are currently double Platinum..." [dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Gennaro, Loraine (1994). "Tool Guitarist Adam Jones is a Master of Many Trades". Guitar School 03: 16. Retrieved April 7, 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Griffin, J.R. (1994). "Tool on Videos, Censorship, Art, And Why You Should Never Let A Guy Named Maynard Put You in a Cage". Axcess. Retrieved May 13, 2007. "It came as no surprise when Wal-Mart and Kmart refused to carry the album. Rather than miss out on a large audience, Tool decided to censor itself and released a plain white album cover that contained nothing more than a giant bar code, the band's name, and the album tracks." 
  8. ^ Richard Harrington (April 6, 1994). "Keeping Those Risque Covers Undercover" (fee required). The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b Beaujour, Tom (2008). "Chapter 2 – Undertow (1993)". Revolver presents 'The Book of Tool': 22–24. 
  10. ^ "The Tool FAQ". toolshed.down.net. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Undertow". Acclaimedmusic. Retrieved May 22, 2007.