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Studio album by
Released24 January 1994
Recorded1993 at Lemonworld Studios and The Strongroom in London
GenreProgressive house, techno
LabelJunior Boy's Own
Underworld chronology
Change the Weather
Second Toughest in the Infants
Singles from Dubnobasswithmyheadman
  1. "Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You"
    Released: 11 June 1993
  2. "Cowgirl"
    Released: 1994
  3. "Dark & Long"
    Released: 18 June 1994
  4. "Dirty Epic"
    Released: 18 July 1994
Alternative cover
Vinyl edition
Vinyl edition

Dubnobasswithmyheadman (stylised as dubnobasswithmyheadman) is the third studio album by British electronic music group Underworld, released in the UK on Junior Boy's Own on 24 January 1994.[1][2] It was the first Underworld album after the 1980s version of the band had made the transition from synthpop to techno and progressive house and is also the first album to feature Darren Emerson as a band member, ushering in the "MK2" phase of the band, which continued until Emerson's departure in 2001.


The first version of Underworld had ended after a 1989 tour of North America as the support act to Eurythmics. After the tour Karl Hyde had stayed in the US for two months to work at Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis as a session musician, and then toured with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie.[3] When Hyde returned to the UK he found his former bandmate Rick Smith had been collaborating on dance tracks with a teenage DJ named Darren Emerson, a friend of Hyde's brother-in-law, at Hyde and Smith's studio in Romford: Emerson had been eager to learn how to use the equipment in a recording studio, and in turn Smith had been keen to have somebody who could introduce him to electronic music and club culture which he had grown increasingly interested in.[3][4] The three men started to swap ideas and create songs, resulting in a series of singles released throughout 1992 and 1993 under the names Underworld and Lemon Interrupt.


Underworld's approach to songwriting was very fluid, and based on the idea that everything was valid. Hyde told Melody Maker, "We're grabbing elements from all different times and areas of music and taking them somewhere else. We don't want to simply regurgitate the past, and even though we're using vocals and guitars, we're trying to do it in new ways. We're trying to find ways which makes those elements relevant to today. By not following a blueprint, we're able to base a song on acoustic guitar, or we can do a pure techno track, based on an oscillator. In the past, Rick and I have often been excited by a poem or a film or something and thought, 'That's inspired us to do a great reggae tune but we can't because we're not in a reggae band'. Now we would think, 'F*** yes, let's do it'." Smith added, "There's a lot of cutting and pasting, especially with the vocals. Something which is recorded for one track one day may well end up on three different tracks a few months down the line. Nothing is fixed. They're just points for us to jump off of."[4]

Many of Hyde's lyrics were written during his sojourn in the US: "Dark and Long" was intended to evoke the open prairies of Minnesota that he had visited while working in Minneapolis, and "Mmm Skyscraper... I Love You" was inspired by walking around Greenwich Village in New York City. Hyde stated that the biggest influences at the time on his writing style had been Lou Reed's 1989 album New York, and playwright Sam Shepard's autobiography Motel Chronicles.[3]


Tomato, the art design collective that includes Underworld's Rick Smith and Karl Hyde, designed the artwork for Dubnobasswithmyheadman. It features black and white type that has been "multiplied, smeared, and overlaid" so much that it is nearly unreadable, alongside a "bold symbol consisting of a fractured handprint inside a broken circle".[5][6] The artwork was originally intended for Tomato's book Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You: A Typographic Journal of New York, published in 1994.[7]

According to the authors of The Greatest Album Covers of All Time, the cover "set a new standard of presentation for subsequent Dance albums".[7] In Graphic Design: A New History, Stephen Eskilson cites the cover as a notable example of the "expressive, chaotic graphics" that developed in the 1990s, a design style he calls "grunge".[8] In an article published in the journal Substance Paul Zelevansky says that "the packaging... replays the visual poetry of the 1960s and '70s and fast forwards to the alchemical transformations of computer graphics packages".[5]

The album artwork also features excerpts of lyrics to the band's 1996 hit Born Slippy .NUXX, a track which was released two years after the album.

Karl Hyde told Uncut magazine in 2014 that the album's title had come from him misreading Rick Smith's writing on a cassette tape box.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[10]
Drowned in Sound10/10[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[14]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[15]

Dubnobasswithmyheadman received widespread acclaim from music critics. Writing in Melody Maker, a year before he left to co-found the specialist dance music magazine Muzik, Ben Turner proclaimed that "Dubnobasswithmyheadman is the most important album since The Stone Roses and the best since Screamadelica ... While others are content to go techno techno techno techno [a reference to the lyrics of "No Limit" by 2 Unlimited, a UK No. 1 hit the previous year], Underworld have taken a step back, utilising Karl Hyde and Rick Smith's experience in rock music and throwing it full in the face of 22-year-old DJ, Darren Emerson. The result is utterly contemporary, the sound of the moment, beautifully capturing melodic techno, deranged lyricism, historic bass and lead guitars and astounding walls of rhythm ... This breathtaking hybrid marks the moment that club culture finally comes of age and beckons to everyone."[18] NME said, "Before Underworld's startling remixes for Björk and Orbital last year, no-one would've put money on ex-members of ... popsters Freur making the first visionary record of '94 ... The sheer weight of ideas on offer and the constant variance of sounds and textures add up to a coherent, cogent whole, not a series of jack-tracks sequenced together, nor a series of hits with filler thrown in ... By writing 'songs'—albeit playful, deranged ones—Underworld have come up with a solution for the facelessness that blights some dance music."[13] Vox wrote that "apart from the lumbering blasphemy of 'Dirt Epic' [sic], the only non-event here, it's all go-with-the-flow stuff laced with intricacies ... Attractive, undulating and with moments of innovation, this Underworld offering transcends many of the limitations of its genre."[17]

John Bush from AllMusic gave the album 5 out of 5 stars saying, "From the beginning of the first track 'Dark & Long', Underworld's focus on production is clear, with songwriting coming in a distant second", also adding that "Underworld are truly a multi-genre group".[10] Adie Nunn from Drowned in Sound gave the album a perfect 10/10 score describing it as "An album indie kids and pop kids could like as well as the electronic elite, whilst the band retained their credibility".[19] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine gave it 4 out of 5 stars saying that "It stands as their greatest overall contribution to electronic music" and also stating that "The album blends Acid House, Techno and Dub into a refined, epic headrush".[15]

2014 reissue[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Mojo4/5 stars[20]
Q4/5 stars[23]
Record Collector4/5 stars[24]

In 2014, the album was reissued on vinyl, Blu-Ray, and 2-CD and 5-CD expanded editions. Reviewing the reissue, Q described the album as "superb" and proposed that Hyde and Smith's previous 14 years of making music "was why the uncannily undated Dubnobasswithmyheadman still exudes such multidimensional sophistication".[23] Uncut praised the material on the extra four discs, but felt that the original album was still Underworld's key record, claiming that Hyde's lyrical vision was able to make Romford sound as exotic as the USA he had seen on his travels, and that this was the reason why "twenty years later, the results of that crazy belief still sound like dance music's dirtiest epic".[9]


Dubnobasswithmyheadman was ranked at number 16 in Melody Makers "Albums of the Year" in 1994.[25]

  • Q (12/99, p. 82) - Included in Q Magazine's "90 Best Albums Of The 1990s."[26]
  • Alternative Press (5/00, p. 120) - Included in AP's "10 Essential Dance Albums That Rock"
  • Alternative Press (7/95, p. 116) - "... this British conglomerate brought critics and listeners to their knees with a sprawling epic of guitars, muttered vocals and subtle, intricate beats ..."

Track listing[edit]

All tracks produced by Underworld (Darren Emerson, Rick Smith and Karl Hyde). Writing credits are often missing or inconsistent, for example the original Lemon Interupt single credits Smith/Hyde/Emerson as writers of "Dirty",[27] while later editions[28] only credits Smith/Hyde.

1."Dark & Long"Smith/Hyde7:35
2."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You"Emerson/Smith/Hyde13:08
6."Dirty Epic"Smith/Hyde9:55
8."River of Bass"Smith/Hyde6:26
2001 Japanese edition bonus mini CD
2."Why Why Why" 12:24
2014 20th anniversary 2-CD edition, CD2
1."Eclipse" (released under the name Lemon Interupt)P. Hernandez[30]13:01
3."Dirty" (released under the name Lemon Interupt)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[27]10:19
4."Dark & Long" (Dark Train)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[31]9:55
6."Concord" (3 comp75 id9 a1771 aug 93a) 6:51
7."Can You Feel Me?" (from a4796) 4:31
8."Birdstar" (a1558 nov 92b.1) 4:53

20th anniversary 5-CD super deluxe edition (2014)[edit]

CD2, Singles 1991–1994
1."The Hump" (Wild Beast) 6:25
2."Eclipse" (released under the name Lemon Interupt)P. Hernandez[30]13:00
4."Dirty" (released under the name Lemon Interupt)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[27]10:18
5."Dirty Guitar"Emerson/Smith/Hyde[28]10:01
6."Dark & Long" (Hall's Edit)Smith/Hyde[33]4:10
7."Dark & Long" (Dark Train)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[31]9:54
CD3, Remixes 1992–1994
1."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You" (Jam Scraper)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[34]9:14
2."Cowgirl" (Irish Pub in Kyoto mix)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[35]11:45
3."Dark & Long" (Most 'ospitable mix)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[33]5:55
4."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You" (Telegraph 16.11.92)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[34]7:09
5."Dark & Long" (Burts mix)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[31]8:47
6."Dogman Go Woof"Emerson/Smith[32]12:15
7."Dark & Long" (Thing in a Book mix)Emerson/Smith/Hyde[36]20:14
CD4, Previously unreleased recordings 1991–1993
1."Concord" (3 comp75 id9 a1771 aug 93a)6:51
2."Dark & Long" (1st ruff id3 a15512)9:34
3."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You" (a1765 sky version id4. harmone6 comp43)9:58
4."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You" (after sky id6 1551 2)5:29
5."Can You Feel Me?" (from a4796)4:30
6."Birdstar" (a1558 nov 92b.1)4:51
7."Dirty Epic" (dirty ambi piano a1764 oct 91)6:48
8."Spoonman" (version1 a1559 nov92)10:04
9."Organ" (eclipse version from a4796)6:19
10."Cowgirl" (alt cowgirl c69 mix from a1564)10:12
CD5, Live jam Kyme Rd (previously unreleased live rehearsal recorded in the band's home studio in 1993)
1."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You"13:27
2."Improv 1"7:27
4."Improv 2"8:03
5."Big Meat Show"11:16
6."Improv 3"9:52

The original version of "Dirty" is almost a minute longer, at 11:14. The remastered version cuts a coda that contained a sample from "Dolls' Polyphony" from the soundtrack to the anime film Akira.

Early prototype[edit]

On 3 October 2008 a DAT from 1993 surfaced on Underworld's official messageboard, which featured a different running order, some extended mixes and three previously unreleased songs: "Big Meat Show", "Organ" and "Can You Feel Me", an outtake from previous sessions. The poster of the DAT called it "just a sampling of the type of songs the band was creating, showing any potential label that was interested ..."[37]

1."Dirty Epic" 9:59
2."Jamscraper"as "Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You (Jam Scraper)"8:57
3."Big Meat Show"unreleased, a longer version on 1992–2012 The Anthology6:52
4."Mmm…Skyscraper I Love You" 13:02
5."Organ"as "Organ (eclipse version from a4796)" (Dubnobasswithmyheadman 20th anniversary)6:23
6."River of Bass"unreleased, 6:26 version on Dubnobasswithmyheadman9:10
7."Dark and Long" 7:31
8."Dirty Fuzz"as "Dirty Guitar"9:55
9."Can U Feel Me"as "Can You Feel Me? (from a4796)" (Dubnobasswithmyheadman 20th anniversary)4:31
10."Goodbye Mother Earth"as "M.E."7:08


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[38] 132
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[39] 142
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[40] 71
UK Albums (OCC)[41] 12
Chart (1999) Peak
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[42] 34
Chart (2014) Peak
Scottish Albums (OCC)[43] 82
UK Dance Albums (OCC)[44] 12

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[45] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] N/A 56,000[46]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Jones, Nick (January 1994). Mixmag. London, England: DMC Publishing. 2 (32): 29. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "From the Underworld". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 4. 15 January 1994.
  3. ^ a b c Petridis, Alexis (November 2014). "The modern dance". Mojo. London, England: Bauer Media Group (252): 51–55.
  4. ^ a b Push (22 January 1994). "Going Overground". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 24–25.
  5. ^ a b Zelevansky 1997, p. 136.
  6. ^ Eskilson 2007, p. 375.
  7. ^ a b Miles et al. 2005, p. 214.
  8. ^ Eskilson 2007, p. 374.
  9. ^ a b c Mulholland, Garry (November 2014). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Uncut. London, England: IPC Media (210): 85–87.
  10. ^ a b Bush, John. "Dubnobasswithmyheadman – Underworld". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  11. ^ [redacted] (13 January 2003). "Album Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  13. ^ a b Fadele, Dele (15 January 1994). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 28.
  14. ^ Spartos, Carla (2004). "Underworld". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 837. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  15. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (2 February 2002). "Underworld: dubnobasswithmyheadman". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  16. ^ Bonner, Michael (April 2016). "Underworld: Buyer's Guide". Uncut (227): 29.
  17. ^ a b Strongman, Phil (February 1994). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Vox. London, England: IPC Media (41): 68.
  18. ^ Turner, Ben (15 January 1994). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 27.
  19. ^ Nunn, Adie (13 January 2003). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  20. ^ Worthy, Stephen (November 2014). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman Super Deluxe". Mojo. London, England: Bauer Media Group (252): 111.
  21. ^ Heyland, Nick (8 October 2014). "Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman (20th Anniversary Remaster)". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  22. ^ Mathers, Ian (24 October 2014). "Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  23. ^ a b Harrison, Ian (October 2014). "Review: Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Q. London, England: Bauer Media Group (339): 124–25.
  24. ^ Smith, Phil (November 2014). "Underworld – dubnobasswithmyheadman". Record Collector (433). Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Albums of the Year". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 66–67. 24 December 1994.
  26. ^ "Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman CD".
  27. ^ a b c "Lemon Interupt – Dirty / Minniapolis". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Underworld – Dirty Epic". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  29. ^ a b c "Underworld – Rez". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Lemon Interupt – Eclipse / Big Mouth". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017. The writing credits on this release are completely fabricated (a band in-joke)
  31. ^ a b c "Underworld – Dark & Long 1". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  32. ^ a b c "Underworld – Spikee / Dogman Go Woof". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  33. ^ a b "Underworld – Dark & Long". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Underworld – Mmm... Skyscraper I Love You". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  35. ^ "Underworld – Cowgirl". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  36. ^ "Underworld – Dark & Long 2". Discogs. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  37. ^ deckard236. "unreleased dubnobasswithmyheadman era". Dirty Forums. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  38. ^ "Ultratop.be – Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  39. ^ "Ultratop.be – Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  40. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  41. ^ "Underworld | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  42. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  43. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  44. ^ "Official Dance Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  45. ^ "British album certifications – Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Dubnobasswithmyheadman in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  46. ^ Paoletta, Michael (20 March 1999). "UK Dance Act Targets US Audience With Junior Boy's Own, V2 Disc". Billboard. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  47. ^ "American album certifications – Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]