Second Toughest in the Infants

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Second Toughest in the Infants
Second Toughest in the Infants.jpg
Studio album by Underworld
Released 11 March 1996
Recorded 1995, Lemonworld Studios, London
Genre Techno, progressive house, progressive trance, ambient, experimental
Length 73:01
Label Junior Boy's Own
Producer Underworld
Underworld chronology

Second Toughest in the Infants
Beaucoup Fish
Singles from Second Toughest in the Infants
  1. "Pearl's Girl"
    Released: May 1996, October 1996 (re-issue)
  2. "Rowla"
    Released: 1996
  3. "Juanita"
    Released: 1996 (promo only)
Alternative cover
Vinyl edition

Second Toughest in the Infants is the fourth album by Underworld, and the second in their "MK2" line-up with Darren Emerson. With this album, Underworld expanded on their progressive palette, while developing their signature sound of abrasive beats and anthemic melodies. The curious name of the album derives from a comment made by member Rick Smith's six-year-old nephew, Simon Prosser, when asked on his progress at infant school (the level of schooling attended by four- to seven-year-old children in the United Kingdom): "Yeah, don't worry about me, I'm second toughest in the infants now".[1] Second Toughest featured the single "Pearl's Girl". The re-issue featured the band's best known single, "Born Slippy .NUXX".

The album was remastered and re-released on 20 November 2015 with deluxe and super-deluxe expanded editions.[2]


The album opens with the multi-song suite "Juanita : Kiteless : To Dream of Love", which features all three parts intersecting each other at various points during the piece; hence, the use of colons instead of slashes in its name. The loungy, drum and bass track "Banstyle" follows, alongside its downtempo, half-speed counterpart "Sappy's Curry". The rest of the record showcases advancements in the Underworld sound: both "Rowla" and "Pearl's Girl" feature club-ready abrasive beats and basslines, while "Blueski" and "Stagger" incorporate live acoustic guitar and light, melancholic arrangements, respectively. "Pearl's Girl" is one of the few Underworld songs to use breakbeats.

Due to the success of the single"Born Slippy .NUXX", Second Toughest was re-issued with a bonus disc containing the single-only tracks "Born Slippy .NUXX" and "Rez"; Japanese editions also featured "Cherry Pie" and the "(Carp Dreams... Koi)" mix of "Pearl's Girl".

The song titles "Sappy's Curry", "Pearl's Girl" and "Born Slippy" all come from the names of greyhounds from an English racing stadium. These greyhounds finished third, second, and first during Underworld's visit to the races.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly B+[6]
Muzik 5/5 stars[7]
NME 8/10[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]
Select 5/5[10]
The Village Voice C+[11]

Like their previous effort dubnobasswithmyheadman, Second Toughest in the Infants received critical acclaim. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote that Second Toughest in the Infants "carries the same knockout punch of their debut, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, but it's subtler and more varied, offering proof that the outfit is one of the leading dance collectives of the mid-'90s."[12] Anya Sacharow of Entertainment Weekly stated that Underworld "know how to expand the frenzy of techno and jungle and then retreat to an ambient cool" and that "the art is in the segue",[6] while NME stated that the album has a "smooth of touch, sleek of footing and downright slippery of rhythm, the anti-Green Day trio breezily persevere in their quest for Western groove domination."[8] The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[13]

2015 reissue[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
The Guardian 4/5 stars[14]
Mojo 4/5 stars[15]
Pitchfork Media 8.8/10[16]
PopMatters 10/10[17]
Uncut 9/10[18]

In 2015, the album was reissued on vinyl and 2-CD and 4-CD expanded editions. Highlighting alternate mixes, remixes and unreleased songs, the 4-CD version includes a full CD of variations of Underworld's massive hit "Born Slippy .NUXX", from one of the song's earliest versions in 1994, up until its final form a year later (which is included here in its 1996 extended form). Paul Simpson from AllMusic in his retrospective review said that "Second Toughest in the Infants endures as a landmark album, spotlighting Underworld at their creative peak, and remaining an important document of an era when experimental, cerebral electronic dance music received significant mainstream attention."[19]


  • Melody Maker (12/21-28/96, pp. 66–67) - Ranked #5 on Melody Maker's list of 1996's "Albums Of The Year." [20]
  • Melody Maker (3/9/96, p. 35) - Recommended - "...Underworld are modest/cynical/smart enough to borrow jungle's finest trademarks..." [20]
  • Mojo (p. 54) - Ranked #96 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Everything with Underworld is in the detail -- never has the introduction of a hi-hat seemed quite so exciting." [20]
  • NME (12/21-28/96, pp. 66–67) - Ranked #37 in NME's 1996 critics' poll.[20]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Juanita : Kiteless : To Dream of Love"   Emerson/Hyde/Smith 16:36
2. "Banstyle/Sappy's Curry"   Emerson/Hyde/Smith 15:22
3. "Confusion the Waitress"   Emerson/Hyde/Smith 6:47
4. "Rowla"   Hyde/Smith 6:31
5. "Pearl's Girl"   Emerson/Hyde/Smith 9:36
6. "Air Towel"   Hyde/Smith 7:37
7. "Blueski"   Hyde/Smith 2:55
8. "Stagger"   Hyde/Smith 7:37
Reissue Bonus CD
No. Title Length
9. "Born Slippy .NUXX"   11:40
10. "Rez"   9:55
Japanese Reissue Bonus CD
No. Title Length
9. "Cherry Pie"   8:25
10. "Pearl's Girl" (Carp Dreams... Koi) 10:06
2015 20th Anniversary 2-CD Edition: CD2
No. Title Length
1. "Born Slippy" (Original Instrumental Version) 8:31
2. "Cherry Pie"   8:26
3. "Oich Oich"   8:34
4. "Puppies"   3:53
5. "Mosaic"   5:00
6. "Deep Arch"   8:24
7. "Confusion the Waitress" (She Said) 4:54
8. "Rowla" (A1806) 3:58
9. "Pearls Ver2"   8:10
10. "Born Slippy .NUXX"   11:48

20th Anniversary 4-CD Super Deluxe Edition (2015)[edit]

CD2: Extra Tracks & Mixes/Remixes
No. Title Length
1. "Cherry Pie"   8:26
2. "Oich Oich"   8:34
3. "Puppies"   3:53
4. "Mosaic"   5:00
5. "Deep Arch"   8:24
6. "Pearl's Girl" (Tin There) 8:16
7. "Pearl's Girl" (14996 Version) 9:05
8. "Born Slippy" (Original Instrumental Version) 8:31
9. "Born Slippy" (Deep Pan) 10:00
CD3: Unreleased Demos/Outtakes
No. Title Length
1. "Bug"   6:56
2. "Confusion the Waitress" (She Said) 4:54
3. "D+B Thing"   7:16
4. "D'Arbly St."   7:34
5. "4 Crowns"   2:17
6. "Rowla" (A1806) 3:58
7. "Bing Here"   9:43
8. "Techno Thang"   6:26
9. "Pearls Ver2"   8:10
10. "Bloody 1"   16:15
CD4: The Evolution of Born Slippy .NUXX (Various Versions Both Live & Studio)
No. Title Length
1. "Nuxx" (A1796) 8:45
2. "Nuxx" (A2221 UW Live (2 Sets) Leicester M Dog 94) 12:33
3. "Nuxx" (A4712 Live @ Zap Club Brighton Feb94) 11:31
4. "Nuxx" (A4733 UW Live Amsterdam Apr94) 9:21
5. "Nuxx" (Liquid Room 94 A2254 UW Live Liquid Room 2 Tokyo) 11:31
6. "Nuxx" (from A1825) 6:11
7. "Born Slippy .NUXX"   11:48


Chart (1996) Peak
Belgian Albums Chart[21] 23
Dutch Albums Chart[22] 43
Swedish Albums Chart[23] 17
UK Albums Chart[24] 9
Chart (2015) Peak
UK Dance Albums Chart[25] 22


  1. ^ Male, Andrew (April 1996). "Underworld: Second Toughest In The Infants". Select (70): 91. 
  2. ^ "Second Toughest In The Infants Out Now! | Underworld Live". Retrieved 2015-11-22. 
  3. ^ Ron Slomowicz. "Interview with Karl Hyde of Underworld". Guide. 
  4. ^ Simpson, Paul. "Second Toughest in the Infants – Underworld". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  6. ^ a b Sacharow, Anya (26 April 1996). "Second Toughest in the Infants". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  7. ^ James, Martin (10 March 1996). "Tuff Nuts". Muzik: 93. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Underworld: Second Toughest in the Infants". NME: 41. 9 March 1996. 
  9. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  10. ^ Male, Andrew (April 1996). "Underworld: Second Toughest In The Infants". Select (70): 90. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (3 December 1996). "Consumer Guide: Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Second Toughest in the Infants – Underworld". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  13. ^ " Parker...1001 Albums". Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  14. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (10 December 2015). "Underworld: Second Toughest in the Infants box set review – abstract, expansive art-techno". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  15. ^ “After nearly 20 years, the relentless forward motion hasn’t stilled” – 4/5 MOJO
  16. ^ Gaerig, Andrew (4 December 2015). "Underworld: Second Toughest in the Infants". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  17. ^ Mathers, Ian (9 December 2015). "Underworld: Second Toughest in the Infants (Super Deluxe Edition)". PopMatters. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  18. ^ “Still as potent as the day it was bottled” – 9/10 Uncut
  19. ^ Paul Simpson (1996-03-12). "Second Toughest in the Infants - Underworld | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants CD Album". 1996-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-09. 
  21. ^ "Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants". Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  22. ^ Steffen Hung. "Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants". Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  23. ^ Steffen Hung. "Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants". Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  24. ^ "UNDERWORLD | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2015-12-30. 
  25. ^ "Official Dance Albums Chart Top 40 | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2015-12-30.