Undertow (Tool album)

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Undertow
Cover art for Undertow, featuring a red 3D model of a ribcage designed by Adam Jones
Studio album by Tool
Released April 6, 1993 (1993-04-06)
Recorded October–December 1992
Studio
Genre
Length 69:13
Label Zoo
Producer
Tool chronology
Opiate
(1992)
Undertow
(1993)
Ænima
(1996)
Singles from Undertow
  1. "Sober"
    Released: May 1993
  2. "Prison Sex"
    Released: 1993

Undertow is the debut studio album by American rock band Tool, released on April 6, 1993 by Zoo Entertainment. Produced by the band and Sylvia Massy, it was recorded from October to December 1992 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood. The album includes some tracks the band decided to not release on their debut EP Opiate.[1]

Undertow 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 has credited it with helping heavy metal and progressive rock remain prominent as a mainstream musical style, as well as allowing several later acts to achieve popularity; it has also seen its success in the "striking, haunting visuals that complemented [its] nihilistic yet wistful mood."[2] As of 2010, Undertow has sold over 2.9 million copies in the United States, and is certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[3]

Background[edit]

Undertow was Tool's only full album release with original bassist Paul D'Amour.

Comedian Bill Hicks is noted as "inspiration" in the liner notes, and Undertow is the only Tool album released while he was still alive. His presence would feature again on Tool's next album, Ænima.

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".[4] 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 woman 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.[5]

Artwork[edit]

The note from Tool that accompanied some censored versions.

The album art was designed by Adam Jones.[1] 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.[6][7] The band reacted by releasing another version, which depicted a giant barcode on a white background.[6] 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." All the lyrics contained in the passage appear in this order: "Sober", "Crawl Away", "4°", "Prison Sex", "Flood", "Undertow", "Intolerance", "Swamp Song", Disgustipated". The only line missing is "I'll make weapons out of my imperfections", Maynard's original lyrics for "Bottom" before they were modified by guest Henry Rollins.[8]

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[5] amid an array of forks standing on end.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Maynard James Keenan, unless otherwise noted; all music composed by Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Paul D'Amour.

Standard
No.TitleLyricsLength
1."Intolerance" 4:53
2."Prison Sex" 4:56
3."Sober" 5:06
4."Bottom" (featuring Henry Rollins)Keenan, Henry Rollins7:14
5."Crawl Away" 5:30
6."Swamp Song" 5:31
7."Undertow" (About this sound listen ) 5:22
8."4°" 6:03
9."Flood" 7:46
69."Disgustipated" ("Disgustipated" ends at 6:45. Sounds of crickets chirping can be heard for 7 minutes and 5 seconds until 13:50. Maynard's landlord can be heard after the crickets, but the crickets are still heard in the background) 15:47
Total length:69:13

"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 and Australia) or as a hidden track following "Flood" on track 9. On certain Japanese imports, "Disgustipated" is track 70. In all cases, it is listed as track 10 on the album itself.

Japanese Edition[9]
No.TitleLength
10."Opiate" (Opiate does not include "The Gaping Lotus Experience")5:20
Total length:74:35
Australasian Bonus Disc[10]
No.TitleLength
1."Undertow"5:42
2."Sober"5:10
3."Opiate" (Opiate does not include "The Gaping Lotus Experience")5:20
4."Flood"3:40
5."Prison Sex"4:50
6."Jerk Off"4:18
7."Prison Sex"5:01
8."Bottom"6:24
Total length:40:40

Personnel[edit]

Release history[edit]

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 represents 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.

Charts[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Chart Position
1993 Billboard 200 50
Top Heatseekers 1

Singles[edit]

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

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[11] 2× Platinum 2,910,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[12] Platinum 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Accolades[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
About.com4.5/5 stars[13]
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[15]
Spinfavorable
Publication Country Accolade[16] Year Rank
Raw UK Albums of the Year 1993 6
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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gennaro, Loraine (1994). "Tool Guitarist Adam Jones is a Master of Many Trades". Guitar School. 03: 16. Retrieved April 7, 2006. 
  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. ^ "British Rock Royalty Add More Awards". RIAA. July 2, 2001. Archived from the original on October 15, 2006. Retrieved May 14, 2007. ..."Aenima" and "Undertow" are currently double Platinum... 
  4. ^ "The Tool FAQ". toolshed.down.net. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Beaujour, Tom (2008). "Chapter 2 – Undertow (1993)". Revolver presents 'The Book of Tool': 22–24. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Richard Harrington (April 6, 1994). "Keeping Those Risque Covers Undercover" (fee required). The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  8. ^ Epstein, Dan (April 6, 2018). "Tool's 'Undertow': 10 Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. 
  9. ^ "Undertow". Discogs. 
  10. ^ "Undertow (Australasia)". Discogs. 
  11. ^ "American album certifications – Tool – Undertow". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  12. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tool – Undertow". Music Canada. 
  13. ^ Tim Grierson. "Undertow Review". About.com. Retrieved May 6, 2009. 
  14. ^ David Browne (May 28, 1993). "Undertow Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Tool: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Undertow". Acclaimedmusic. Retrieved May 22, 2007. 

External links[edit]