AS A RECORDING odyssey, the live album is inherently neither good nor bad.
That much is left up to the artist releasing the recording in question. For example, Peter Frampton's was his lone triumph, but if 'N Sync were to record one, it would be a complete waste of resources. Underworld, the group responsible for unleashing the "Born Slippy" epidemic onto American dance floors, offers living proof that a live techno album doesn't have to be a board tape of your garden-variety DJ mix set. On this particular live album, familiar Jekylls are steamrolled by the indulgent Hydes into which they're transformed, beat drops demolish ramshackle buildings for sleek developments, and the little guy finally gets to fulfill his dream of pile-driving the school bully.
The London trio of Darren Emerson, Karl Hyde, and Rick Smith were never entirely single-oriented to begin with. Still outnumbered in a genre of mix albums, their domestic releases had exactly nothing to do with mixing somebody else's singles. Although Underworld has consistently produced winning singles such as "Cowgirl" and "Born Slippy," their tracks and musical sensibilities have been pieces of entire albums that have all of the cohesiveness of a prog-rock album-length suite without the cheesy operatic filler. Everything, Everything may be the closest thing you'll have to a Best of compilation, as Underworld trims the fat off its more moody forays into the technological culinary arts.
The bassline of "Pearl's Girl" sucks you right into the firing pistons of a V-12 engine. Slow, droning beginnings manifest themselves like the horn of a freight train under the influence of the front end of the Doppler effect. The intermittently annoying vocals of "Push Upstairs" suggest Willy Wonka as observed at the moment before he loses his mind on that freaky-ass boat ride. "Born Slippy Nuxx" storms back for seconds, more anthemic than previously hinted by its participation in Trainspotting. The combination of "Juanita/Kiteless" and "Cups" dilates and compresses space/time simultaneously enough to make Stephen Hawking's chair spin. Just goes to show--it's not the firestarters, but the quiet, moody ones that should be watched.