100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #32 Underworld – Cowgirl

Released : 1994

Should ‘shouting lager,lager,lager’ be given some kind of aural equivalent of a blue plaque? Despite all the excess, posturing and band vs. band crap, Underworld’s Born Slippy arguably defined Britpop, a hijacked Lord’s Prayer to hedonism, or at least so 99% of the people listening to it felt.

It was all supposed to be different. ‘Worlders Rick Smith and Karl Hyde were music industry veterans by the time the former broke his leg on an American tour supporting Eurythmics in 1989. Hyde stayed on to play session work for Prince but on his return found Smith working in the studio they jointly owned with Darren Emmerson – whom he’d never met – absence it seemed having made the heart grow raver.

Underworld redux’s first long player was the eclectic Dubnobasswithmyheadman, described breathlessly at the time as “The most important album since The Stone Roses and the best since Screamadelica”. Cowgirl was the track on which Emmerson, operating in what was ostensibly a band but with the instincts of a DJ, took his sabotage overground, mixing consciously or not the synth-punk aesthetics of pioneers like Suicide or Cabaret Voltaire with the heat and strobes of a Dagenham warehouse at 4 a.m. This was music as the bastard son of art with you as the canvas: later, it was all over bar the shouting.


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