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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2000
Well, Underworld have surpassed themselves. I started out with dubnobasswithmyheadman, and thought the world of it. Pumping bass, with some of the most intricate beats. Able to get up and dance to the fast drums, or chill out to the overlapping and intertwining drums and synths on the top.
Then I got second toughest. My illusions of what underworld where/are expanded, whilst still having the chill or dance appeal. Underworld expanded the margins of dance music in my world. There are of course as with any record stand out tracks. They only stand out because of personal preference. Everybody has favorite stand out tracks. For me "Confusion, The Waitress" has the most amazing feel to it. with the heavy HEAVY beat and the definitely confusing synths, over the top is an almost lifeless voice with the best message to live by.
Only bands with special talents can take you to places you've never seen or heard on the 40th time you listen to the cd.
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on 7 March 2003
The first time I heard this album it brought tears to my eyes. This is one of the most sensitive and gentle yet danceable albums I have ever heard. It's all covered from techno and perfectly timed breaks of the first three mixed tracks of Juanita/Kiteless/To Dream of Love- calming it right down to soft, ambient drum and bass of Banstyle/Sappys's curry-and that's just the first third of the album. Karl Hyde's lyrics are as poetic as any scene from Keats or Larkin and with Emerson and Smith make up a truly holy triumvirate. More sparkly and with more production experience that Dubnobasswithmyheadman and with more purity and etherial magic than the following albums, this is Underworlds finest piece of work among an entire crop of genius. Another massive recommendation would be the Everything, Everything world tour video for post-clubbing heightening and wonder.
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on 22 June 2000
Well, lets just say its one of the best albums in this genre I've ever heard. Though its misleading to speak of genres - Underworld are in a league of their own!
A common problem to alot of electronically composed music is that it has immediate impact when the song starts, but then rapidly goes nowhere - which is okay for most dance music I suppose. Underworld on the other hand can put together a 16 minute composition which will keep you engaged right through. This was the album that introduced me to their music - it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
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on 11 December 1999
For me, a budding young songwriter, 'Second Toughest' exemplifies musical perfection. There is not a word, note or sound effect out of place, and the music itself is ground-breakingly beautiful. I have no hesitation in saying that this is the best album I have ever heard.
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on 11 September 2009
Ive had this Album since it was released and it still gets a regular Airing in my CD player. How many 13 year old albums can you say that about? Some people at the time were expecting an abum full of Born slippy and Rez clones. They were the Disapointed ones. What the rest of us got was a musical journey that is proving itself timeless.
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on 18 November 2010
Whilst "Dubnobasswithmyheadman" is probably a better pure album and "Everything Everything" much more accessible for casual fans of Underworld, Second Toughest is where I feel they landed a classic blend of themes.

Perfect for a contemplative night in but just as suitable to put on while chatting with friends. I still listen to this regularly after all these years. Well worth the ridiculously cheap price.
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on 29 January 2014
This album...utterly timeless. Time and time again I return to this, like a photo album of some of the best times in a life - the soundscapes surround you with echoes of unforgettable days and journeys. I've listened to this during my late-teen/early-twenties before going out clubbing/partying/general socialising to get me in that mood. I've also listened to this on long train travels to allow me to daydream to another destination or to match the picturesque views from the window. I've listened to this album when recently travelled to the Baltics on a cold, overcast and lazy December afternoon, wrapped up in a blanket up and over my head with earphones in, allowing me to both take in the ambiance and transport my mind to anywhere I wished to be at that time.

This masterpiece has everything you'll need to be a life-time musical companion. Engrossing, powerful and immensely influential.
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on 25 June 2016
Second Toughtest is probably the stand out Underworld album. A dark journey that really works as a whole album (it's probably harder to track jump with this one). It's more musically interesting that DubNoBassWithMyHeadMan, its also sublimely produced and crafted. From the opening "two" tracks that clock in at over 15 mins each (and are made of seperate parts) you're taken on a voyage that gets ebbs and flows until Pearls Girl smacks you in the face and doesn't let you go.

A Brilliant album that has been expanded on with a re-release that actually gives you Born Slippy (not originally on any album). It's a nice to have and a killer tune but the CD didn't need it and it's brilliant with or without it.
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on 27 November 2004
Juanita/Kiteless/To Dream Of Love is a great three-track mix of trance, featuring vocals (both repetative at the start and emotional at the end), lovely piano and guitar-sounding backdrops and solid beats with plenty of well-made sound effects. The next track, Barnstyle/Sappy's Curry is more drum and bass, but with a definite chilled vibe. I don't enjoy it much, because I'm not a huge chillout fan and when it comes to DnB I like it dark and bass-heavy, so this combination doesn't really work for me, but it's still an OK track.
Confusion The Waitress has a very cool, dark, almost 'secret agent' vibe to it, with a sparse feeling and a simple but seriously cool two-note synth refrain driving it along. Rowla is a fine track, taking one theme and wrapping it around some nice beats. Pearls Girl is a track I've known for a while but initially didn't enjoy much, but these days it's growing on me more and fast becoming one of my favourite Underworld tracks. It starts with a long pad sequence, moving into a broken beat and some typically random vocals, then these 3 main elements are put together over the rest of the track.
Blueski and Air Towel are good tracks, although slightly unmemorable compared to the likes of J/K/T, Confusion and Pearl's Girl, and Stagger is a more ambient track with quite powerful vocals.
I'll admit that when I first bought this album I was completely unimpressed and was ready to go to town and take it back the next day, but I gave it another chance and I'm so glad I did, it's dark and subtle but very good.
I don't know if I'd recommend this as a first album for people getting into the band (these people might want to check out their "Everything, Everything Live" album, featuring some of their best work and not quite as long as the recent anthology, which is good too but might be bewildering), but if you're a fan of some of the band's other songs, or you like dark electronic music, you should check this album out, especially considering it's a very good price if you look in the right places (like here at Amazon)
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on 23 February 2009
Don't expect any "big tunes" or "hits" here, there aren't any.

This album is much deeper than any other Underworld album, and musically it's fantastic.

I highly recommend this album, but only if you have the time to really listen to it
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