On Massive Attack
This year marks the 21st Anniversary of one of my top-ten albums in the entire universe, Massive Attack's brilliant 1991 debut Blue Lines. More than two decades later, the slick style combined with the weeded atmosphere and texture of the record still makes it the perfect disc to play while writing fiction. In addition to the motley trio that comprised the core group, this record also introduced the world to spliff star and madcap recording angel Tricky. One of these days I hope my friends over at Wax Poetics give me a chance to riff on that brief, brilliant time in pop music when trip-hop (hip-hop for grown-ups) ruled the earth.
For now, dig this small piece I wrote about Massive's "game changing" single ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack [Virgin, 1991]
Inspired by blunts and beats, Massive Attack emerged from port town of Bristol determined to be different. Releasing the debut disc Blue Lines in 1991, their so-called ‘trip-hop’ sound became a melodic blueprint for an aural revolution. As former group member Mushroom explained to me in 1998, “When we went into the studio, we didn’t care about the record company or the listeners; we just want wanted to make ourselves happy.”
Luckily, Massive’s sonic selfishness paid off. Their second single ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ brought together various schools of sound including b-boy scratching and funky samples, classical instruments and Shara Nelson’s soulful vocals. The result was an exhilarating manifesto to romantic love and rhythmic rebellion. 20 years later, the controlled chaos and cinematic sound of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ is still serves as a mighty pop influence.
originally published in One More Robot #8