8 April 2013

8th April - Massive Attack's Blue Lines

Artist – Album: Massive Attack – Blue Lines
Released: 8th April 1991
Sounds Like: Trip hop hooray

With the reinvention of dub step, the blossoming of experimental hip hop and the resurgence of British black music, it seems that the twenty-two year old debut album Blue Lines by Massive Attack was born to be played in today’s environment. It kick started the trip hop movement long before there was even a name for the scene, and announced to the world the emergence of one of the most important collectives of the 90’s.

From Elvis Presley’s Rhythm & Blues infused self titled debut to Nirvana’s confessed debt of gratitude to the Pixies on Nevermind, most of the most important innovative records released have a clear set of references – if they didn’t, they’d quickly be dismissed as crazy and would be unable to make the requisite impact – and this album's no different. From the raspy vocals of the semi-legendary Horace Andy to the 70’s soul and reggae that they obviously held dear, Blue Lines is chock full of influences but the genius is in the fusion of these into something new and special.

Unfinished Sympathy’ is clearly the crowning glory of this set, a soulful ballad that is rightfully acclaimed as one of the greatest songs of the last two decades. Fortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t pale into insignificance next to this jewel. ‘Safe from Harm’ is a fantastic introduction to the paranoid world the group usually inhabit, and is supported by the likes of ‘One Love’ and ‘Daydreaming’, whilst songs such as ‘Be Thankful for What You’ve Got’ and ‘Hymn of the Big Wheel’ are actually disarmingly positive.

Blue Lines must have been incredible when it hit the charts in 1991 – it was still relatively alien when I first listened to it nine years later – but today it feels like a snug fit. It wasn’t just the sound of what the future may turn out to be; we’re in the future, and it’s just right. That is the brilliant forward thinking on show here.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Safe from Harm – 5:18
2.       One Love – 4:48
3.       Blue Lines – 4:21
4.       Be Thankful for What You’ve Got – 4:09
5.       Five Man Army – 6:04
6.       Unfinished Sympathy – 5:08
7.       Daydreaming – 4:14
8.       Lately – 4:26
9.       Hymn of the Big Wheel – 6:36

Listen to ‘Hymn of the Big Wheel’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M9muYyYxhI

Also released on the 8th April:
1960: Elvis Presley – Elvis is Back
Also released on the 8th April:
1977: The Clash – The Clash

Also released on the 8th April:
1996: Ocean Colour Scene – Moseley Shoals

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