The return of Massive Attack


February 8 will see the release of Massive Attack’s first studio album in seven years. Heligoland. It’s the band’s fifth album. Tellingly, 3D and Daddy G’s myspace page says ‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing slowly.’ Having worked with a number of guest vocalists in the past, including Sinead O’Connor, Elizabeth Fraser, Tracey Thorn and Shara nelson, this album features the return of long-time collaborator Horace Andy, as well as Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval, Martina Topley-Bird, Guy Garvey and Tunde Adebimpe.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Pray For Rain
2. Babel
3. Splitting The Atom
4. Girl I Love You
5. Psyche
6. Flat Of The Blade
7. Paradise Circus
8. Rush Minute
9. Saturday Come Slow
10. Atlas Air

‘Splitting The Atom’ and ‘Pray For Rain’ are streaming on the band’s myspace page.

The video for the Hope Sandoval featuring ‘Paradise Circus’ can be seen here. This is, as they say NSFW (Not Safe For Work). You have been warned…Not quite as extreme as ‘Plug Me In’ by Add N to (X) but not far off it.

Meanwhile this remix has been made available for free:

Massive Attack featuring Horace Andy – ‘Girl I Love You (She Is Danger remix)’ mp3

Massive Attack website/Massive Attack myspace

33 1/3 Part 13


Massive Attack -‘Blue Lines.’ (Virgin, 1991)

There are many albums that grab you from the off. To my shame, however, this was a band and album that I was aware of, and kinda liked but didn’t grow to appreciate until the end of the decade.

More fool me. Because the record that stands up most from 1991 is this album, over Screamadelica, Out Of Time, Bandwagonesque, and (whisper it) Nevermind is the debut album from the Bristol collective. It still sounds fresh and peerless almost twenty years after its’ release.

And it’s a thoroughly -and I mean this as a compliment – British record. Sure, it takes aspects from American and Jamaican music, but this is a record that showcases the best in what goes on in the UK. And not a skinny white indie boy in sight. It wasn’t even a record from London, it was from the West Country and featured amazing talent: the legendary Jamaican singer Horace Andy and launched the careers of both Shara Nelson and Tricky. It was music like this that as the nineties progressed, and I realised that I’d adopted a King Canute approach to much dance music, that I realised just how diverse and different it could be.Here there were live instruments and drums, it wasn’t just samples, people rapped in English accents, and weren’t aping the gangsta approach from the US. In 1989 Soul II Soul seemed to represent much of the future, but they ultimately failed to deliver over time. Massive Attack not only built on their potential – they took it to places few could have imagined.

It’s telling that I wasn’t the only person who was slow to catch on: though it was a commercial as well as critical success, it took a while to completely filter through. Track six, the timeless ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ is now my favourite song of the last twenty years. As a fourteen year old I liked it, but wasn’t moved to buy the album at the time. Silly me. It was 1998 before it came no.1 in a poll of the best songs of all time. It’s certainly moves the heart as well as the head – how can something be so amazing, making you feel happy and sad all that the same time?

As well as ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ there are so many other classics on the record; it’s a debut that is just so strong, that as great as many of the other albums Massive Attack have made, none of them have been quite as amazing as as Blue Lines. And for my money, a stonger debut than Oasis, Suede or even Portishead. Final song ‘Hymn From the Big Wheel’ feels almost as religious as the name hymn might suggest. Opener ‘Safe From Harm’ captures urban paranoia perfectly – even if the video they made was seemingly repeated by themeslves for much of the next decade.

A faultless album, that really is a perfect ten. This is Britain taking its’ influences from overseas and producing something for us all to be proud of. Dance music coming of age. Phenomenal.

Massive Attack -‘Safe From Harm.’ mp3

Massive Attack -‘Unfinished Sympathy.’ mp3

Ten for the nineties…1991*

Ah…1991. School was rubbish, the UK got involved in a war in Iraq (plus ca change la meme chose etc..) and the UK recession bit. How times change. Bryan Adams was no.1 for sixteen weeks with the theme for a film about Robin Hood that showed Kevin Costner doing an appalling English accent -‘Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.’ Music, yet again, would save us. Depending on what got through, of course. Bizarrely, songs not played during the time of the Gulf War were ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ by Elton John, the Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ and Lulu’s ‘Boom-bang-a-bang.’ The Cure’s ‘Killing An Arab’ didn’t make the blacklist though. In the middle of all this, there was the incongruous sight of the Clash getting a no.1 with the re-issued ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’

I have to admit, this track didn’t do much for me in 1991, but over the course of the decade, it and parent album Blue Lines grew on me. It was actually credited to Massive, rather than Massive Attack, being as the name was considered inappropriate at the time of the Gulf War. This track is without a doubt my favourite track of the last twenty years.

Massive -‘ Unfinished Sympathy.’

A few weeks ago, a twelve year old started trying to tell me abuot when Nirvana first appeared on Top of the Pops. ‘You don’t have to tell me,’ I explained ‘I was watching it, I know!’ But that’s the thing: for my generation he was the one who pushed open the door for alternative music into the mainstream; for another generation after us, he’s an icon of doomed youth. Perhaps it’s how people in their fourties feel when i ask them about their experiences of the punk days. Ah well…

Nirvana -‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’

Hello to shoegazing (part 1). Curve were one of those names I would gaze it in the indie chart each week, wondering how I could even get to hear their music -the likelihood of hearing it on daytime Radio 1 was slim, and I had no access to MTV, and filesharing meant something different in 1991. Eventually I heard them – bought a cassette single of ‘Coast Is Clear’ and was not disappointed. This was the debut single though, featuring the man who held the record for many years for being the world’s fastest rapper – ‘JC 001.’

Curve -‘Ten Little Girls’

In which the world of shoegazing meets goth (see also the Cocteau Twins). By 1991, Siouxsie and the Banshees were pretty much the elder statesmenandwoman of the ‘indie-alternative’ spectrum, but I still carried a torch for them that I had done since I saw ‘Candyman’ as a nineyear old on Top of the Pops. This song was prime Banshees, even if parent album Superstition wasn’t. As shoegazing and baggy battled it out (well, sorta), the instrumental break seemed to bear more than a passing resemblance to Chapterhouse’s single of the same time ‘Pearl.’

Siouxsie and the Banshees -‘Kiss Them For Me.’

It’s a truth not generally acknowledged that there was a successful pre-Britpop indie scene, that dind’t involve Shoegazing necessarily, but did make it onto Top Of The Pops, Smash Hits and quite often daytime Radio 1. The Wonderstuff were one of those bands, along with Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Jesus Jones, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine who often did rather well. This was their biggest hit as band (not involving covers and Vic Reeves).

Wonderstuff -‘Size Of A Cow.’

This song got me from the off: ‘Says she won;t be forced against her will/says she don’t do drugs but she does the pill.’ sufficiently parent-baiting, I hoped. I still have a spot for the Fanclub but I kinda preferred them when they were mashing up Big Star and Dinsoaur Jr, rather than the Neil Young of the scottish west coast which started setting in about 1997.

Teenage Fanclub -‘The Concept.’

It has been said about many of the pre-britpop bands that they made more money selling T-shirts than records, but they did have hits too. This song got Carter onto the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party in October 1991. The show might have passed off without incident had host Philip Schofield then muttred an insensitive gag about thier haircuts…see “>here. heh heh…My little brother and I were there, having won tickets, and we sorta saw it, but it was only completely clear when we got home and wathced the video afterwards…

Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine -‘After The watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way).

*Would be here also: REM -‘Losing My Religion’; Billy Bragg ‘Sexuality.’ Problems with what is available on YouTube at the moment.

Peel Festive Fifty Favourites Volume ??

John Peel with Laura Cantrell, 2004

I’ve got to say, I’ve been very impressed with the amount of feedback I’ve been getting over the last few weeks since I started doing the Peel Festive Fifty posts. It’s great, and I just wish that when I posted about new music I got the same response (did no-one like the Vampire Weekend tracks?)

Anyway, here are another ten;

Gregory Isaacs -‘Nightnurse.’ mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.52)

Butthole Surfers -’22 Going On 23.’ mp3 (1987 Festive Fifty no.44)

Public Enemy -‘Night Of the Living Baseheads.’ mp3 (1988 Festive Fifty no.50)

Mighty Lemon Drops -‘Like An Angel.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.34)

Helen Love -‘Does Your Heart Go Boom.’ mp3 (1997 Festive Fifty no.3)

White Town -‘Your Woman.’ mp3 (1996 Festive Fifty no.31)

Marine Research -‘Parallel Horizontal.’ mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.47)

Nina Nastasia -‘Ugly Face.’ mp3 (2002 Festive Fifty no.4)

Aztec Camera -‘Oblivious.’ mp3 (1983 Festive Fifty no.29)

Massive Attack -‘Teardrop.’ mp3 (1998 Festive Fifty no.21)

Hope you like them, and leave feedback!