A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (12)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON THURSDAY 8 MAY 2008

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Another entry where few words are really needed.

I’ve loads of Tracey Thorn records, dating back to her time with The Marine Girls, as a solo artist and of course with Everything But The Girl.

But she has never sounded better than on this:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Protection (LP version)

No point in me repeating what I’ve said previously about dance acts/dance music and how I’m not well-enough qualified to comment with much conviction.

But somehow I’ve never really regarded Massive Attack as a dance-band – particularly when thinking about their best singles. If the one song per artist rule in this chart didn’t exist, then Teardrop would be in here. Both songs are equally gorgeous, haunting, unique and unforgettable. But in my mind, Tracey shades it over Elizabeth Fraser.

Why?

I think its because Protection is one of the best lyrics ever recorded by a female artist – its full of conviction, passion, love and strength without ever falling into the trap of being soppy or maudlin.

There was also a brilliant and imaginative video made for Protection.

Incidentally, strictly rockers would have had no idea that this was due up next in this rundown; it is one of life’s great coincidences that it follows on so soon after his ICA double-header.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #76 : MASSIVE ATTACK

a guest posting from strictly rockers

Girl

You’re A Boy… And I’m A Girl’:

A Massive Attack Imaginary Compilation Album In Two Parts

Part Two: ‘… And I’m A Girl’

01) Safe From Harm w/ Shara Nelson (From Blue Lines, 1991)

Spine-tingling. With opening atmospherics reminiscent of The Special’s ‘Ghost Town’, that bassline from Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’ and stunning vocal from Shara, this track fuels Richard King’s journey through Bristol in his excellent ‘Original Rockers’ book. ‘I was lookin’ back to see if you were looking’ back at me to see me looking’ back at you’

02) Paradise Circus w/ Hope Sandoval (From Heligoland, 2010)

A majestic vocal from the Mazzy Star vocalist. Once again, neither party met each other until after the recording. It features a drum sample from Nina Simone’s ‘See Line Woman’ and was used as the theme to BBC1’s ‘Luther’. Also available in excellent Gui Boratto and super-extended Burial mixes.

03) Three w/ Nicolette (From Protection, 1994)

Great vocals from the singer described as ‘Billie Holiday on acid’. Almost tempted to include Mad Professor’s bubbling’ ‘Trinity Dub’ version.

04) Better Things w/ Tracey Thorn (From Protection, 1994)

In my mind, far superior to ‘Protection’. ‘You say the magic’s gone. Well i’m not a magician. You say the spark’s gone. Well get an electrician’ Just genius!

05) Group Four w/ Elizabeth Fraser (From Mezzanine, 1998)

Equal to, if not better than ‘Teardrop’ from Massive Attack’s most successful album. Often stretched out live as a storming set-closer.

06) Babel w/ Martina Topley-Bird (From Heligoland, 2010)

A ‘teenage love song’ from Tricky’s Mercury Prize nominated Maxinquaye muse.

07) What Yr Soul Sings w/ Sinead O’Connor (From 100th Window, 2003)

Soaring. Heavenly. One of three Sinead tracks on 100th Window. I could have picked any of ’em.

08) Endtrack (Dissolved Girl) w/ Sara Jay (Download, 1997)

Featuring a previously unknown singer from Sheffield who toured with MA. This is an early demo version of ‘Dissolved Girl’ as heard as part of ‘The Jackal’ soundtrack. Later re-recorded as part of Mezzanine.

09) Aftersun w/ Dot Allison (Download, 2005)

Former One Dove singer and MA live vocalist on this powerful song tucked away as the credits roll on ‘Danny The Dog’. Shamefully omitted from the soundtrack album and only available as digital release from dotallison.com.

10) Unfinished Sympathy w/ Shara Nelson (Single, 1991)

Just magnificent. Officially voted the 63rd greatest song of all time in NME poll! The second appearance of Shara Nelson in this compilation with that sweeping orchestration arranged by Will Malone and recorded at Abbey Road. Mrs Rockers says, that if forced, she would pick this as ‘our tune’. Sweet eh? (We’ll just gloss over the atrocious Tina Turner cover from 1996)

(Big Name Bonus) I Want You w/ Madonna (From Something To Remember, 1995)

Huge-sounding production as Madonna & Massive Attack take on the mighty Marvin. Vocals recorded in New York with 3D before returning to Bristol. She was so impressed with the results that it became the lead single from her ‘Something To Remember’ album. Rumour has it that the backing tracks were originally intended for Chaka Khan.

 

BONUS………………………Boys vs Girls EP

Massive Attack Remixes, Remixed & Covered

EP

1) Protection (Eno Mix) Massive Attack (Single, 1994)

I couldn’t NOT include this, the song that gives this ICA it’s title. Mr Ambient does what he does best and stretches this atmospheric beauty to over 9 minutes.

2) Teardrop (Mad Professor Mazaruni Dub) Massive Attack (Single, 1998)

The Prof’s laid back dub somehow makes the vocal even more powerful by reducing it to its most basic elements.

3) Musst Musst (Massive Attack Duck Pond Dub) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Single, 1990)

As featured on Daddy G’s excellent DJ Kicks mix. He called it ‘the most enjoyable remix we’ve ever done.’

4) Manchild (Massive Attack Remix) Neneh Cherry (Remix 12″, 1989)

Stripped-down, minimal mix of the single co-written by 3D. ‘Remix… Massive Attack’

5) Live With Me Twilight Singers (From A Stitch In Time EP, 2006)

Greg Dulli & Mark Lanegan take the original to a much darker place.

6) Unfinished Sympathy Maxene Cyrin (From Modern Rhapsodies, 2005)

Simple, effective & delicate. Reduces the original to a bare minimum. Just beautiful.

JC adds……

I’ll sign off with the TVV word of the week.

Wow.

 

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #75 : MASSIVE ATTACK

A guest posting from strictly rockers

Boy

Can I just start by saying how grateful I am to JC for letting me impose once again on his amazing blog. Having now done a handful of these ICAs, I have renewed admiration for him as he continually produces quality content daily, without fail. It’s hard enough getting the material together for one every few months, let alone every day! So, please raise a mug of whatever in gratitude to JC. I only hope this bulky what has been split into a two-parter lives up to T(n)VV’s high standard.

Massive Attack were formed from the ashes of The Wild Bunch sound system, a loose collective name-checked by Neneh Cherry on ‘Buffalo Stance’ (‘Looking good, hanging with the Wild Bunch. Looking good in a Buffalo Stance’). They recorded a couple of 12″s, including one that contained a cover of Bacharach & David‘s ‘The Look Of Love’ sung by a young singer called Shara Nelson (introduced to them by On-U Sound’s Adrian Sherwood). They split in the late eighties forming Soul II Soul in London and Massive Attack in Bristol.

With money, encouragement and studio space donated by Neneh Cherry and husband Cameron McVey (Booga Bear) work began on what would become ‘Blue Lines’ using singers from the Wild Bunch days (Tony Bryan, Shara Nelson & Tricky) and veteran reggae legend, Horace Andy. The original trio of 3D, Daddy G & Mushroom dispersed leaving only 3D trading as Massive Attack with a floating collective during the ‘100th Window’ sessions although Daddy G has since returned to both touring and studio work.

Their successful collaborative blueprint has been adopted by groups such as UNKLE & Gorillaz, both of which have strong links back to Massive Attack. 3D providing the artwork for the seminal Mo’Wax ‘Headz’ compilation (1994) and vocals on UNKLE’s ‘War Stories‘. Damon Albarn sings in character as 2D (an obvious nod to his friend) and has appeared on both ‘100th Window’ & ‘Heligoland‘.

Growing up in Bristol in the 1980s, I revelled in the city’s rich musical heritage and soaked up the reggae, soul, hip-hop and new wave played during my lunchtime browsing sessions in Revolver Records (incidentally, the workplace of one Grantley Marshall AKA Daddy G).

Mark Stewart, The Pop Group & Pigbag, The Blue Aeroplanes & Maximum Joy, The Brilliant Corners & The Flatmates, Talisman, Restriction & Black Roots. To my young, music-hungry ears, it was just great music. No genres, no labels. It could be a ‘Bristol thing’ but there seems to me to be a similar open-house music policy in Massive Attack.

As 3D has said: ‘We all grew up listening to punk & funk and those attitudes sort of snuck into our music. That sort of brought people from different circles together…’ Through them I have discovered, and come to appreciate many artists that I wouldn’t normally have encountered. Billy Cobham, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, William DeVaughan, Wally Badarou, Isaac Hayes, the list goes on.

Another key ingredient in the success of Massive Attack is their inspired use of vocalists, be it relatively unknowns (Tricky, Shara, Nicolette) or established voices benefiting from being moved from their usual musical world (Tracey Thorn, Elizabeth Fraser, Horace Andy, Terry Callier).

This ICA is all about those collaborators, the individuals that enrich the Massive Attack melting pot. Please enjoy responsibly.

‘You’re A Boy… And I’m A Girl’:

A Massive Attack Imaginary Compilation Album In Two Parts

Part One: ‘You’re A Boy…’

01) Any Love w/ Carlton (Single, 1988)

Massive Attack’s debut as a production trio in 1988. A cover of the Chaka Khan song with falsetto-voiced singer-songwriter Carlton McCarthy, co-produced by Bristol legends Smith & Mighty. Pointlessly re-recorded for the Massive Attack EP (1991) with vocals by Tony Bryan.

02) Be Thankful for What You’ve Got w/ Tony Bryan (From Blue Lines, 1991)

Speaking of whom… this brilliant cover of the classic William DeVaughan track from Blue Lines was also available in pitched-up ‘funky’ form for the US market.

03) Karmacoma w/ Tricky (Portishead Experience) (Single, 1995)

A mighty ‘Bristol scene’ supergroup with Massive, Tricky & Portishead (+ a large dose of Serge Gainsbourg). Just excellent. So good, in fact, that Tricky recycled the lyrics for his own ‘Overcome’

04) I Against I w/ Mos Def (Single, 2002)

MA’s music has always had a widescreen feel, so it seemed natural to move into film soundtracks. This slamming collaboration was a free download from massiveattack.com and featured in ‘Blade 2’.

05) Calling Mumia w/ Snoop Dogg (Download, 2007)

Officially credited to 100 Suns (3D with producer Neil Davidge) this was featured in the film ‘In Prison My Whole Life’ (which also features Mos Def) and, like ‘I Against I’, was composed with no direct contact between the two parties.

06) Man Next Door w/ Horace Andy (Single, 1999)

Brooding cover of the John Holt classic by the legend that is Horace Andy. Great samples of both The Cure’s ’10:15 Saturday Night’ & Led Zep’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’. Famously used at the 2000 Tory party conference heralding the entrance of William Hague. What were they thinking?

07) Saturday Come Slow w/ Damon Albarn (From Heligoland, 2009)

From the collaborator-rich ‘Heligoland’. A beautiful, pastoral slice of electronic folk about the ‘limestone caves of the south-west land’. Featuring Adrian Utley of Portishead on guitar. Ironically, the accompanying video explores the use of music as torture.

08) Live With Me w/ Terry Callier (Single, 2006)

Initially planned for inclusion on a soundtrack project that never materialised. A haunting love song with vocals from the late, great soul singer Terry Callier. Recalling the early MA sound, according to 3D: ‘It shuts those up who believe we can’t replicate our first album.’

09) Dead Editors w/ Roots Manuva (From Ritual Spirit EP, 2016)

Featuring a sample of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’, Roots Manuva fits perfectly into the Massive Attack universe. The EP also sees the return of Tricky on a Massive Attack record for the first time in 22 years (How old does that make you feel?).

10) Five Man Army w/ Willie Wee, 3D, Tricky, Daddy G & Horace Andy (From Blue Lines, 1991)

Starting with a sample from ‘I’m Glad You’re Mine’ by Al Green, this recalls their early sound-system days, with former Wild Bunch members freestyling over the Dillinger/Trinity classic ‘Five Man Dub’. Horace Andy fades out the jam by singing the titles of his hits… ‘Cuss Cuss’, ‘Money Money’ & ‘Skylarking’.

(Big-Name Bonus) Nature Boy w/ Bowie (From Moulin Rouge OST, 2001)

‘One more tune…’ Keen to have both Massive Attack and Bowie connected with his film, Baz Luhrmann made this collaboration possible although the two parties never actually met. The vocals were recorded in New York and sent to Bristol with all correspondence by email. Bowie was apparently ‘totally pleased’ with the results.

JC adds……

the mp3s can be listened to by clicking on the song titles above.  Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

SEE ME RUN NOW YOU’RE GONE….DREAM ON

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I was someone who didn’t pay much attention to Massive Attack in terms of their singles. In an era when CD albums were in the region of £12-£15 and singles were usually £4, it didn’t make much sense unless you were something of an uber-fan to buy the singles.

I picked up a copy of the album Mezzanine not longer after its release in April 1998, partly on the back of having really enjoyed the previous album Protection, but partly as I adored what I thought had been its lead-off single Teardrop featuring a stunning vocal from Elizabeth Fraser.   The fact that there had been an earlier advance single as far back as August 1997 had totally passed me by and indeed until I saw a copy in a second-hand store a few months back I had always thought the record label had missed out on the chance of releasing what I felt was one of many stand out tracks from the album:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson

In fact, the single had reached #11 in the charts which really shows how little attention I had been paying.  The CD single came with two more than decent remixes along with a different track which was like finding treasure at the end of the rainbow:-

mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (The Underdog remix)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Risingson (Otherside)
mp3 : Massive Attack – Superpredators (The Mad Professor Remix)

My favourite Siousxie & The Banshees song is Metal Postcard…..and that’s the very song which is heavily sampled to make Superpredators.

Enjoy.