Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Massive Attack
Blue Lines

Released 1991 on Circa/Virgin
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 02/03/2001ce

The 1990’s released a slew of new musical genres onto the world (Indie Rock, Techno/Rave, Emo-core, Post-Rock, Breakbeat, Slow-core, Jungle/Drum N’ Bass, Lounge/Swing Revival, Gangsta Rap, Grunge, Dancehall, Shoegazer/Dreampop) but none were as intriguing to me personally (other than Shoegazer/Dreampop) as the musical style called “Trip-Hop.” What is Trip Hop? Basically Hip Hop with an eerie, surreal, disorienting (yes, nearly “psychedelic”) vibe to it. And the Elvis-Beatles-Sex Pistols of this category is a UK group called Massive Attack. And Blue Lines is not only their classic debut but practically the Trip Hop answer to Revolver or at least Forever Changes.

When somebody told me that the 1990’s finally arrived when Blue Lines dropped I almost didn’t believe it. Yet after hearing it a few times you can hear why so many miss this genre. This killer, addictive hybrid of Dub Reggae, Movie Soundtrack and Drum Break Sampling, Hip Hop D.J. Turntable scratching with rapping, singing and Jamaican Toasting was totally unheard of before and is still
completely unique. No matter what Massive Attack throws in the mix here Blue Lines NEVER loses its cool, strange, danceable edge. “Safe From Harm” brings in cool chanteuse Shara Nelson (who could give Sade a few lessons in singing) over a slow funky sample of Jazz drummer Billy Cobham’s classic “Stratus.” “Five
Man Army” brings in Tricky (yes THAT Tricky. He was down with Massive before he got famous) and main rapper 3D to rap and ends with classic Reggae singer Horace Andy to scream about how money is the root of all evil yet never loses anthemic Reggae stride. “Unfinished Sympathy” brings back Shara for a classic torch
ballad over heavy break beats and a brooding violin section. Main rapper 3D is the perfect M.C. for this type of music (even though he’s not on Blue Lines that much.) His rhyme skills here are more like whispering gruffly.

This funky juggernaut rolls on so effortlessly you’re amazed at how varied the sounds and tempos provided on this trip are. This is one of the discs that turned Hip Hop from Party to Head Music and the world has never been the same since. Call it what you want - Trip Hop, Rap Music for the Introspective, Hip Hop for Shut-Ins,
whatever. Blue Lines broke old laws and wrote new ones to create a new timeless musical experience.

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