It’s not always a pleasure to delve back into your musical past and listen to those albums you thought were so cool.
Too often it’s a descent into a cultural abyss that reveals you had no taste and an alarming propensity towards pretension.
Not so with Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’ which was re-released last month.
First issued 21 years ago, it followed the long tradition of American Music arriving on the shores of Britain only to be swiftly reinterpreted into something almost entirely new, in this case transforming hip-hop to trip hop (although that term was not coined until several years after the album was made).
One thing I’ve not read too much about in reviews of the album is the importance of the place that spawned the album. Bristol is a sleepy West Country town surrounded by some of the countries most beautiful countryside. This bucolic atmosphere seeps into the album giving it this lazy, slowed down tempo.
It contrasts perfectly with the clearly urban style of its contributors. From Jamaican singer Horace Andy’s hi falsetto warble to Sharon Nelson’s deep soul croon to Tricky’s UK rapping.
The album is also an exemplary example of how to assimilate varying cultural perceptions of the world into gently simmering pot of goodness.
Musical forms that might seem to be at odds with one another like rap, Jamaican toasting and soul are woven together with imagination and intelligence. Indeed intelligence is a key word in the description of this meditative album. There’s a smartness to many of the lyrics in particular ‘Hymn to the Big Wheel’ a peon to the oppressed in what would then be called the developing world and a plea to end the environmental damage that has been destroying the world for the last 50 years.
As one of it’s creators Daddy G said Blue Lines is ‘dance music for the head’