Massive Attack. The name says it all. This is the band that started trip-hop. Even though they didn’t aim to when Robert Del Naja (“3D”), Grant Marshall (“Daddy G”), Andrew Vowles (“Mushroom) and, of course, the serpent voiced Adrian Thawes (better known to the world as Tricky), having formed after branching off of the popular Bristol DJ collective known as the Wild Bunch, released their first single “Any Love” in 1988. Three years later, they dropped their debut LP Blue Lines to much critical acclaim, having solidified itself as one of the most important albums of the past 20 years. Their hybrid of dub, ambient, hip-hop, jazz, and classical and an array of other sonic delicacies had made them a household name with to just about any music aficionado. Collected, a twin disc assortment of Massive Attack’s most brilliant tracks spanning their career, mixes up the group’s singles through the years, while most “best of” albums tend to sequence the tracks from earliest to most recent. All in all, it makes a great “trip” through the past.
Of course, Collected does open up with “Safe From Harm” featuring frequent vocal contributor Shara Nelson as does “Unfinished Sympathy” which was the first track to get the press to coin the phrase “Bristol Sound” followed by the heady and firm flowing “Karmacoma,” which showcased Massive Attack’s penchant for smoothing over their tracks with the primer of a minimal tribal-like Middle Eastern droning, as does the piecemeal “Inertia Creeps.”
“Angel” and “Teardrop,” both featuring Horace Andy and Elizabeth Fraser respectively, probably amounted to the group’s most lowering crescendos. “Risingson” contains a subtle booming as well as excerpts from the 1970 Velvet Underground number “I Found a Reason.” Sinead O’ Conner shines on the pinging “What Your Soul Sings” as does Chicago soul man Terry Callier on “Live with Me”
Disc 2 is a dual disc with one side serving as a DVD showcase for sixteen music videos, including the one for “Protection” directed by Michael Gondry with the CD side lining up a slew of rarities and tunes from soundtracks such as “I Against I” with Mos Def and “I Want You” with Madonna. All in all this is a good starting point for any new Massive Attack fan, not to mention a compilation which is long overdue. A piece of advice to whoever chose these tracks: Be sure to include “Spying Glass” on the next compilation!!
Howie B – Folk
Various Artists – 187 Soundtrack
Spacek – Curvatia