While C+C Music Factory was doing their thing in New York, Bristol’s Massive Attack was inventing a sound that, though labeled “trip-hop” years later, was pure, unadulterated soul, a culmination of American black music filtered through European dance culture. Blue Lines is an impeccable amalgam of house, R&B, and hip-hop, transplanting blues into slick, electronic pop packages like the classic “Unfinished Sympathy” (singer Shara Nelson laments: “Like a soul without a mind/In a body without a heart/I’m missing every part”). Reggae legend Horace Andy lends his skills to the uplifting anthem “Hymn of the Big Wheel” and the dub-infused “Five Man Army” yet Massive Attack can certainly hold their own. The sublime “Daydreaming” is an ode to the beat, 3D-Del Naja’s cool rhymes interwoven with those of a then-unknown Tricky Kid. The album’s title track nimbly alternates between samples of “Slippin’ in the Back Door” and James Brown’s “Give It Up or Turn It Loose,” creating a rich, recycled tapestry on which the group lays its tight rhythms and live bass guitar. While resistant to categorization, Massive Attack are the undisputed godfathers of trip-hop and Blue Lines remains the genre’s most influential masterpiece.
- Release Date
- November 2, 1991
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: