Massive Attack – Blue Lines – 20 Years On

Many albums which seem innovative and original quickly become dated. However, if you can make an album which still sounds fresh and modern two decades after its release you’re definitely onto a winner.

Massive Attack’s groundbreaking Blue Lines album was released this month back in 1991, but just one listen to this iconic CD and you wouldn’t think its 20 years old.

One of the album’s most recognisable songs is the haunting Unfinished Sympathy, which is often voted one of the best songs of all time in various polls and surveys. The song wasn’t just influential musically, its music video featuring vocalist Shara Nelson walking through Los Angeles was one of the earliest videos to use one continuous shot.

How to define Massive Attack’s music was something that music journos over the world struggled with, before eventually coining the phrase “trip-hop”, something the group hated according to Grant Marshall aka Daddy G. In an interview in 2006, he said: “You know, as far we were concerned, Massive Attack music was unique, so to put it in a box was to pigeonhole it and to say, ‘Right, we know where you guys are coming from.’ And we didn’t know where we were coming from half the time.”

Following Blue Lines, they band have continued to produce experimental albums, with various members of the group leaving at certain points and a mixture of guest vocalists helping to make their cutting edge sound. They’ve also continued to be at the forefront of coming up with unique music videos, one of the most memorable being the video for Teardrop from Mezzanine which features a singing foetus.

And their lasting influence? Any number of groups in various genres would cite Massive Attack as a key influence, and being able to produce innovative album after innovative album means that you never know what to expect from their next offering so they’re always keeping their fans on their toes.

If you haven’t already, check out our ‘paying homage’ piece to Massive Attack, a polo-shirt inspired by Blue Lines.

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