Blue Lines: 2012 Remix/Remaster
Dec 21, 2012 Web Exclusive
Seasons 4-8 of The Simpsons aside, it's hard to think of much from the '90s that has aged well: Britpop, Saved by the Bell, shell suits, and Liverpool Football Club have ignominiously slid from pop culture icons into figures of fun since the turn of the millennium; even the laugh track on Seinfeld sounds dated now. Trip-hop, the potpourri mashup of genres formed in Bristol, England at the start of the decade, is often mentioned in the same breath as the above; however this rerelease of Blue Lines, one of the defining works of the movement along with Portishead's Dummy, is the ultimate silencer to such glibness.
Whilst Massive Attack's defining work was never in danger of sounding stale even 21 years after originally hitting record stores, this stunning remaster gives it a freshness that reminds the listener of just how prescient they sounded when they first hit England's consciousness. Who would ever have thought that the glorious "Unfinished Sympathy," for example, could sound even more crisp and flawless? This is a reminder of the first steppingstone for hip-hop to bridge over into the world of chill-out electronica and even soulful rock: it's no exaggeration to say that without Massive Attack there may have been no starting point for artists as diverse as OutKast, The xx, and TV on the Radio.
It may be stating the obvious to say so, but the music world in 2012 is very different from that into which Blue Lines was originally born: back in 1991, the world was still reeling from the likes of Public Enemy and N.W.A., so to take hip-hop in such a wildly different direction back then took some balls. Today though, with the skyline dominated by the likes of Kanye West and Plan B on their respective sides of the Atlantic, to hear this genuinely groundbreaking group in such magnificent high definition is probably the closest we're going to get to going back to any of today's megastar's roots. (www.massiveattack.com)
Author rating: 9.5/10
Average reader rating: 5/10