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on 2 July 2008
There's a bit of a Bristol revival at the moment what with Massive Attack curating this year's Meltdown festival and new albums from Portishead and Tricky's first muse Martina Topley-Bird. Adrian Thaws to give him his proper name, a leading light of the nineties 'trip-hop' scene, has struggled to reach the heights of his début Maxinquaye with subsequent releases, and whilst he doesn't quite manage it with his latest either it is certainly his strongest material since then. He's enlisted plenty of support along the way and the album has an eclectic mix of sounds but most gratifying to hear, from one who potentially could have disappeared into an apathetic haze of spliff smoke, is some real creative energy being thrown at things.

Nowhere is this energy more prevalent than on the first single Council Estate about which Tricky said 'Council Estate is just me... that song is the upbringing me and friends had. It's the first single I've ever done with just me on vocals. I couldn't whisper that song. I had to come out of myself and do a loud, screaming vocal. I wanted to be a proper front man on that one.' And boy, is he. It's a furious number, just over two and half minutes of competing sounds but with humour in its refrain of 'Remember boy, you're a superstar'. The next track Past Mistake is fantastic, very reminiscent of his past glories with a gorgeous female vocal from Lubua (an ex-girlfriend). She also features on the album closer School Gates which tells the (true) story of a teenage pregnancy and is another highlight. Puppy Toy is a bluesy bar room brawler. Coalition is an angry track about war in the modern world underscored by fractured strings (which reminded me of Faultline's album Closer Colder) as Tricky intones 'You can get your happy meal/In your happy car/You can make more money, more money/But here you are'. The album also contains one of the most unlikely cover versions in Slow which Tricky fleshes out with guitars and his own insistent vocal, injecting much more feeling and urgency than Kylie's anaemic original.

These are just my favourites. There's also ragga and rock as well as rap and more female vocals to enjoy. The albums eclecticism may be the problem but it's a much better problem to have than a lack of imagination. Rappers often talk about "keepin' it real" and "goin' back to the streets" but at the age of 40, in looking back at his past in Bristol, the Knowle West Boy has shown there's a real chance of a bright musical future.
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on 9 July 2008
I have been an avid follower of Tricky since Maxinquaye, which most people deem his finest moment. Although I do think Maxinquaye is a great album I really feel Tricky began maturing with Blowback and Vulnerable, he has been finding his feet and losing that hit and miss approach, creating an instantly recognisable 'Tricky' sound, and at the same time sticking two fingers up to those that wanted Maxinquaye MKII.

This album see Tricky creating more disjointed beats and bleeps, low growls and sweet females, mixing political rants (Coalition) against long forgotten teenage angst (School Gates).

I know every release is touted as a return to form but this album is truly the strongest material he has ever released, its not easy listening and those wanting Bristolian coffee table trip hop should go elsewhere. Its Tricky and Tricky only.

He even provides another slightly odd cover, this time Kylie Minogues 'Slow'

If you dont believe me try Coalition and Cross To Bear... wonderful...
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2008
Few artists can manage to make music that veers from maverick left field commerciality to the outer limits of miscreant self indulgence. While he's to be applauded in theory for the latter the results have usually made me want to clap my hands over my ears rather than bring them together in appreciation. Thankfully Knowles West Boy( named after the area in Bristol where he grew up ) his first album for five years see's Tricky return in many ways to the more mercantile material of his seminal debut Maxinquaye.
Not that this album can be classed as the trip -hop of that in some ways millstone of an album. Knowles West Boy covers ragga - "Baligaga" and "Bacative" with Rodigan on vocals, Grinderman type sweaty rock with "C, Mon Baby" , a curious and fascinating folk/country , urban opera hybrid with "School Gates" while opening track "Puppy Toy" is a playful piano led duet with Alex Mills alternating between Lily Allen style observations and Christina Aguilera vocal pyrotechnics.s .
Other guest vocalists see ex-girlfriend Lubna on "Past Mistake "- the song that most easily invokes his past -with widescreen keyboards over deliberate percussion and woozy vocals underpinned by Tricky,s mumbling. It's great . So is Veronika with steely vocals by errr Veronika over itchy backing and precise subterranean percussion. "Council Estate" throws a curve ball by starting off like Portisheads "Roads" before turning all urgent and raspy like Renegade Soundwave crossed with "Xtrmntr " period Primal Scream. "Cross To Bear" is a far more delicate number with adroitly picked acoustic notes , scraping strings and a lovely keening vocal from Hafdis. "Far Away" centring on an addictive and rather funky string arrangement and rasping guitar even nods to the dance floor. "Joseph" with an unnamed busker on vocals is a pretty acoustic ballad of strangely magnetic power.
The cover of Kylies "Slow" is a mis-step because it's done so straight- a radical slowed f***ed up version would have been far more interesting and "Coalition" is just a tedious mush of beats and effects. Personally though I think the quality outweighs the dross on this album. There are half a dozen tracks that will always be welcome on my MP3 player and while some of the songs have to catch me in the right mood -the ragga ones for instance- they are not as irritating as a lot of ragga can be..apologies to any hardcore ragga fans .
I suspect , indeed I know from reading some reviews that Knowles West Boy is considered too playful and colourful by many . It lacks the depth and sonic innovation of his greatest stuff but it is , for the most part ,hugely enjoyable..... A substantial treat in fact. I see nothing wrong with that. Indeed far better this than some un-listenable elitist miscible tripe that gives a select few and superior critics major hard-ons but baffles the rest of us.
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on 25 July 2008
This is classic Tricky - forget trip-hop, portishead, MA blah blah blah labels - if you find some connection with Tricky's previous material, for whatever reason, you'll enjoy listening to this latest offering.
Personally, I hope Tricky will continue to produce material like this, which has his trademark sound all over it.
Another reviewer commented 'same old previously trodden path' - well, yeah - but the path is long and hopefully there's plenty more miles to walk.
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on 26 December 2012
Tricky's eighth studio album "Knowle West Boy" is an ode to Trip-Hop as the album comprises many different styles and influences he has used throughout his solo career. His music has never sounded so creative and inspiring as on this set. His main focus on this album is to draw the listener in to his world and he manages to do just that through these thirteen very varied and dynamic compositions.

"Puppy Toy" has a great chorus and is a very hip sounding track with elements of Blues, Rock and Soul. "Bacative" is much more Ragga influenced and has a stronger Trip-Hop vibe whilst "Joseph" is pure atmospheric Trip-Hop and "Veronika" is much more Electronica influenced. "C'mon Baby" combines elements of Soul and Rock to create quite a raw and intriguing sound which defines Tricky and his collaborators. The lead single "Council Estate" is a very explosive Rock and Rap influenced song with an addictive feel to it. "Past Mistake" is a dark and atmospheric song with disturbing beats and vocals. "Coalition" is another hypnotic track with creative sounds and interesting choices in instrumentation. "Cross To Bear" is the most appealing song for me with haunting vocals and violins layered over a beautiful melody. The very hyper cover of Kylie Minogue's "Slow" is very cool and makes the already very accomplished original version sound very tame indeed. "Baligaga" is another Ragga inspired song with elements of Jazz Funk. "Far Away" has an endearing hypnotic Pop Rock feel to it whilst the final track "School Gates" has a much more acoustic Blues guitar vibe.

"Knowle West Boy" is Tricky's most interesting release to date. The blend of styles and genres on this album combined with the uniqueness and raw talent allow this collection of songs to flow together as a whole. Trip-Hop has never sounded so vibrant and enthusiastic, yet so disturbing and dark - utterly brilliant.
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on 13 August 2008
This album is amazing whether you are a Tricky fan or not. After seeing him perform two tracks from this album on Later with Jools i couldn't wait for it's release! I wasn't disappointed. If this album was only half as good i still wouldn't have been. It's got everything. Council Estate has an energy i haven't heard or felt since Punk and Two Tone were born. Puppy Toy is a really strong song - it's funny too! Veronika is Powerful because of it's starkness and the lyrics, and it grows on you. C'mon Baby is one of my favourites becouse it's so catchy without being naff and has great lyrics! Buy This Album if you're a fan, try it if you're not!
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on 1 February 2010
Although I already own Maxinquaye and Vulnerable, I didn't have the urge to rush out and buy this until I had chance to listen or check out reviews. Then I was given it for Christmas and it has definitely got me! After a couple of plays I was hooked and it's growing. Now glad that I didn't read any reviews before hearing it, I'm not going to try and analyse as others have, or compare, just to say I love the mix of ragga, soul, rap, wonderful moody vocals and intelligent lyrics. It's powerful and sensitive and no-one else does it quite like Tricky.
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on 13 July 2014
Always love Tricky
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on 12 June 2015
tanks :)
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on 14 July 2008
Nothing here that hasn't been done before. If this is Tricky exorcising his demons, then plenty have done better. This is the sound of fury, signifying nothing, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Before you know it, this album is over. It's just a wash of sonics, with no discernible purpose other than to satisfy some need within Tricky's oeuvre. This is the sound of the middle-aged man trying to sound valuable in his decline. Some people need to be told that when it's over, it's over (refer Bowie, Scott Walker, and all those others "stiff on their legends").
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