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Blue Lines

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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45 new from £2.75 63 used from £0.01 1 collectible from £3.99
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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jun. 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B000000WHX
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  Mini-Disc  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,867 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Safe From Harm
  2. One Love
  3. Blue Lines
  4. Be Thankful For What You've Got
  5. Five Man Army
  6. Unfinished Sympathy
  7. Daydreaming
  8. Lately
  9. Hymn Of The Big Wheel

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

The critical and commercial triumphs of Portishead, Tricky and Roni Size have established Bristol as a centre of slow-burning creativity, but it was the staggering impact Massive Attack made with their debut album which first put the West Country town on the musical map and made reluctant superstars of Mushroom, 3-D and Daddy G. Blue Lines provided a blueprint for the sound which would become known as trip-hop, combining the raw soundsystem vibe of the Wild Bunch parties with immaculate production and the distinguished vocal talents of Tricky, Shara Nelson and Horace Andy. From the understated beats and deftly-arranged ensemble rapping of the title track to the smokey paranoia of "Five Man Army" and the unrepeatable melancholic splendour of "Unfinished Sympathy", the album is a modern classic through and through. It won the Mercury Music Prize in 1992 and remains the finest work of a frighteningly talented group. --Ed Potton

BBC Review

Twenty years on from this landmark album’s release and its makers are very much a part of the mainstream, an outfit comfortably capable of selling out the nation’s biggest venues and with enough column inches of acclaim behind them to build a (rather flimsy, granted) ladder to the Moon. But at the time, Massive Attack were purveyors of a sound so new that it didn’t have a pigeonhole to fits its form – trip hop would not be coined for another few years, and this mash-up of dub, rap, reggae and soul caught attentions like few other releases of the time. It didn’t so much hold one by the collar as set fire to their shoes.

Blue Lines wasn’t produced without persuasion, though, and while it might shuffle to a remarkably assured beat, the then-trio of 3D, Daddy G and Mushroom needed a little coercion to get the puzzle pieces in their right places. The celebrated guilty party: one Neneh Cherry, a star on the back of 1989’s Raw Like Sushi LP, whose championing of this group of Wild Bunch sound system sorts helped seal a record deal. And once Blue Lines was delivered, Virgin set about exploiting its singular content. Hip hop unlike its stateside purveyors, soul without bedroom intent: this wasn’t quite like anything else out there. And the breakthrough would be, while hardly instant, dramatic enough to still be felt to this day.

Unfinished Sympathy alone didn’t make Blue Lines the classic its standing in so many best-albums-ever charts confirms, but it ensured that the public en masse would give Massive Attack the chance to impress with their myriad approaches to music-making. While its peak position of 13 on the UK singles chart could be seen as something of a disappointment if released today, Unfinished Sympathy’s video clicked with the MTV crowd – Shara Nelson’s determined street-walking was immediately iconic, later referenced (read: stolen wholesale) by The Verve and parodied by Fat Les. Although it utilised samples, uncleared at the time, there was no doubting that the track signalled the arrival of a powerful pop force with unique ideas. It blew the floodgates open, and in the years that followed a thousand lesser acts aping Blue Lines’ melancholy-kissed claustrophobia, bubbling basslines and smoky vocals poured into the world’s bedsits and penthouses alike.

Of course, focusing on just Unfinished Sympathy doesn’t tell a fraction of the story to be discovered on this album. Horace Andy’s sweet, from-dark-to-light tones on the distant-thundering dread of Five Man Army, the noticeable emotional crack in Nelson’s voice as she delivers the chorus of Safe From Harm, the slinky funk of Lately, Hymn of the Big Wheel’s urban-evensong climax: there’s a wide spectrum of delights spread across these nine tracks. And if you’ve never indulged before – the likelihood is slim, surely – make sure that you slip inside this enduring masterpiece as soon as you can. Arguably, Massive Attack have never bettered this debut – and certainly, they’ve never sounded quite this hungry and fresh since.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Well let us atart with the good points being the cd has been remastered very well, and well worth buying if you have the original.
The bad points being the packaging is just rubbish, a card sleeve which covers the jewel case completely useless. The inner sleeve hasnt even got the lyrics that the original booklet had. The only album notes that are available are covered by a black tray, a clear one would have been better.
My advice if you have the orginal cd is to swap the cds over.
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Format: Audio CD
I came to this album very late - 13 years late to be exact - and I'm still in the honeymoon period with it, playing it constantly. I'm probably about to say the same as everyone else but there's not a duff track here, mainly because of the different styles at play (jazz, hip-hop, dub, dance, bits of soul, the beginnings of trip-hop, tribal beats with 'Hymn of the big wheel' and of course, orchestral music on 'Unfinished Sympathy'). There's a wonderfully sparse, late-night feel on tracks such as 'Blue Lines' and 'Five Man Army' - the way 3D and crew languidly interact with each other on these tracks is awesome - and 'Lately' has such a dreamy, atmospheric quality to it, not forgetting a wicked bassline. Then there's the magnificent 'Unfinished Sympathy', but I don't think I need to go on about the chilling effect it has on my mind, body and soul because that's all old hat really. Not that this album will ever be old hat - I'm pretty sure I'll still be listening to it in another 13 years.
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Format: Audio CD
When sitting down with your friends over a beer or ten, do you end up discussing what your top five favourite albums of all time are?
I do and this little beauty is always there!
So, some background information for you. I used to be involved in the Bristol music scene in the eighties and in fact spent many a blissful night behind the decks at a number of Bristol's clubs, one of those being the now famous 'Dug Out' which was the foundation scene for the Wild Bunch and from there - well that's history and well documented.
So having seen the Wild Bunch in action all those years ago I found myself buying Blue Lines the day it came out in 1991, and having taken the purchase home sat back in amazement as from the dark undertones of "Safe from harm" to the final uplifting beauty of "Hymn of the big wheel" I knew that this was unlike anything I had ever heard before. How could a bunch of 'blaggers', as the guys used to refer to themselves as being, produce an absolute masterpiece and I mean masterpiece?
I guess we will never know but for me music has never quite been the same since. This CD never stays out of my home or car for long and even though I have followed Massive Attack like a religion since their birth, I still love this album more than anything else they have released.
Don't get me wrong, I treasure their subsequent releases and would always find a moment or a mood for each. 100th Window for instance is very dark and very different than anything else you can put your hands on currently which makes it so unique, but picture a sunny day in Bristol driving through St. Pauls or across the Downs and Blue Lines falls into place. I guess it's simply just a Bristol thing.
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Format: Audio CD
i've been listening to this album a lot lately and it still sounds as fresh now as it did all those years ago. i don't think there's one weak track on the album and some of them are simply stellar. this is the album that spawned a complete new genre in 'trip-hop' but don't let thoughts of the sneaker pimps put you off as most of the scene was just a pale imitation of this album.
everyone knows the massive single 'unfinshed sympathy' with shara nelson vocals and famous video and lots of people also know the mighty 'safe from harm' (again ms nelson on the vocals making it another obvious single choice) but it's on tracks like 'blue lines', 'lately' and the sublime 'daydreaming' that this album comes into its own.
absolutely essential and every home should own a copy.
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Format: Audio CD
Like most people, I first got to know of this band through hearing 'Unfinished Sympathy'. It's not that typical of the rest of the album, but I bought it on the strength of the one track, and boy, and I glad I did!
This has got to be one of the best albums of the 90's, one that redefined music and gave birth to the genre of 'trip-hop'. I know that sounds like a terrible exageration, but I really cannot think of anyone else who played this kind of music before Blue Lines.
Every track here is a killer - 'Five Man Army' is a favourite of mine, and 'Blue Lines' gives us a clue where the band were going to head in future years. There is such a range of vocal talent here, from the undoubted talents of Shara Nelson and Horace Andy to the slightly off-key talk/whisper of 3-D. I don't think any other band would be able to get away with such a diverse collection of vocal talent on one album.
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Format: MP3 Download
I love Massive Attack and bought this remix as my original was worn out, scratched, ruined from overuse.

Such high hopes for this disc, it is rubbish. The sound quality even on the DVD hi-res version is compressed, it sounds oppressive, the bass is too forward, the mix is heavier, less light and air. On the CD the same is true except on mine there were some noises that sounded like distortion that just should not have been there at all (my copies were promo's, so maybe the commercial version is different).

I listen through Quad amps and ESL57 speakers, so you can hear this stuff, but everyone on almost any stereo will too. Buy the original, don't nick it, don't iTunes it, get it, hold it, love it but avoid this money making dog rough remix, it's awful.
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