Artist of the Week – Massive Attack

Many moons ago, I had a radio show, which included an Artist of the Week feature, in which I gave some history on the act. I’m including them here because I think they give an interesting perspective, but watch out for any errors or omissions in this piece.

The Massive Attack story goes all the way back to 1983, when the Wild Bunch DJ collective was formed. Based in Bristol and showcasing varied musical styles and genres, they soon started to draw huge crowds. When the Wild Bunch came to an end in 1987, two of its members, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall teamed up with a graffiti artist Robert del Naja, more commonly known as 3D, and formed Massive Attack.

Working with another former Wild Bunch member Nellee Hooper, who has since gone on to huge success as a producer, and was at the time also working with Soul II Soul, they released their first singles Any Love and Daydreaming in 1990.

They soon saw the success they deserved, with Unfinished Sympathy and Safe from Harm both becoming huge hits and propelling the Blue Lines album towards the right end of the charts.

The first album saw great marketing difficulties because of their name, and possible links between it and the first Iraq war, so they dropped half of their name and temporarily became Massive. For various reasons the US tour that followed was something of a disaster, and they disappeared into the studio for three years.

Their comeback Protection is just as essential an album as the first, and, in chart terms at least, was more successful. It brought them three further hit singles: SlyProtection, and Karmacoma, and the remix album No Protection, although rather bizarre, was also a substantial hit.

Following another break, this time of four years, with only the one-off single Risingson to show for it, they returned in 1998 with their third album Mezzanine and three further hit singles, Teardrop, Angel, and Inertia Creeps.

One member down, they returned in early 2003 with their fourth album, 100th Window. Probably their darkest offering to date, it crept in at the top of the charts and quickly disappeared without a trace, with only one hit single and one non-charting single to show for it. More recently, they made a brief visit back to the charts at the end of last year with the soundtrack to the Luc Besson film Danny the Dog.

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