Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor – No Protection

Early in 1995, just a few months after the release of their fantastic second album ProtectionMassive Attack did something rather unusual. With the help of DJ Mad Professor, they released the entire album a second time, this time in the form of dub remixes. The track order is pretty much the same too – the only things missing are Eurochild and the live cover of Light My Fire, both from the second half of the album. So why exactly did this oddity deserve a release of its own?

One good reason would be the minority appeal of dub music. For the uninitiated, dub is rather difficult to define, and all the more so because the vast majority of “dub mixes” which appear on singles are little more than instrumental versions. But listen to this release, and you’ll quickly gain some kind of understanding, even if you can’t define it any better. It typically isn’t full vocal – instead, the main parts of the original are chopped up and liberally sprinkled with post-processing effects such as reverbs, flanges, and delays. Fairly simple pop songs are transformed into ten minute sonic explorations, and the combination of Massive Attack and Mad Professor leads to a heady mix.

As before, it opens with the title track Protection, this time relabelled Radiation Ruling the Nation. This is one of the best tracks on this release, and while it’s definitely not something you’re likely to listen to every day, it’s still an interesting listen, with the insane amounts of reverb percolating Tracey Thorn‘s original vocals.

Bumper Ball Dub (originally Karmacoma) comes next, entirely devoid of vocals but an extremely enjoyable instrumental nonetheless, this time with more of the reggae influences of dub showing themselves. Then the Trinity Dub of Three does lose some of the chilled out beauty of the original, but it still has a certain bizarre charm.

Cool Monsoon (a version of Weather Storm) adds a couple of minutes to the original, but keeps a lot of the key aspects, such as the calm arpeggiated piano parts, and despite some rather bizarre noises turning up in the background, it’s still rather beautiful. Similarly the largely instrumental version of SlyEternal Feedback.

There’s nothing unpleasant here, particularly if you try not to compare them too closely to the originals, although it’s probably fair to say that some work better than others, and Moving Dub (Better Things) is a bit of a mess. The warbling flute of I Spy (Spying Glass) is vaguely reminiscent of early Kraftwerk, and this track also has an unusually rhythmic beat, although with a lot of delay, making this one of the more standout tracks on the album.

Finally, Backward Sucking (Heat Miser) is one of the more discordant tracks, and really bears very little resemblance to the original, so it would be easy to understand if you wanted to argue this was the weak link on the album.

But for all of that, this is a very enjoyable release, and a surprising one at that. Mad Professor continued to work with Massive Attack, and apparently there’s even an unreleased dub version of Mezzanine floating around in the archives, waiting for a potential release one day. I, for one, am looking forward to hearing it.

Perhaps surprisingly, No Protection remains in print and widely available.

Free mp3 of the week – Van She

Australian group Van She have allowed themselves to be remixed by the literally crazy Mad Professor, on their excellent song Jamaica. See here:

Also, poke around on RCRD LBL, and you’ll find a load of remixes that they have done for other people too.

The Stowaway Awards 2013 – Nominations

Awards season is upon us! To celebrate, here are the nominations for our own ceremony, the Stowaway Awards. You already know the results of the Best Track thanks to our countdown the other week, so we’ll just cover the exciting awards.

Best Album

Last year’s winner was Credo by The Human League. The nominees:

  • Air – Le Voyage dans la Lune
  • Apollo 440 – The Future’s What it Used to Be
  • Delerium – Music Box Opera
  • Hot Chip – In Our Heads
  • Metroland – Mind the Gap
  • Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
  • The Presets – Pacifica
  • Saint Etienne – Words and Music by Saint Etienne
  • Sébastien Tellier – My God is Blue
  • Soulsavers – The Light the Dead See

Best Remix

Last year’s winner was Personal Jesus (The Stargate Mix) by Depeche Mode. The nominees:

  • Gossip – Move in the Right Direction (CSS Remix)
  • Jean Michel Jarre – La Cage (Vitalic Rmx)
  • Ladyhawke – Blue Eyes (Ron Flieger Remix)
  • Tycho – Dive (Keep Shelly in Athens Remix)
  • Van She – Jamaica (Mad Professor Dub)

Best Live Act

Last year’s winners were Sparks. The nominees:

  • Gotye
  • Justice
  • Keep Shelly in Athens
  • M83
  • Madness

Best Newcomer

Last year’s winner was Kavinsky. The nominees:

  • Bim
  • The Good Natured
  • Gotye
  • Metroland
  • Soulsavers

Best Artist

Last year’s winners were The Human League. The nominees:

  • Apollo 440
  • Hot Chip
  • I Monster
  • Metroland
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • The Presets
  • Saint Etienne
  • Sébastien Tellier
  • Shit Robot
  • Soulsavers

The full and exciting ceremony will take place in mid-February. Next week, we’ll start looking in detail at what’s been going on at the Brit Awards.

John Peel’s Record Collection

Browsing through someone else’s record collection is always very rewarding. You learn so much about the owner!

Although I’m sure none of us really needed to learn much about John Peel‘s beautifully eclectic tastes. If there’s anyone who didn’t worship him as a living God when he was around, then I’d be fascinated to know why. And if there’s a music fan out there who doesn’t know where they were then they found out he’d sadly died, then I’d be very surprised.

If you are the one person on the planet who wasn’t aware, then he was probably the finest DJ in British radio history. After some time in the world of piracy in the mid 1960s, he joined fledgeling BBC pop station Radio 1 when it started in 1967 and stayed there right up until his death in 2004. He was responsible for starting the careers of so many big name bands that it’s not even worth considering listing them, and his Peel Sessions remain a household name worldwide.

And this year, 45 years after he joined Radio 1, his estate have been working on a wonderful project to digitise his record collection, and they finally reach the end of the alphabet this week. Starting initially with the first hundred records from each letter, the archive of a few thousand records is quite compelling. Check it out here.

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, but here are a few of the things which have caught my eye in his collection on my quick browse. Obviously I’m a lot less open minded than he is, but then neither was I going to list all 2,600 entries here! I’ve copied their links where appropriate, but I’d strongly recommend that you go and browse them for yourself!

In particular, the brilliantly bizarre industrial Slovenes Laibach get a full interview in the L is for Laibach feature here, which is well worth watching.