Tags: baillie walsh, blue lines, deborah miller, jonny dollar, nellee hooper, paul oakenfold, shara nelson
Safe From Harm was one of the the first four songs produced for Blue Lines, with the other three songs being Be Thankful For What You’ve Got, Any Love (2) and Lately. Of these four songs, 3D at the time felt that the best of the material produced to be Safe From Harm, finding that that the other three songs were a bit too retro and soft.
This song, maybe more so than any other Massive Attack owes a big debt to the sample it was primarily based on, which was Billy Cobham’s Stratus, whose idea to sample from, was from Mushroom. Safe From Harm was also the first Massive Attack song to be produced with Shara Nelson followed shortly afterwards by Lately.
Safe From Harm was released just four days before the release of Blue Lines in the UK. This was obviously an effort to help promote the album.
The perfecto remix of Safe From Harm was used at the very end of the 1999 Michael Mann film “The Insider”, which you can watch here on YouTube. Michael Mann would later use Splitting The Atom as the opening theme for the 2012 TV series, “Luck”; a series he executive produced.
Safe From Harm has become as much apart of the live setlist as other crowd favourites such as Unfinished Sympathy and Teardrop. Since first appearing on the 1995 tour it has gone through a few different varations to the way it has been arranged and played live however. On the 1995/1996 tour, Safe From Harm was the first song played on the setlist following on from a short instrumental prelude of Protection that would fade into the opening of Safe From Harm. On the 1998/1999, the first half minute or so of the song was atmospheric scratching noises conducted by Mushroom on the decks before Safe From Harm would start properly. Also on this particular rendition, the live guitarist Angelo Bruschini, added on an entirely new element to the end of Safe From Harm, which was an extended rocking guitar riff and solo, adding around three minutes onto the original song length. By the time of the 2003 and 2004 tours, the scratch intro had been dropped but they still retained Angelo’s contribution at the songs’s end. Then on the 2006 tour, this extended outro by Angelo changed again, bringing a lot more guitar feedback and noise into the mix.
Because Shara Nelson has never toured with Massive Attack, Deborah Miller is the stand-in vocalist for all of the Shara Nelson album tracks, including not only Safe From Harm, but Unfinished Sympathy and Daydreaming. The only exception to this however was in 2004 and 2008, when Deborah Miller was unavailable for the entire tour and was replaced by singers Hazel Fernandez and Yolanda Quarty for each of those respective tour. And as always, 3D was there, on every tour to fulfil his vocals as they are on record.
Perfecto Mix – Following on from remixing Unfinished Sympathy the soon to be world famous DJ, Paul Oakenfold would offer another remix for Massive Attack under the Perfecto nametag. On this particular remix he would also be assisted in remixing by Steve Osbourne. Included on all single releases.
12″ Version – Former Wild Bunch member and soon to be co-producer of Protection, Nellee Hooper drops his second Massive Attack remix following on from remixing Unfinished Sympathy. Included only on the 12″ vinyl single and promo releases, until the arrival of the Singles 90/98 Box Set where this remix was included on CD for the first time.
7″ Version – This is a truncated version of the 12″ Version. Included on all single releases.
7″ Instrumental – This remix removes Shara Nelson’s vocals from the mix. Included only on the 7″ vinyl single release, until the arrival of the Singles 90/98 Box Set where this remix was included on CD for the first time.
Just A Dub – This is another remix done by Nellee Hooper which was based off his previous 12″ mix. Included only on the 12″ vinyl single and promo releases, until the arrival of the Singles 90/98 Box Set where this remix was included on CD for the first time.
Just A Groove Dub – This is a very similar sounding mix to the the Just A Dub and was again remixed by Nellee Hooper. Included only on the 12″ vinyl single and promo releases, until the arrival of the Singles 90/98 Box Set where this remix was included on CD for the first time.
Safe From Harm uses a sample from the song “Gold Ole Music” by the famous funk band Funkadelic. It appears primarily on their 1970 self-titled release “Funkadelic”. It is not credited officially by Massive Attack.
Safe From Harm also uses a sample from the song “Chameleon” by the the jazz fusion artist Herbie Hancock. It appears primarily on his 1973 release “Head Hunters”. It is not credited officially by Massive Attack.
Apart from the last two aforementioned samples, Safe From Harm uses a sample from the song “Stratus” by Billy Cobham. It appears primarily on his 1973 release “Spectrum”. This is one of the most well-known samples in a Massive Attack song. The beat and bassline from Stratus was used to construct the majority of Safe From Harm around it.
British soul meets pop group “Mo Solid Gold” proceeded to cover Safe From Harm for inclusion on their 2001 album “Brand New Testament” and also was the main A-side for a single from the same band that year. This is one of the few occurrences of a cover version of a Massive Attack song that also received a widespread single release.
3D on the sample use of Billy Cobham’s Stratus and also on the use of sampling in Massive Attack’s music in general – “Working with a sample like that you can’t go wrong. Even as a loop with no vocals in it, as soon as you loop that up and listen to it your going ‘yeah’. It just has a total groove. That also encapsulates what it was about in those days of just grabbing four bars from someone else, stealing it, looping it, that whole anarchic way of just building a song on some sort of extended beat or something, and that’s what it was about. That track [Safe From Harm] in particular really does capture that spirit, I think” [Collected EPK - March 2006]
Both Daddy G and Tricky are very briefly glimpsed at the beginning of the video walking away from 3D down the corridor.
The version of Safe From Harm that is used for the video is the 12″ Version and not the original album version.
Interpretations From SongMeanings.com
MTV Europe 1998 Live Performance
Pinkpop 2003 Live Performance
Wireless Festival 2006 Live Perforamce
Glastonbury 2008 Live Performance
Melt Festival 2010 Live Performance
Clip From The 1999 Movie “The Insider” Featuring Safe From Harm (Perfecto Mix) On The Soundtrack
Clip From The 2008 Movie “Definitely, Maybe” Featuring Inertia Creeps On The Soundtrack