Info → Black Milk
UK Release: 20th April 1998 (Mezzanine)
Track Duration: 06:20
Formats: CD, Vinyl, MD, Digital.View Discography Entry.
Written By: Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall, Andrew Vowles and Elizabeth Fraser
Produced By: Robert Del Naja, Grant Marshall, Andrew Vowles and Neil Davidge
Black Milk was the second Elizabeth Fraser song to be conceived after Teardrop during the Mezzanine recording sessions at a studio in Cornwall that occurred throughout 1997. It was mostly a Daddy G creation with some input from Mushroom and with production overseen by Neil Davidge. 3D had virtually nothing to do with Black Milk as he was working on his own songs for Mezzanine along with Angelo Bruschini in a separate recording studio in Bristol at the time.
Unaware to 3D however is that Daddy G had used a sample of an old Manfred Mann track called “Tribute” and had failed to get any sort of sample clearance for it. While Massive Attack had used uncredited samples before in their work, this Manfred Mann sample was a very blatant “rip-off” of the original song sampling 120 bars out of 128 from the original source with the drum pattern, hi-hat and bassline being identical. Both Daddy G and Neil Davidge had convinced 3D that the sample was not noticeable and would go undetected. Unfortunately, for Massive Attack the sample did not go unnoticed as a German fan of Manfred Mann’s reported to him towards the end of 1998 of Massive Attack’s unauthorised use of his song. This led to him claiming damages of £100,000 from Massive Attack and even trying to get an injunction to stop sales of Mezzanine.
In the end, Massive Attack managed to settle amicably out of court with Manfred Mann, but details of the settlement were never made public. This debacle with sample clearance issues and copyright infringement was among the reasons (both artistic and financial) which would turn Massive Attack away from using samples on their next album 100th Window.
Black Milk has never been played live. It is speculated that Massive Attack cannot legally play Black Milk in the form it is in on Mezzaine because of the Manfred Mann lawsuit. Its newly remixed version, Black Melt however has become a near permanent fixture of the last few Massive Attack tours with it usually being the third or fourth song played. Black Melt was first played live at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia on the 11th March 2003. For the 2003 and 2004 tours Dot Allison would provide substitute vocals for Elizabeth Fraser’s absence on these tours. For Elizabeth Fraser’s live return for the 2006/2007 tour she was able to do live vocals for Black Melt. It would be dropped for the 2008 tour to make way for new songs being debuted on that particular tour for the first time.
Black Melt – As a direct response to Massive Attack being sued for the unauthorised use of a Manfred Mann sample, (which led to a costly out of court settlement with Manfred Mann), 3D took Black Milk and removed the offending sample entirely and from there built an entirely new song based on a more “new wave” sound, with no samples whatsoever and placed Elizabeth Fraser’s original vocals on top. This new version is included only on the special edition of Collected. It should also be noted that Black Melt on the special edition of Collected has an unexpected split second gap in sound at the 03:24 minute mark into the song. This is a deliberate gap of sound by Massive Attack for an unknown reason and not a mass production error on the disc, as what was originally postulated by many fans at first.
Black Milk uses a sample from the song “Tribute” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. It appears primarily on his 1972 release “Manfred Mann’s Earth Band”. It is not credited officially by Massive Attack.
3D on Black Milk – “This is an excursion in Liz’s own language, which I’m a big fan of. We usually jam and come up with random stuff, which we then re-record. It’s quite exploratory” [Vox Magazine – May 1998]
Daddy G to 3D convincing him that the the Manfred Mann sample was minimal – “A TINY LITTLE PIECE OF ATMOSPHERE” [Official Massive Attack Forum – February 2002]
3D on how Black Melt, the new version of Black Milk compares to the original – “POST IRONIC-LOVE IT MORE THAN ORIGINAL” [Official Massive Attack Forum – May 2002]
You’re not my eater. I’m not your food. Love you for God. Love you for the Mother. Eat me. In the space. Within my heart. Love you for God. Love you for the Mother. Mother fountain. Or live or not at all. The most level. Sunken chapel. Love you for God. Oh, I love you for the Mother. All’s there to love. Only love.