Info → Group Four

 Elizabeth Fraser of “The Cocteau Twins”, the vocalist on Black Milk.

Elizabeth Fraser of “The Cocteau Twins”, the vocalist on Black Milk.

Development

UK Release: 20th April 1998 (Mezzanine)

Track Duration: 08:13

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

Group Four was certainly a 3D inspired song which was mostly written, with Elizabeth Fraser as his writing partner and Angelo Bruschini providing support, at a recording studio in Cornwall, UK which was well away from the other band members who remained in Bristol.

This arrangement allowed the Massive Attack trio to work on their own individual material down in Cornwall without undue interruption and interference from any others, with different bandmembers each going down to Cornwall on their own at a time. 3D, taking charge of Group Four, oversaw not one but two Fraser vocals, sung weeks apart – the earlier one recorded in Bristol, the later one recorded there in Cornwall, and had Neil Davidge stitch an epic, near-Zeppelin finale onto the original frame.

Additional Info

 Logo for the UK security firm “Group 4″. The lyrics of Group Four are about a nightwatchman on patrol and the name of the song was most likely taken from this security firm.

Logo for the UK security firm “Group 4″. The lyrics of Group Four are about a nightwatchman on patrol and the name of the song was most likely taken from this security firm.

Speculating on why Group Four is called as such, the name could well have a double meaning. Group Four is the name of a security firm in the UK. Considering that 3D has stated that the meaning behind Group Four is of a nightwatchman on duty, then this connection makes some sense. Also Group Four might be a play on words of the the 1970’s post-punk band “Gang Of Four”, a band that many would say inspire alot of the material on Mezzanine.

Live Appearances

Group Four was first played live during the Mezzanine tour. For the majority of dates on the 1998/1999 tour, Elizabeth Fraser was not available due to the fact that she was pregnant at the time. She did however put in a memorable appearance at the Royal Albert Hall gig in June 1998. Her vocals on Group Four for this tour, were done instead by Debbie Miller.

On the 2003 tour, Liz Fraser was still not present, but now her vocals were substituted with Dot Allison’s. The continuation of the tour in 2004, completely omitted Group Four from the setlist, replacing it with the Redux version of Future Proof as each show’s finale. For the 2006 tour, not only would Group Four return, but so would Elizabeth Fraser who would be performing live and singing her vocals for not only Group Four but the other Liz Fraser tracks on Mezzanine, and proceeded to do the whole tour with Massive Attack. Once again (like in 2004), on the 2008 tour, Group Four was dropped to make way for the various new songs that would enter the setlist that year.

Every show that Group Four is apart of the setlist, it is always the last song played as a showstopper finale event. For this the original eight minute length is stretched to 12/13 minutes length, with the extra time devoted to a driving guitar riff which keeps increasing in intensity and loudness until the climax.

Variations/Remixes

Mad Professor Remix – A soothing ambient dub mix with a suitable dark edge by habitual Massive Attack remixer, Mad Professor. Included originally on the Angel single release but in a truncated edited form which shaved off what should have been the last three minutes of the remix. Thankfully, these lost three minutes were restored when this remix was included as part of the Singles 90/98 boxset.

Notable Quotes

3D on writing Group Four along with Elizabeth Fraser – “Your the complete master of your own domain, were the only thing you have to watch is the clock. And when Elizabeth started writing stuff, she was coming from a slightly different angle, but as uniquely as personal, and I think the idea of putting all the parts together is quite a confusing picture, but still quite operatic as well” [Mezzanine Interview Disc – March 1998]

3D on the meaning and recording process behind Group Four – “It’s the offer of being a nightwatchman and the idea of not having to deal with anyone else, with your only concern being your shifts or whatever. When we wrote it, Liz would come up with one thing, then I’d do another bit, then she would come back again with something else. It’s a very unorthodox way of writing” [Vox Magazine – May 1998]

Lyrics

3D:

A flask I drink of sober tea. While relay cameras monitor me. And the buzz surrounds it does. Buzz surrounds… Buzz surrounds…

Elizabeth Fraser:

Closed eyed sky wide open. Unlimited girl unlimited sigh. Elsewhere. Indefinitely. Far away. Magnifies and deepens. Ready to sing. My sixth sense peacefully placed on my breath. And listening.

3D:

Keeps me from my hurt.

Elizabeth Fraser:

My ears know that my eyes are closed.

3D:

Perish thoughs like contraband. I train myself in martial arts. As advertised. I reinforce my softened parts. As advertised.

Elizabeth Fraser:

See through me little glazed lane. A world in myself. Ready to sing. My sixth sense peacefully placed on my breath.

3D:

Flickering I roam.

Elizabeth Fraser:

And listening. My ears know that my eyes are closed. Ready to sing. My sixth sense peacefully placed on my breath.

3D:

Flickering I roam.

Elizabeth Fraser:

And listening. My ears know that my eyes are closed.

3D:

I see to bolts. Put keys to locks. No boat are rocked. I’m free to roam. On dummy screens. And magazines.

Elizabeth Fraser:

Closed eyed sky wide open. Unlimited girl unlimited sigh.

3D:

To think that I lay next to you. Wasting time when I could do. A simple job in strip lights. A flask I drink a sober tea. ‘Till daylight sends me home. Flickering I roam.

Elizabeth Fraser:

Daydreaming admiring being. Quietly, open the world. I hear the time of the starry sky. Turning over at midnight. Seen through me little glazed lane. A world in myself. Daydreaming admiring being. Quietly, open the world. I hear the time of the starry sky. Turning over at midnight.

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