ScanS → NME Magazine Review #1
Publication Date: June 1991
The reason why Bristol musicians always disassociate themselves from their hometown is now apparent. Who would cherish being tied down to a parochial scene when they could go outemational?
Massive’s roots might be in the sound systems of Bristol, along with Smith & Mighty, Gary Clail, Mark Stewart and Mellee Hooper, but stone me if they haven’t just dropped the sleekest, deadliest, most urbane, most confounding LP 1991 has yet seen. And it’s only their debut.
Without going OTT with superlatives. Massive put current changes on the dancefloor in perspective and map out blueprints for what must surely come next. After “Blue Lines’ the boundaries separating soul, funk, reggae. House, classical, hip-hop and space-rock will be blurred forever, Massive are ostensibly a hip-hop crew turned collective. The nucleus- Daddy G, Mushroom, 3-D – get help from some stalwart and unknown sources; Shara Nelson’s plaintive yet soulful voice. Lover’s Rock star Horace Andy’s elder-statesman tones, Tricky Kid’s latdback rap, Tony Bryan’s smooth four-poster bed quiet storm’ styltngs, not to mention a 40-piece orchestra.
Innovation is the driving force behind the genre-splicing, tasty cuts on show. ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ (here in its original version, not the slightly inferior remixes) drowns you in string-laden emotion while coming on like a meeting between latter-day Joy Division and Soul II Soul. ‘Daydreaming’, the long-lost first single, introduces the (then) Massive Attack rap style which is akin to people with time on their hands carrying on a measured, metered even, conversation, and still seems fresh, witty, original.
‘Lately’ cheekily updates Lowrell’s ‘Mellow Mellow (Right On)’, ‘Be Thankful For What You’ve Got’ covers the William DeVaughn neo-Gospel stormer and creates a kind of cybersoul in the process. And, just to startle you, ‘Five Man Army’ lifts the earthquake-inducing bass of Soul II Soul’s ‘Our Time Has Come’ – which they stole from a Jamaican Studio cut- adds a smoooothfour-way rap, ropes in Horace Andy to reprise his hits of yesteryear, and then presses the button marked ‘heavy dub action’.
“Midnight rockers, city slickers, gunmen and maniacs “are the first words you’ll hear on ‘Safe From Harm’. Metaphorically speaking. Massive are alt these and more, and ‘Blue Lines’.only begs one question; how the f— will they follow this?
Written By Dele Fadele