Massive Attack


Members: Robert Del Naja , Grant Marshall, Adrian Vowles

Active: 1988 - present

Massive Attack began as an offshoot of the Bristol art community The Wild Bunch. In 1988 they released their first single "Any Love," followed in 1991 by their first album, Blue Lines, featuring the hit singles "Unfinished Sympathy" and "Daydreaming." According to polls produced by MTV2, NME, and various other magazines and reviewers, "Unfinished Sympathy" was one of the best songs of all time. A reviewer for the BBC has stated:

More than a decade after its release it remains one of the most moving pieces of dance music ever, able to soften hearts and excite minds just as keenly as a ballad by Bacharach or a melody by McCartney.

Blue Lines subsequently became one of the most influential British records of the 1990s, inspiring other projects such as Portishead and Morcheeba. Blue Lines ushered in a new genre of music referred to as "the Bristol sound," but the press began to use the label "trip hop," which the members of Massive Attack dislike.

During the first Gulf War, several British media channels became anxious to avoid using words suggestive of war and violence, and Massive Attack (then struggling to become established) were forced to temporarily change their name to simply Massive. Lead band member Robert Del Naja makes no secret in interviews of his political objections to what he sees as U.S. aggression against the Third World in the name of democracy, often expressing regret that he ever agreed to the name change.

In 1990, they remixed a song by the Pakistani Qawwali master, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This was one of the first World Fusion songs Nusrat recorded, preferring the traditional religious music of the qawwal. This song, "Mustt Mustt (Massive Attack Remix)," was used on a television advert for Coca-Cola.

In 1994, Massive Attack released their second album Protection. Featuring two string instrumentals arranged by Craig Armstrong, this album featured a deeper, more lush sound than the first. This marked the last collaboration of Wild Bunch member Tricky with Massive Attack, as he afterwards concentrated wholly on his solo career. Two songs ("Protection" and "Better Things") feature Everything But The Girl's vocalist Tracey Thorn. In 1995 they collaborated with Madonna on a cover of the classic Marvin Gaye song "I Want You," which appeared on her Something to Remember album and also a Marvin Gaye tribute album, "Inner City Blues."

Massive Attack originally consisted of three members, Robert Del Naja ("3D"), Grant Marshall ("Daddy G") and Andrew Vowles ("Mushroom"). After the recording of Mezzanine, Vowles, dissatisfied with the change in sound, left the band. He was replaced by Neil Davidge, who worked with Del Naja for much of his material on Mezzanine. Marshall sat out the recording of 100th Window.

Each Massive Attack album features guest vocalists, and so far the band has worked with Mos Def, Tricky, Shara Nelson, Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl, Nicolette, Sara Jay, Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins and Sin?ad O'Connor. The Jamaican reggae legend Horace Andy is a fixture on Massive Attack albums.

Massive Attack's third album, Mezzanine, was released in 1998. Mezzanine showed the band moving towards a dark, distorted guitar-based sound, and, according to many fans and critics, marked a significant evolution. Several songs from this album have been featured in major motion pictures; the opening track, "Angel," is featured in the films Snatch (directed by Guy Ritchie), Go (directed by Doug Liman), Flight of the Phoenix, Pi (directed by Darren Aronofsky), Stay (directed by Marc Foster), and Firewall (directed by Richard Loncrane). It was featured in an episode of television series The West Wing, and part of the track is used as the theme music for another American television series, 24. The third track, "Teardrop," has been featured in multiple TV series. An instrumental passage from the song is the opening theme for House (although versions of the program aired in other countries, such as the UK, use a generic snippet of music that resembles "Teardrop"). "Teardrop" was also used in the television series La Femme Nikita in the late 90s; in a 2006 episode ("Sanctuary") of the television series Cold Case, in which the piece signifies a flashback to 1998; and on Prison Break, in the episode aired May 1, 2006, titled "Tonight." The fourth track, "Inertia Creeps" is used in the film Stigmata. The fifth track, "Exchange" was featured twice in the hit documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys", although it did not appear on the soundtrack. The sixth track, "Dissolved Girl" was featured in the films The Matrix and The Jackal. The Japanese release of Mezzanine featured an additional track, "Superpredators," which was also used as the opening theme to the film The Jackal.

The release of Mezzanine also led to a change in Massive Attack's live show. Moving on from the highly simplistic set up of a few mics and turntables, the group began incorporating more and more live instrumentation into their shows. In addition to various guest vocalists, the Bristol trio were now being joined on stage by a live guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboard player. Massive Attack's performances also incorporated lighting and a large visual screen.

Massive Attack's fourth album, 100th Window, was released on February 10, 2003. It entered the Top 10 in the UK charts. Del Naja was charged with possession of drugs that month. While some critics found 100th Window not up to par with previous offerings, many found it a worthwhile listening experience.

In 2004, the band, now consisting of Del Naja, Davidge, and programmer Alex Swift, released an instrumental soundtrack for the feature film Danny the Dog, which was produced by Luc Besson. The film's title was changed to Unleashed prior to the American release, though the album was initially released under the original title as it came out months before the film.

2005 saw the band contribute to the soundtrack for the feature film Bullet Boy. The group had also been slated to work on music for the film V for Vendetta with past collaborator Craig Armstrong but had to bow out of the project due to scheduling problems.

Massive Attack now own their own members-only club, Nocturne. It is located in one of Bristol's major high streets.

In 2006 Massive Attack returned to the studios to record a new album, Weather Underground. Of the three original members, Del Naja and Marshall have returned to record the group?s fifth studio album. However, they will not be collaborating with each other extensively. Del Naja will be in one studio with producer Neil Davidge, and Marshall will be working from his own studio on the other side of Bristol. Presumably the pair will work more closely on a finished album after their respective batches of tracks are completed. Dot Allison, Horace Andy, Mike Patton, and Mos Def are expected to be vocal contributors.

March 2006 saw the release of Collected, a ?best of? compilation album. The two disc set includes select tracks from their main albums, some rare singles, and two new tracks, Live with Me and False Flags. The DVD layer of the second disc also contains all the the group?s music videos to date.

Massive Attack will be headlining in the 02 Wireless Festival on June 23, 2006, and have confirmed for the Austin City Limits Music Festival in September 2006. They recently played at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, with 60,000 fans in attendance.


1991 - Blue Lines
1994 - Protection
1995 -No Protection
1998 - Mezzanine
2003 -100th Window
2004 - Danny the Dog
2005 -Bullet Boy
2006 - Collected

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Submitted by OptimusPrime at Wed 24 May, 2006 5:57 am


Last updated by OptimusPrime at Wed 24 May, 2006 5:57 am

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