Blue Lines is the debut album by English trip hop group Massive Attack, released on 8 April 1991 by Virgin Records. A remixed version of the album was released on 19 November 2012.
Blue Lines was generally considered the first trip hop album, though the term wasn’t coined until several years later. Blue Lines was a success in the United Kingdom, though sales were limited elsewhere. A fusion of electronic music, hip hop, dub music, ’70s soul music and reggae, the album established Massive Attack as one of the innovative British bands of the 1990s and the founder of trip hop’s Bristol Sound. Music critic Simon Reynolds stated that the album also marked a change in electronic/dance music, “a shift toward a more interior, meditational sound. The songs on Blue Lines run at ‘spliff’ tempos – from a mellow, moonwalking 90 beats per minute, down to a positively torpid 67 bpm.”
The group also drew inspiration from concept albums in various genres by artists such as Pink Floyd, Public Image Ltd., Herbie Hancock and Isaac Hayes.
Blue Lines featured breakbeats, sampling, and rapping on a number of tracks, but the design of the album differed from traditional hip hop. Massive Attack approached the American-born hip hop movement from an underground British perspective, as well as incorporating live instruments into the mixes. It features the vocals of Shara Nelson and Horace Andy, along with the rapping of Tricky Kid.
“We worked on Blue Lines for about eight months, with breaks for Christmas and the World Cup,” said 3D, “but we started out with a selection of ideas that were up to seven years old. Songs like ‘Safe from Harm’ and ‘Lately’ had been around for a while, from when we were The Wild Bunch, or from our time on the sound systems in Bristol. But the more we worked on them, the more we began to conceive new ideas too – like, ‘Five Man Army’ came together as a jam.”
“We were lazy Bristol twats. It was Neneh Cherry who kicked our arses and got us in the studio. We recorded a lot at her house, in her baby’s room. It stank for months and eventually we found a dirty nappy behind a radiator. I was still DJing, but what we were trying to do was create dance music for the head, rather than the feet. I think it’s our freshest album, we were at our strongest then.” Said Daddy G.
Album Track List:
1-Safe From Harm
4-Be Thankful for What You’ve Got
5-Five Man Army
9-Hymn Of The Big Wheel