Mezzanine

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Mezzanine

'Mezzanine' is Massive Attack's third studio album, released on April 27, 1998. It was produced by Neil Davidge along with the group and released by Virgin Records. Musically, 'Mezzanine' is a major departure from the jazzy and laidback sound of the first two albums ('Blue Lines' and 'Protection'), invoking the dark undercurrents which had always been present in the collective's music. It was released to near-universal acclaim worldwide, was a huge success in the UK and other parts of Europe, although it failed to share the same success in the United States, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard 200.

'Mezzanine' marked the departure of band member Andrew Vowles (Mushroom), due to creative conflicts. Similar to their previous albums, the majority of the songs consists of one or more samples, ranging from Isaac Hayes to Led Zeppelin. The album has sold over 300,000 copies in the UK alone since its release.

Contents

Album information

Critics lauded the album's textured and deep sound, although it was a heavy departure from the sound of their previous releases. The album relies heavily on abstract and ambient sounds, as demonstrated in the song 'Mezzanine' among others. Horace Andy, a well-known reggae artist also performed several spots on the album.

The entire album was provided on their website for legal download many months before the physical release was announced. It was one of the first major uses of the MP3 format by a commercial organization.

In 1998 Manfred Mann sued Massive Attack for unauthorized use of a sample of the song "Tribute", used in "Black Milk". The song has subsequently appeared as "Black Melt" on later releases and at live performances, with the notable absence of the sample.

The track "Man Next Door" also sampled '10.15 Saturday Night', B-Side of British band The Cure's first single release in 1979.

Reception

'Mezzanine' was well received by critics, who praised the collective's new sound. Rolling Stone's Barney Hoskyns however, although praising the album, pointed its flaws; "[Sometimes] rhythm and texture are explored at the expense of memorable tunes, and the absence of the bizarre Tricky (who appeared on 'Blue Lines' and 'Protection') only highlights the flat, monotonous rapping of the group's 3-D."

John Bush of Allmusic also had positive light for the album's song 'Inertia Creeps'; it "could well be the highlight, another feature for just the core threesome. With eerie atmospherics, fuzz-tone guitars, and a wealth of effects, the song could well be the best production from the best team of producers the electronic world had ever seen."

Years after the album was released, it was placed on many "Best Of" lists in UK, and even in the United States. In 2000, Q magazine placed 'Mezzanine' at number 15 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 412 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time'.

'Inertia Creeps' & Manic Street Preachers

'Inertia Creeps' was originally written by Massive Attack and given to band Manic Street Preachers to be sung by rhythm guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards in early 1994. Since Edwards had a reputation for being volatile and unpredictable, Massive Attack were unsure of how receptive Edwards would be to the song. However, to Massive Attack's surprise, Edwards was enamored with 'Inertia Creeps', and recorded a version with Manic Street Preachers. The Manic Street Preachers version of 'Inertia Creeps' was shelved until 1998.

Track listing

  1. "Angel" - 6:18 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Hinds)
  2. "Risingson" - 4:58 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Reed/Seeger)
  3. "Teardrop" - 5:29 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser)
  4. "Inertia Creeps" - 5:56 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles)
  5. "Exchange" - 4:11 (Hilliard/Garson)
  6. "Dissolved Girl" - 6:07 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Sara Jay/Matt Schwartz)
  7. "Man Next Door" - 5:55 (Holt/Smith/Tolhurst/Dempsey)
  8. "Black Milk" ("Black Melt" on later releases) - 6:20 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser)
  9. "Mezzanine" - 5:54 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles)
  10. "Group Four" - 8:13 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser)
  11. "(Exchange)" 4:08 (Hilliard/Garson)
  12. "Superpredators" (Japanese bonus track) - 5:16 (Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles)

Personnel

  • Robert Del Naja (3D) – vocals, producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples, art direction, design
  • Grant Marshall (Daddy G) – vocals, producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Andrew Vowles (Mushroom) – producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Neil Davidge – producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Horace Andy, Elizabeth Fraser, Sara Jay – vocals
  • Angelo Bruschini – guitars
  • John Harris, Bob Locke, Winston Blisset – bass guitars
  • Andy Gangadeen – drums
  • Dave Jenkins, Michael Timothy – additional keyboards
  • Jan Kybert – ProTools
  • Lee Shepherd – engineer
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing
  • Jan Kybert, Paul PDub Walton – assistant mixing
  • Tim Young – cut
  • Nick Knight – photography
  • Tom Hingston – art direction, design