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Mezzanine
Studio album by Massive Attack
Released 20 April 1998
Recorded 1997–1998
Genre Trip-Hop, electronic, downtempo
Length 63:29
Label Virgin
Producer Neil Davidge, Massive Attack
Professional reviews
Massive Attack chronology
Protection
(1994)
Mezzanine
(1998)
100th Window
(2003)

Mezzanine is the third studio album by English trip hop group Massive Attack, released on 20 April 1998. It was produced by Neil Davidge along with the group. The album was released on Virgin Records.

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 organisation.

Contents

Sound

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. The album's textured and deep tone relies heavily on abstract and ambient sounds, as demonstrated in the song "Mezzanine" among others.

Similar to their previous albums, the majority of the songs consists of one or more samples, ranging from Isaac Hayes to Led Zeppelin. In 1998 Manfred Mann sued Massive Attack for unauthorised use of a sample of the song "Tribute" from Manfred Mann's Earth Band's eponymous 1972 album, used in "Black Milk".[1] The song has subsequently appeared as "Black Melt" on later releases and at live performances, with the sample removed.

Mezzanine marked the parting of band member Andrew Vowles, due to creative conflicts. Horace Andy, a well-known reggae artist, also performed several spots on the album.[2]

Reception

Mezzanine was released to near-universal acclaim worldwide, and was a huge success in the UK and other parts of Europe. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at #1,[3] and was certified Platinum (marking sales of 300,000) by the BPI on 1 May 1998.[4] It failed to share the same success in the United States, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard 200.[5]

The album was well received by critics, who praised the collective's new sound. Rolling Stone's Barney Hoskyns however, although praising the album, pointed to 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."[6]

John Bush of Allmusic also had positive words for the album's song "Inertia Creeps", saying 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."[7]

Years after the album was released, it was placed on many "Best Of" lists in the 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.[8]

Cover Versions

"Angel" has been covered by Brazilian metal band Sepultura on their Revolusongs EP, released in 2003; by Charlotte Martin on her 2007 album, Reproductions; and by American mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan on their EP Plagiarism, released in the summer of 2006.

Another song, "Teardrop" has been covered by Anneke van Giersbergen, Newton Faulkner, The Getaway Plan, Simple Minds, Mika, José González, Incubus, Italian band Deasonika and Elbow, although their versions differ significantly in format and instrumentation from the original.

Track listing

# Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Angel"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Hinds 6:18
2. "Risingson" (sampled "I Found a Reason" by The Velvet Underground) Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Reed/Seeger 4:58
3. "Teardrop"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser 5:29
4. "Inertia Creeps"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles 5:56
5. "Exchange"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Hilliard/Garson 4:11
6. "Dissolved Girl"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Sara Jay/Schwartz 6:07
7. "Man Next Door" (sampled "10:15 Saturday Night" by The Cure) Holt/Smith/Tolhurst/Dempsey 5:55
8. "Black Milk" (sampled "Tribute" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band) Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser 6:20
9. "Mezzanine"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles 5:54
10. "Group Four"   Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Fraser 8:13
11. "(Exchange)" (sampled "Our Day Will Come" by Isaac Hayes) Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles/Hinds/Hilliard/Garson 4:08
12. "Superpredators" (Japanese bonus track) Del Naja/Marshall/Vowles 5:16

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1998 UK Albums Chart 1
1998 ARIA Charts 1
1998 Austrian Charts 3
1998 Belgian Charts 4
1998 Finnish Charts 4
1998 Switzerland Charts 6
1998 Billboard 200 60

Personnel

  • Robert Del Naja – vocals, producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples, art direction, design
  • Grant Marshall – vocals, producer, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Andrew Vowles – 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

References

Preceded by
Life thru a Lens by Robbie Williams
UK number one album
2 May 1998 – 15 May 1998
Succeeded by
International Velvet by Catatonia
Preceded by
Ray of Light by Madonna
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
3 May 1998 – 9 May 1998
Succeeded by
The Wedding Singer: Music from the Motion Picture
by various artists
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