Mezzanine (album)

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Mezzanine
Massive Attack - Mezzanine.png
Studio album by Massive Attack
Released 20 April 1998 (1998-04-20)
Recorded 1997–98
Studio Massive Attack, Christchurch Studios
(Bristol, England)
Genre
Length 63:29
Label
Producer
Massive Attack chronology
Protection
(1994)Protection1994
Mezzanine
(1998)
100th Window
(2003)100th Window2003
Singles from Mezzanine
  1. "Risingson"
    Released: 7 July 1997
  2. "Teardrop"
    Released: 27 April 1998
  3. "Angel"
    Released: 13 July 1998
  4. "Inertia Creeps"
    Released: 21 September 1998

Mezzanine is the third studio album by English trip hop group Massive Attack, released on 20 April 1998 by Circa and Virgin Records. It was the first album to be produced by Neil Davidge, along with the group, the entire album was provided on their website for legal download many months before the physical release was announced.[citation needed]

Mezzanine topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, becoming the band's most commercially successful album to date. It saw the band expanding their trip hop sound to electronica stylings,[1] with diverse influences from rock, hip hop and dub genres.[3]

Background[edit]

The production of Mezzanine was a stressful process, with tensions arising within the group, the album was meant to be released in December 1997, but was delayed by four months, with Del Naja spending most of the time in the studio "making tracks, tearing them apart, f***ing [sic] them up, panicking, then starting again."[4]

Mezzanine was a pretty sketchy album in terms of the way we worked, because the band, as reported a lot at that time, were not getting on. So I'd be in the studio working with one of the members and someone else would come in, then the person I had been working with would leave and I'd have to change the track I was working on because they didn't want to work on that track, they wanted to work on something different. Sometimes I'd be working on perhaps four different tracks in one day, which was a pretty messy way to work.
– Neil Davidge in an interview with Sound on Sound.[5]

The album's working title was Damaged Goods, which was the name of the Gang of Four's 1978 debut single.[6]

"Teardrop" became the opening theme to the American medical drama television series House, which ran on Fox from 2004 to 2012.

Composition[edit]

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 "Angel" among others.

Similar to their previous albums, several songs use one or more samples, ranging from Isaac Hayes to The Cure; 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 on "Black Milk".[7] 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.[8]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[9]
Entertainment Weekly A−[2]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[11]
Muzik 10/10[12]
NME 8/10[13]
Pitchfork 9.3/10[14]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[16]
Uncut 5/5 stars[17]

Mezzanine entered the UK Albums Chart at number one,[18] and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 4 September 1998 and then double platinum on 22 July 2013.[19] However, it failed to share the same success in North America, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard 200[20] and number 51 on the Canadian Albums Chart.[21]

The album received significant critical acclaim, which praised the collective's new sound. Rolling Stone's Barney Hoskyns, 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 [...] only highlights the flat, monotonous rapping of the group's 3-D."[15] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a two-star honorable mention rating and selected "Risingson" and "Man Next Door" as highlights.[22]

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."[9]

Years after the album was released, it was placed on several best-of lists in the UK and the United States; in 2000, Q magazine placed Mezzanine at number 15 on 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.[23] In 2013, it was placed at 215 on NME's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[1]

As of 2010, sales in the United States have exceeded 560,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. [24]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Angel" (feat. Horace Andy) 6:18
2. "Risingson" 4:58
3. "Teardrop" (feat. Elizabeth Fraser) 5:29
4. "Inertia Creeps" 5:56
5. "Exchange (Instrumental)" 4:11
6. "Dissolved Girl" (feat. Sara Jay) 6:07
7. "Man Next Door" (feat. Horace Andy) John Holt 5:55
8. "Black Milk" (feat. Elizabeth Fraser) 6:20
9. "Mezzanine" 5:54
10. "Group Four" (feat. Elizabeth Fraser) 8:13
11. "(Exchange)" (feat. Horace Andy)
4:08
Sampling credits

All samples as per Whosampled.[26][27]

In addition, "Angel" and "(Exchange)" incorporate lyrics from the Horace Andy songs "You Are My Angel" (from You Are My Angel) and "See a Man's Face" (from Skylarking), respectively.

The original version of "Superpredators" contained a sample of "Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, which is not present in the Mad Professor remix (which can be found on the Risingson Single and the Japanese Extended Album).

Personnel[edit]

Massive Attack[edit]

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

Other personnel[edit]

  • Neil Davidge – production, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Horace Andy (tracks 1, 7, 11), Elizabeth Fraser (tracks 3, 8, 10), Sara Jay (track 6) – vocals
  • Angelo Bruschini – guitars
  • Jon Harris, Bob Locke, Winston Blisset – bass guitars
  • Andy Gangadeen – drums
  • Dave Jenkins, Michael Timothy – additional keyboards
  • Jan Kybert – Pro Tools
  • Lee Shepherd – engineering (Massive Attack and Christchurch Studios)
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing (Olympic Studios)
  • Jan Kybert, Paul "P-Dub" Walton – mixing assistance
  • Tim Young – editing, engineering (Metropolis Studios)
  • Nick Knight – photography
  • Tom Hingston – art direction, design

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[56] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[57] Gold 25,000*
Belgium (BEA)[58] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[59] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[60] 2× Gold 243,000[61]
Germany (BVMI)[62] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[63] Gold 50,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[64] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[65] Gold 25,000*
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[66] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] 2× Platinum 600,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[67] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Mirkin, Steven (15 May 1998). "Mezzanine". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Mueller, Gavin (1 September 2003). "Massive Attack – Mezzanine – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Hanson, Amy. "Risingson - Massive Attack". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
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  10. ^ Bennun, David (10 April 1998). "As dark as it gets". The Guardian. 
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