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Mezzanine is the third studio album by English electronic music duo Massive Attack, released on 20 April 1998 by Circa and Virgin Records. Produced by Massive Attack and Neil Davidge, it saw the duo expanding their trip hop sound to electronica stylings,[1] with diverse influences from new wave,[2] rock, hip hop, and dub music.[3]

Mezzanine
Massive Attack - Mezzanine.png
Studio album by
Released20 April 1998 (1998-04-20)
Recorded1997–1998
StudioMassive Attack Studios and Christchurch Studios, Bristol
Genre
Length63:29
Label
Producer
Massive Attack chronology
Protection
(1994)
Mezzanine
(1998)
100th Window
(2003)
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 topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, becoming the group's most commercially successful album to date. It spawned four singles: "Risingson", "Teardrop", "Angel", and "Inertia Creeps".

Contents

BackgroundEdit

The production of Mezzanine was a stressful process. With tensions arising within the group, it almost split the band.[2] They disagreed about the musical direction for the new material. Robert Del Naja first started making samples from new wave records, from the likes of Wire and Gang of Four: it was the music he'd listened to in his early teens. Del Naja wanted Massive Attack to make an album having an atmosphere of edginess and paranoia present in the music of the late 1970s. Grant Marshall, also a new wave fan himself, supported this idea, as he wanted to get away from the "urban soul" of their previous work, Protection, but Andrew Vowles was sceptical.[4] The sessions continued with Vowles and Marshall working on bass and drum loops, while Del Naja carried on experimenting from new wave records. However, during the recording, the group decided to release a new track, "Superpredators" sampling extensively a Siouxsie and the Banshees' song called "Metal Postcard", for the movie soundtrack of The Jackal;[5] the track would be included on the Japanese version of Mezzanine.[6]

The album was initially 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."[7] The album's working title was Damaged Goods, which was the name of the Gang of Four's 1978 debut single.[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.[8]

CompositionEdit

Mezzanine has been described as featuring trip hop[9] and electronica,[1] with a "dark claustrophobia" coupled with a melancholy.[3] Musically, the album 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".[10] The song has subsequently appeared as "Black Melt" on later releases and at live performances, with the sample removed. Later digital editions of Mezzanine have retained the original song, with Mann being added to the songwriting credits.[11][12]

Mezzanine marked the parting of band member Vowles, due to creative conflicts. Reggae artist Horace Andy also performed several spots on the album.[13]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [14]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[9]
The Guardian     [15]
Los Angeles Times    [16]
Muzik10/10[17]
NME8/10[18]
Pitchfork9.3/10[19]
Rolling Stone     [20]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [21]
Uncut     [22]

Mezzanine entered the UK Albums Chart at number one,[23] and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 4 September 1998 and then double platinum on 22 July 2013.[24] However, it failed to share the same success in North America, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard 200[25] and number 51 on the Canadian Albums Chart.[26]

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."[20] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a two-star honorable mention rating and selected "Risingson" and "Man Next Door" as highlights.[27]

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."[14]

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.[28] 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.[29]

LegacyEdit

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

20th Anniversary ReissueEdit

The album has been remastered and comes with an album of previously unreleased dub mixes by the Mad Professor which were originally intended to be released on a Mad Professor Mezzanine remix album. The reissue is on two physical formats: a two-CD deluxe and a three-LP super deluxe which features three colour vinyl albums and comes with a 48-page hardcover book featuring photos from Nick Knight that show the development of the cover imagery. The two-CD version of this 20th anniversary release is set for release on November 16, 2018. The triple vinyl super deluxe is due out on December 7th, 2018.

Customers who pre-ordered the LP super deluxe edition were later notified the release of this version had been cancelled and refunds were available.[30] The reissue is now expected to be released throughout 2019.

Dub version with Mad Professor remixesEdit

Eight of the Mad Professor remixes, were initially intended to be released in 1998 but scrapped at the time by the record company. It includes "Metal Banshee" – an unreleased dub version of "Superpredators" – which was a reworked cover of "Metal Postcard", and "Wire", a track recorded for the soundtrack to the film Welcome to Sarajevo.[31]

Track listingEdit

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Angel"6:18
2."Risingson"
4:58
3."Teardrop"
5:29
4."Inertia Creeps"
  • Del Naja
  • Marshall
  • Vowles
5:56
5."Exchange"4:11
6."Dissolved Girl"
6:07
7."Man Next Door"John Holt5:55
8."Black Milk"
6:20
9."Mezzanine"
  • Del Naja
  • Marshall
  • Vowles
5:54
10."Group Four"
  • Del Naja
  • Marshall
  • Vowles
  • Fraser
8:13
11."(Exchange)"
  • Hilliard
  • Garson
4:08

Sample credits[33]

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Mezzanine.[33]

Massive Attack

  • Robert Del Naja a.k.a. 3D – vocals, production, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples, art direction, design
  • Grant Marshall a.k.a. Daddy G – vocals, production, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Andrew Vowles a.k.a. Mushroom – production, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples

Additional personnel

  • Neil Davidge – production, arrangements, programming, keyboards, samples
  • Horace Andy – vocals (tracks 1, 7, 11)
  • Elizabeth Fraser – vocals (tracks 3, 8, 10)
  • Sara Jay – vocals (track 6)
  • Angelo Bruschini – guitars
  • Jon Harris, Bob Locke, Winston[34] Blissett – 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 – mixing assistance
  • Paul "P-Dub" Walton – mixing assistance
  • Tim Young – editing, engineering (Metropolis Studios)
  • Nick Knight – photography
  • Tom Hingston – art direction, design

ChartsEdit

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[68] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[69] Gold 25,000*
Belgium (BEA)[70] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[71] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[72] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[73] Gold 250,000^
Italy (FIMI)[74] Gold 50,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[75] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[76] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[77] Gold 25,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[78] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[79] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[80] none 560,000[29]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[81] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

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

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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