If you ever watched the show House you are probably pretty familiar with the opening credits song. If you don’t know, that song is Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” from their exquisite and masterful album, Mezzanine. This song has some very interesting history and tidbits. The origin of the song was first developed from a harpsichord riff made in the studio. Originally (and this is very intriguing) Madonna was the first person Andrew Vowles wanted to have sing on this track. The other 2 members Robert Del Naja and Grantley Marshall wanted Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser to sing lead. Turns out there is a version with Madonna singing this song but, they chose Elizabeth Fraser’s version due to her style fitting the mournful melody more favorably.
I remember the day I bought Massive Attack’s Mezzanine very clearly. I was at Tower records and was browsing through the aisles and came across this very peculiar cover. It looked like one of the bugs from Starship Troopers. Needless to say, this made me curious as to what this could be. So I took it up to the counter and the guy working told me I made a wise choice. And what a choice I made. Mezzanine is an album that expands the dark undercurrents which had always been present in Massive Attack with textured and darker tones that features abstract and ambient sounds.Subtly drenched among the songs, lies deep influences of The Velvet Underground, The Cure and hints of John Bonham’s ferocious drumming. On an interesting note, and I think this helps to play into the darker vibe of the album, is that while making this album there was quite a lot of tension in the group causing one founding member to leave after the album was completed.
The album begins with a brilliant one, two, three, four, five punch of the songs “Angel,” “Risingson,” “Teardrop,” and “Inertia Creeps,” and “Exchange.” As the album moves on from that point it takes a step back into the darker corner. First with the dramatic “Dissolved Girl,” and then with “Man Next Door,” which features primitive beats, a catchy melody and soulful singing. As the album continues, the psychedelic atmospheric vibe continues to guide the songs through to the end.
There is something truly hypnotic about the way the album flows. Mezzanine is one of the best albums to come out in the last 20 years. It’s also an album that belongs in every music fans collection. So if it’s been a while or you’ve never heard Mezzanine, take the time to get acquainted with it, you’ll thank me later.