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With links to Massive Attack, forerunners in the style he performs in, the Trip-Hop artist Tricky was unleashed on the world early in 1995. Débuting with "Maxinquaye" (named after his late mother) it was a landmark release and was unlike few others that the UK music world had seen up to this time. Combining US Hip Hop with the electronic chill-out Bristol Trip-Hop sounds, he fused these together with a number of other styles he was inspired to by and created a classic, well-received underground classic.
Through the album it plays-out as is it's a duo rather than Tricky as a soloist. The artist is the primary producer here and lyricist, but his then-partner Martina Topley-Bird is just as prominent. She sings through the release and appears to be essential in making it work. It's important to note that Martina has such a role on the album as it isn't really until the fourth track, "Hell is Around the Corner", when Tricky takes on the primary vocal role. It's far from conventional, but works nicely as it gives a sharp contrast from a great female voice to a male one with a rather troubling tone in his delivery.
Although the downbeat opening track which begins the record may be far-detached from what know of Hip Hop, later on it becomes much more apparent how this forms part of the music. Much of this is done through subtle manners which ensure that they detach themselves from what was going on out in the States. The elements which uphold these traits may come through the structure of the tracks, samples of even simply DJ scratches, but they all have a role in connecting this dark music to the original Hip Hop sound.
One of the biggest tracks sits early on as "Black Steel" directly lifts the opening verses to Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos". Since Chuck D's lyrics still have the same relevance to Tricky, he allows his partner to sing the rhymes out. The results of it are incredible as the track is remade with a harsh Rock backing and percussion which sounds like a hollow Jungle track from around this time. A highly-political one such as this adds to the experience when sharing a tracklist with the shocking lyrics found on "Abboan Fat Track" (made to highlight the Hip Hop trend of incorporating themes deemed to be misogynous). He seems to have a great amount of awareness of what his aims are and never goes half-way when trying them out.
The way Tricky and Mark Saunders put together samples, such as with "Aftermath", makes it clear why comparisons must be made between this album and production which The RZA did for the Wu-Tang Clan. Subsequently it's no surprise at all that he went on to record an EP alongside The Gravediggaz (which RZA was a part of) as his dark ideas fit together so easily with theirs and the only major difference between the cold, haunting music he makes and the rawness seen on their "6 Feet Deep" release is that they were much more shouty and he tends to whisper his lyrics. His time skipping school in order watch horror flicks comes through in the spooky music found here and it's certainly not for all. It sounds like a Brit version of Horrorcore.
Although everything down to the cover may seem dark upon first looking at it, it's not all this way. "Brand New You're Retro" seems as though he's had enough of trying to scare listeners and just wants to let loose with speedy rhymes that reflect his past as more of a general MC inspired from the Golden Age greats. It's nice to see how he's able to bring in a cut like this into the album without it sounding misplaced and it certainly twists things in a different direction to what's most prominent through the album. "You Don't" has a similar effect with the Reggae hints, but the quality of the song isn't nearly as strong.
All in all, this is certainly a very original album. Much of what's done here is completely fresh and gives hints of where the British music world would head as the years went on. This was really ahead of its time, and was said to lay the foundations of early Grime, Dubstep and a number of sub-genres based around those. Tricky fuses Rock and ambient music as if they were supposed to go together, he clashes sounds which appear as though they have no place so close to each other and is bound to shock listeners. If it wasn't for his dark whispered vocal delivery and overall eeriness which he brings to the table, then this would have been able to receive much more attention for what it offers as a genius fusion piece. It's full of trippy trance-inducing material and lyrics aimed at the more mature listener and makes for a great alternative record to get into.
1. "Overcome" **Four Stars**
2. "Ponderosa" **Four Stars**
3. "Black Steel" **Five Stars**
4. "Hell Is Around the Corner" **Five Stars**
5. "Pumpkin" (feat. Alison Goldfrapp) **Four Stars**
6. "Aftermath" **Five Stars**
7. "Abbaon Fat Tricks" **Four Stars**
8. "Brand New You're Retro" **Five Stars**
9. "Suffocated Love" **Five Stars**
10. "You Don't" **Four Stars**
11. "Strugglin'" **Four Stars**
12. "Feed Me" **Four Stars**
This was one of the seminal hip hop albums of the early 90's, Tricky was the producer and performer du jour, having links to other members of the Bristol Trip Hop mafia, Massive Attack, he even has one song with the same basic tune overwhelmed by his moody beats and vocals.
This really is a startling album, dark, nasty, brooding and incredibly heavy, it has a real edge to it but it's that which makes it so incredibly listenable, the vocals are wonderful with Martina Topley-Bird contrasting her sweet mellow voice with Tricky's rough rasping local twang. The album is still the highlight of Tricky's career for me, it is wonderful. I would recommend this to anyone who likes chill out or trip hop and anyone who enjoys intelligent rap and well structured mayhem.
Overcome - This is the same basic song as Karma coma by Massive Attack which also featured Tricky and there were rows over who created the song, this has an amazing hypnotic vocal from Martina, it starts really industrially with amazing drums and a huge bassy sound, the vocals sprawl over the song, they're dirty and sleazy, this is a wicked song, it's the kind of thing I listen to when I want to chill out, Martina's voice matches the huge beats perfectly.
Ponderosa - I love this song, Martina's voice is child-like and the lyrics make sense....just!! The woody beat sounds tribal, the tinny bass sounds like a bedroom sound, tricky supports Martina and his drawl contrasts perfectly, I love the lyrics, they sound like two drunks spouting beautiful wise rubbish, the song has a great chorus, wonderful verses, there are noises moving in and out of the tune which add to the audio experience, you really have to concentrate to get all you can from this, it's a very inventive song, with two vocals, overlapping, wild drums, pianos, a distorted choir and a sense of disorganised chaos which is utterly charming. A wicked, wild tune which I adore.
Black Steel - A remake of a Public Enemy tune, this improves on the original, talking about disillusioned people joining the army, why should they when they feel nothing for the people they have to look after. I love the fact Martina sings this, the contrast from Chuck D's aggressive original is great, the guitars in the chorus add to the tune perfectly, Tricky produces this song to perfection, loads of little twists, the vocal is all important but the pace of the song rises and falls to create a real thrashing tune to match the angry, uncompromising vocal.
Hell is round the Corner - Tricky's first main vocal on the album, the background tune will be familiar to fans of those other Bristol Trip Hop Stars, Portishead, Tricky drawls, flows perfectly with his slow west country style, he sounds seductive and predatory, Martina joins in on the chorus and her vocals are stunning, the lyrics are odd but wonderful, they make such sense while being mixed up and challenging, the song has a slow chilled vibe, but the lyrics are anything but chilled and demand total concentration.
Pumpkin - This is slow and sounds almost fairly tale like with its whirling pace and chiming beats, Martina talks hauntingly over the sounds, she sounds great, Tricky joins in sounding out of it, this is the song of a man who is possessed, he speaks so slowly and so heavily you think he's drunk or high, this is a showcase for Martina's voice with some mixed up trickiness in the middle, it's not my favourite tune as it doesn't challenge or have the insaneness of other songs but it is beautiful and Tricky's last quarter of the song is lovely, its romantic in a lost, broken way.
Aftermath - A haunting organ melody, a bassy drum powering over it and a ghostly vocal which doesn't make sense, a perfectly strange start to a song, the tune flows out to be quite funky after this, Martina does the vocals, Tricky joins in, for me this song is too long at 6 minutes, the Bristollian rap of Tricky is great on this song, the contrasts work, but it's way too long.
Abbaon Fat Track - I love the slow lazy nature of this song, the samples are stunning, this is a realty sexy song with some very naughty lyrics matched to languid beats, it reminds me a lot of the way Serge Gainsbourg would create amazing beats, get wonderful female talent to sing over it and just join in when he wanted, Tricky simply repeats Martina's words, but it works through the contrast in their voices.
Brand New Your Rettro - Over the beat of a Michael Jackson song this is lively this is Tricky's best song for allowing him to show real fast flowing rap skills, he is superb, the lyrics are ace, his style is so cool, I wish he'd kept this up, the chorus is catchy when Martina throws her vocal in, almost rapping over a funky saxophone and breakbeat, this is a mixed up tune with funk, soul and heart to burn, this is a fast paced highlight of the album, so much to listen to its superb!!
Suffocated Love - Love the slow sampled beats, with a grainy flow, it is part of the whole trip hop chilled out vibe of that era, but it has aged well, this is a demented love song with Tricky almost singing, his lyrics are superb, Martina's chorus sounds pained and disturbed but with a sense of love, this is a truly twisted love song and it is beautifully created.
You Don't - The female vocal sounds amazing on this tune, she has a fantastic adaptable voice if this is Martina, the beats are crazed and distorted, Tricky takes a back seat, this is an ok tune, great vocal and mad beats but it is one of the weakest songs on this album for me.
Strugglin - I think this is based around Tricky pretending to be high, this whole tune sounds drug crazed , the beats have no structure nor does the female vocal, or tricky's rambling, this is a stream of consciousness and it is bloody good, it is an experiment in sonics and I really actually think it's great.
Feed Me - Last song on the album, great beat, funky sample, Tricky can be heard but it's distorted and weird, Martina provides a great structure to the tune and she is great on this song, Tricky doesn't do as much as I'd like on this and it's a disappointing if decent end to the album.
I really enjoy this album, Martina is the star of the album, her voice is incredible and so adaptable, she moves from soul to smooth to hip hop. I love Blame the first four songs and Brand New Your Rettro, the album is a really good experiment, I enjoy listening to it for chilling or for challenging myself, you can buy the album on ebay for a couple of quid or on amazing for a fiver, it's also available on I tunes. This is a great album, one of the best of the 90's, Tricky's production is superb, his raps are so interesting I love the fact he changed UK rap and we no longer had to listen to Brits pretending to rap as Americans.
Tricky's Maxinquaye is one of those all time great albums! The mix of hip hop with complete mellow chillout music is blended together with absolute precision. You never tire of the songs here, and each time you listen to it you love it. Black Steel is one of my favourites, along with Hello is Round The Corner which are just excellent. The female vocals on some tracks with Tricky's vocals on others, and both together are a welcome diversion to keep the tracks different throughout. if you don't own this album then you really should!
Underworld, the Chemical Brothers and Leftfield all had a major effect on drawing alternative music fans over to dance. But just as great was the amount of pull exerted by Bristol's holy trinity of Massive Attack, Portishead and Adrian Thaws, aka Tricky. In '95, i was languishing in Indiekidsville, Idaho. i can still remember the fantastic impact "Dummy" had, when i first listened to it, staring into the dark, wondering why music like this hadn't been done before. It sounded entirely natural, and yet completely new, a quantum leap in style (the number of imitators they spawned verify this). But to then put on "Maxinquaye" shortly after, and have exactly the same sense of awe, of unimaginably original music... "Maxinquaye" (christened after Tricky's ma, Maxine Quaye) is undeniably his best album. The adulation heaped on his shoulders seems to have led him to become ever more obtuse and unlistenable, desperate to escape the clutches of the unthinking fans who will appluad his every move regardless (remind anyone of Chris Morris?). But this album is enough to make you want to cut him a helluva lot of slack. The first time i heard 'Ponderosa' (when in the aforementioned Indiekidsville) was when the video was on TV, in the depths of the morning, with a dedicated b-boy for company. We both loved it instantly - Tricky's rasping West Country tones, the skewed genius of the lyric, the Tom Waits beats... it's one of the perfect tracks that will stand up whatever else Mr Thaws does in the future. 'Overcome' is familiar to anyone who owns Massive Attack's "Protection" as nearly the same song as 'Karmacoma'. And 'Hell is Around the Corner' is built around the same sample as Portishead's majestic 'Glory Box'. But Tricky's tracks are at least as good as his compatriots, the former ploughing a much darker furrow, and the latter - a
ided by the silken vocals of collaborator Martina - possibly the sweetest twist on the album. While most of the album nestles spikily inside a blunted groove, 'Brand New You're Retro' and the Public Enemy cover 'Black Steel' both kick like mules. Many of the lyrics on the album manage the same level of social concern as PE, though without the politicized focus. This is sorely lacking from his later releases. Basically, if ya like yer music to be inspiring, dark, innovative and melodic, and if you've time for sharp and thought-provoking lyrics..? Nothing less than ESSENTIAL!
Arguably Tricky's best work. Much more cohesive and accessable than his later work. Martina's lilting vocals over the languid slow drum loops and samples from funk and Smashing Pumpkins tracks are just wonderous. Even better are the clashing of the lyrical stylings. Martina's completely breath taking melodic voice over the hushed raspy whispering of Tricky creates such a dissonance of emotion. And the lyrics and as a concept album, where most of the songs are about the reluctance to lose one's self in love... Make this Cd a true Classic
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Black Steel
4 Hell Is Around The Corner
7 Abbaon Fat Tracks
8 Brand New You're Retro
9 Suffocated Love
10 You Don't
12 Feed Me