Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Song of the day

"Hymn of the Big Wheel", by Massive Attack.

Today's question is: do you really need to buy the 2012 remixed/remastered version of Massive Attack's "Blue Lines"? I haven't heard the 2012 release, but listening to the original CD, from 1991, I can't say that I can find, with the passage of 21 years, any particular deficiency or negative legacy in the original. In fact, I would happily say it still sounds as vital, as fresh as a daisy, as it ever did.

On the other hand, if you don't already own "Blue Lines" in some form, there is only one answer: grab a copy with your Ears Pinned Back.

Impossible, it is (as Yoda might have said), to single out any one track from what must be one of the most solidly excellent albums of recent years. But today we are going with the closing number. For a reason. Possibly an entirely spurious reason, but a reason nonetheless.

Listening this morning, with slightly more open ears than usual (holidays, after you have been on them for long enough, will do that to you), I was struck by the similarity, in one of the synth lines, between this song and Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream", which is, as you already know, one of my favourite songs. Neneh Cherry is responsible for the backing vocals on "Hymn of the Big Wheel", and also (I now discover) co-wrote the song. There is, as you also already know, a previous connection between Massive Attack and Neneh Cherry: Robert "3D" Del Naja co-wrote "Manchild" (which happens to be another of my favourite songs). All of this elaborate joining of the dots leads us to: last year's unexpected and surprising (and entirely successful) cover by Cherry, with jazz collective The Thing, of "Dream Baby Dream".

Which is a long way from Massive Attack, admittedly, but I suspect they would approve.

Big wheels within big wheels, indeed.