Monday, 30 March 2020
TRICKY - EARLY ESSENTIALS & EXPANSIONS
Adrian Thaws aka Tricky Kid aka Tricky has been an artist that rose to high prominence. But whilst continuing to make music to this day seems to endear himself to hardcore fans only. having consistently progressed his music forward over the course of some 25 years Tricky has managed to remain relevant if not still having critical and commercial sucess these days, to illustrate I had no idea Tricky was still making music and releasing albums until recently and I consider myself a fan, His current flavours of contemporary urban music are not really my bag but his body of work in the mid 90's up to 2000 was outstanding and I decided that having talked about it in the post on Massive Attack I would do this companion piece as I feel Massive Attack and Tricky are intrinsically linked certainly during the era covered by this post and again now as he made an appearance with Massive attack on their most recent 2016 EP "Ritual Spirit" which if you have a look at the Massive Attack post (HERE)you will see this was really quite an event!
After breaking from the Massive Attack collective in 1994 after their 2nd album "Protection" Tricky started work on his debut album with vocalist Martina Topley-Bird Also featuring appearances from Alison Goldfrapp & Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, The Mafia etc) The resulting album "Maxinequaye" (Named for Tricky's departed departed mother) was unprecedented! Winning him critical and commercial acclaim and sold 100,000 copies during it's first months of release and going on to sell 500,000 reaching number 3 in the UK album charts, no mean feat when you listen to the album and I certainly remember at the time nearly everyone I know owning this album!
Whilst as I have stated Tricky has continued to consistently release music having just released a single earlier this month (March 2020) this post will stick to the era of Tricky's first 3 albums and surrounding projects as for me this was an era when his creativity and innovation was at it's best.
I am going to deal with your links and talk a bit about each album at the same time here if you wish to delve deeper into Tricky's history then you can find all you want to know HERE at trusty ol'wikipedia it will also provide you with links to other articles should you choose to follow them.
Maxinequaye (1995) - Tricky's debut was surprisingly popular, the thing with Tricky's music is it is dense and dark, utilizing elements of Hip Hop, Dub, Rock and with some experimental edges at times the beats are quite off kilter and leave you wondering whether you should nod your head or scratch it. It's not without it's moments of beauty take the beautiful slow motion strings and beats of "Hell is Round The Corner" with Martina provided some vocal parts to compliment Tricky's sinister whisper it is just sublime. Martina Topley Bird has a unique style at once heavily accented streetwise young girl at the same time smoky chanteuse it's a brilliant combination and I definitely think finding her was a godsend for Tricky as she fits it perfectly and is key to this albums brilliance. Tales of lost love and urban alienation rub shoulders with street jargon, slang and give an overall dense, dark feel to the whole album, the click of what sounds like an automatic handgun forming part of the beat on "Strugglin'" illustrates this perfectly and throughout the album Tricky and Martina's trade off vocals compliment each other perfectly. Whilst not an entirely challenging listen, for me, this album has an experimental edge that is missing from a lot of what is known as "Trip Hop" whilst this album is tailor made for sinking into the couch with a packed spliff it'll have you looking behind you to make sure no one's there.
LINK NOTES - This album was given the "Deluxe Edition" treatment back in 2009 and I picked this version up, the entire package is remastered and the bonus disc contains monitor mixes, remixes and B-sides as well as 3 new remixes from 2009 by Tricky himself. However I was a bit disappointed because there was a brace of singles and EP's released around this album and a LOT of the B-side material and mixes and some of my favourites were not included. So In this folder you will find a folder entitled Disc 3, this was assembled by me from various CD's I own and top quality downloads and contains a further 11 Mixes from the B-sides of the various singles that were ommited from the Deluxe Edition so this rounds up pretty much the entire first year of Tricky's career.
Nearly God & Starving Souls (NG (1996) SS (1995) - In between Tricky's debut and second album, as if hitting us with Maxinequaye's dizzying journey wasn't enough Tricky initiated 2 projects first Starving Souls and then this short-lived (one EP) project morphed into Nearly God. This was completely unexpected, an artist rooted in the culture of Hip Hop brings out an album almost devoid of beats! Whilst not completely without ANY rhythm at all, what beats there are are sparse and minimal in some cases reduced to mere bass pulses you feel rather than hear, in other cases beats are there but understated, not only that the list of collaborators is an impressive run through some of the biggest names of the era. Featuring contributions from Terry Hall, Björk, Neneh Cherry, Alison Moyet, Cath Coffey and of course Martina Topley-Bird.This album does not have the same sort of density as "Maxinequaye" but it definitely has a very dark and brooding atmosphere. Opening with an unrecognisable cover of Siouxsie & The Banshees "Tattoo" the album proceeds through another 10 tracks each of which has it's own unique features (Take I be the Prophet With it's weird jumpy almost horror movie strings) and is a really interesting companion piece to "Maxinequaye"
LINK NOTES - Here I have given you The American version of this album which contains 2 bonus tracks "Children's Story" from the B-side of the "Poems" single and "Judas" In the folder you will also find the Starving Souls "I Be The Prophet" EP whilst Starving Souls is basically the Project that evolved into Nearly God ("I Be The Prophet" Is on the Nearly God album) It contains non album track "If You Want My Love" and alternate version "I Be The Prophet (With Drums)" and is worth having for those alone!
Pre-Millenium Tension (1996) - Tricky's second album was a shocker for me whilst "Maxinequaye" had been an impressive and brilliant debut, the depth of maturity and progression displayed by this second album was staggering. Taking the already dark, dense & claustrophobic feel of the debut and pushing those boundaries further, looking back now I can't believe an album this dark could be so popular I remember working at Virgin records and regularly hearing tracks from it being promoted on the instore radio! Opening track "Vent" simmers deeply with a looped snare roll, subsonic bass and guitar motifs and Tricky intoning "Can't Hardly Breathe" repeatedly whilst Martina provides some backing if that isn't the very definition of "claustrophobic feel" I don't know what is! Making a conscious effort to shed the "Trip Hop" tag he'd been saddled with Tricky himself stated "I wanted to make this an out and out punk record" I wouldn't exactly say he achieved that, whilst it certainly doesn't have the same slow motion feel of "Maxinequaye" it's still definitely a chilled out listen if you take that as a double meaning, as in it's chill out but at the same time "chlling" like a horror movie! The lurching scratch of single "Tricky Kid" winch literally sounds like someone heaving about to vomit, coupled with the backing shouts of someone deranged (Tricky? who knows!) doing intermittent dub style toasting like they were being electrically shocked and you have a pretty potent mix! Again this album is not without it's beautiful "ahhhh" moments take "Makes Me Wanna Die" where Martina's gorgeous sultry croon is in full effect over some gorgeous guitar picking and a really nice beat, however here look at the title it's not the music that's dark here it's the content! This really is a fantastic album and shows that Tricky was listening and watching and progressing the sound forward without losing any of the momentum he had gained and still being consistent in his sound.
LINK NOTES - This album was reissued and remastered in 2016 released bizarrely enough by Cherry Red (usually home of punk and post Punk having released stuff by The Fall and Dead Kennedys) it was expanded with 5 bonus tracks from the various B-sides of singles and EP's from the album however once again there was a few mixes and B-sides missing so in this folder you will a second folder "B-sides" containing a further 4 tracks that were omitted from the official expansion.
Angels With Dirty Faces (1998) - This, Tricky's 3rd album and the last one to feature Martina Topley Bird as a collaborator is a completely different sound and a big departure from it's predecessors and is definitely, whilst great, far less challenging than the first two. Here the album has a live sound the drums and instrumentation sounding for the most part less sampled and more like an actual band, however weirdly enough lead single from the album "Broken Homes" features a collaboration with jagged british Indie artist PJ Harvey and it's beat has that same slow motion feel backed with almost soul-esque backing singers and peppered with a Public Enemy style sax scream! The chill out vibe of the preceding 2 albums is still there in a way but it feels more intense, less chill out on the sofa and more sit up and pay attention this is perfectly evidenced by second single "6 Minutes" an intense track with hard hitting drums that scattershot the rhythm and retain the live feel I mentioned before!
Again here Tricky has progressed and pushed his sound into new area's whilst still remaining consistent and familiar the self deprecating and media baiting "Analyse Me" and the sub drum and bass rhythms of "The Moment I Feared" are great examples of this! Whilst I would say this is not quite as compelling for me as the first 2 albums This is still head and shoulders above his contemporaries at the time only his previous band Massive Attack who released their master work "Mezzanine" bettered him in 1998!
LINK NOTES - Here I have given you the Japanese Edition of the album no one has seen fit to reissue/expand./remaster this album as yet so as The Japanese version came with 2 bonus tracks I bought that to replace my original (Note the Japanese version as with all the non UK versions of the album have the tracks presented in a different order than the original UK edition, I have left it in the order it came the bonus tracks being "Time Slippin'" & "Peyote Sings") As with the other files I present here again this album having not been expanded there's a second folder of B-sides rounding up 4 more tracks and thus covering the entire "Angels..." era)
Mission Accomplished EP (2000) - I have included this little curiosity as I almost added it to the "Angels..." folder but coming between that album and his next "Blowback" I figured I would give you it separately! SO this EP contains 4 tracks culled from various promos etc that were put together as this EP it carries on in the same "less trip hop more hip hop/live band" feel as "Angels..." does but I mainly include it here for the absolutely vicious closing track "Divine Comedy". This vitriolic stab at his previous record company (The sarcastically bright sampled shout and repetitive motif of "Polygram" throughout the track leaving no doubt whop the target is) and hearing Tricky's attack on this is worth the downloading this EP alone!
Remixed (2001) - This compilation rounds up Tricky's remixes of other people up to 2000 and contains 9 of Tricky's take on tracks by a dicverse ranfge of artists such as Intastella, Black Grape, Yoko Ono, Elvis Costello, Cath Coffey, Aco, Angeligue Kidjo, Bush & Garbage. So pretty much a round up of older heads and indie darlings of the 90's It seemed when Tricky's star was on the rise everyone wanted a piece of him This comp, whilst not essential is part of the era I cover here and I figured I would include it as an interesting look at Tricky's remixing skills and also because it shows you how a couple of critically acclaimed albums can put your name on everyone's lists and open doors.
That's pretty much your lot then! I have maybe rambled a bit more than intended considering this was simply a companion piece to the Massive Attack post, I seem to have possibly made this one even more expansive! It wasn't my intention, but I hadn't listened to Tricky in a while and as I did this post I was listening through to each album and I was stunned how damn progressive and innovative Tricky were. Not to say that he is not anymore, but I haven't really found much of his post millennium work has moved me that much "Blowback" his fourth album from 2001 was decent enough but didn't have the same spark or attraction for me as the preceding work. I guess having fallen off the radar a little and continuing to release work quietly and a lot of stuff as downloads I guess Tricky committed as he is to what he does and continuing to progress and remain contemporary is no longer the media darling he once was (considering his intense dislike of the media I guess he's probably happy with that?) so I did wonder if this post might be a bit of a nostalgia one for me and anyone who comes across it because I definitely have a nostalgia for that era of my life when the whole "Trip Hop" thing was fresh and new and I was deeply immersed in it, however having listened to the albums today I am in no doubt that, whilst the music covered here is definitely "Of it's time" it most definitely passes muster on the UTS Quality control meter and is 100% worth the inclusion and your attention.
MAXINEQUAYE (DELUXE EDTION + EXPANSION) - Mediafire
NEARLY GOD & STARVING SOULS - Mediafire
PRE-MILLENIUM TENSION (DELUXE EDITION + EXPANSION) - Mediafire
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (JAPANESE EDITION + EXPANSION) - Mediafire
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED EP - Mediafire
REMIXES - Mediafire