nineteen Ninety Six



With an unusual list of vocal collaborators: Bjork, Terry Hall, Alison Moyet, Neneh Cherry, Dedi Madden and Cath Coffey, it was obvious Nearly God was going to be a bizarre collection of songs (one rumour had it as a sampleadelic Eighties synthpop throwback). It was such a risky venture that Tricky put it out under a different name, which may have been because, apart from Bjork, all of his collaborators were unproven talent or stars with better yesterdays than todays. In reality, whatever name he chose to put it out under, this was Tricky’s second LP. The sound of the record was much darker than expected after the relative polish of Maxinquaye; it's a dark, zoned out, Class-A substance damaged lo-fi affair which still manages to force melody through dark mesh. Realistically though, this isn’t a dyspeptic, career destroying Metal Machine Music themed 'fuck you'. Because while the songs forms are barely scratched in, never mind being fleshed out; Tricky makes the sound of dark nights, of want and solitude just as engaging as anything on his debut.

The icebreaker of “Tattoo” (a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover) makes music of grinding gears and drones damp with spots of drying blood, tears and sweat-smeared make-up. Stretched backing vocals yearn with an almost visceral sexual tension; these are the sex induced queasy shakes that the press claimed Maxinquaye was offering, which Tricky gives with his breathy vocals, racked with catarrh echoing sighs. Further down this spiral lay “Keep Your Mouth Shut”, a post relationship threat to Bjork made before their relationship had even ended. The mangled loops of found sound and sinister echoing underpass footsteps sit at odds with dreamy wafts of song from her own “You've Been Flirting Again”.

There are moments of light relief; more butterfly vocals from Bjork on "Yoga", the bluesy beats of Neneh Cherry’s “Together Now” and Terry Hall’s dark humour ("Life is just one bloody thing after another”). Their duet on "Bubble" reveals Hall to be the ideal lethargically calm pairing for someone as suspicious and wired as Tricky. Additionally, it’s Hall’s lyrics that form the heart of the fragile triptych of himself, Martina and Tricky on "Poems" which slinks along on submarine radar percussion and Tom Wait’s stolen organ. The metallic clapped hands bongo beat (with shades of “Overcome”) and snipped pealing bell melody of "Sing for You" with its mantra like lyrics: ��Pray for me...so I can find my way home, leave me now...so I can be alone’ offered Cath Coffey more scope than her day job as a backing vocalist for Stereo MCs. She’s a decent singer, but pales before the might of Martina Topley-Bird who subtly seethes (I imagine at Tricky) over the “Pills and Soap” sampling jazz standard, “Black Coffee”. Martina also took the vocals on Tricky’s second cover of “Children’s Story”, which appeared on the B-side of “Poems”, as well as being featured as an extra track on the US version of this LP. Martina’s decision to sing these traditionally rapped lyrics makes the song resemble a fairy tale as much for its delivery as for its nursery rhyme lyrics.

A last minute falling out with Damon Albarn while mixing their collaboration meant that the track “I’ll Pass Through You” was pulled and remains unreleased and unheard to this day, although Tricky admitted re-recording it using Suggs (Madness) on vocals instead. This addition would’ve substantially increased the profile of the project, not to mention sales. As a result, Tricky still pours forth bilious comments at the mention of Albarn’s name. This is one of the earliest and most high profile fallouts of his career, and the sense of wasted opportunity is one that hangs heavy with the passing of time. It’s obvious that this could have been one of the first major steps outside of Blur’s musical axis that Albarn would have engaged in. Instead, a few years later Albarn would have success with the Gorillaz and Mali Music projects, while Tricky would fall further into irrelevance.

As far as the production goes Nearly God is one of Tricky’s greatest achievements, rising above Maxinquaye in terms of its rough, nasty broken sonics and its pop potential. Lyrically it covers lullabies, sex, humour, threats and some darker insights into the warped world of Tricky revealing him to be much more complex than the confused stoner who is scared of girls on Maxinquaye. But it wasn’t all good in 1996, his Durban Poison remix of Intastella’s (picture a band coming in last in a One Dove wannabes contest) “Grandmaster” took a well whisked custard smooth track and undressed it for the first 2.30 and then spoiled it by covering it back up with some shitty soft house beats. What’s more, Tricky went on to run the decent enough “Milk” by Garbage withering it under the kind of dull and featureless production jobs you normally find on an Annie Lennox or Rod Stewart record. Instead of being too polished this is a claustrophobic, crawling tuneless lament spared only by the mercifully musical piano of the chorus. Tricky took great offence when it was relegated to the b-side, and gave them some stick in interviews, as he thought that the decision had been made for purely commercial reasons forced upon them by their label or management. These sorts of conspiracy theories seem to crop up throughout his career when things didn’t go to plan; it probably would’ve never dawned on him or his growing ego that his mix was inferior to the band’s own remix (which his vocals also appeared on).

Later in the year, his effortless (as in lack of) remix of Yoko Ono’s “Where Do We Go From Here” also suffered from apparent lack of input. Admittedly, it is the most commercial piece on Rising Remixes, sitting alongside mixes by Ween, Thurston Moore and Cibo Matto, but this purely because he removes all of her trademark unexpected shrieks and moans. The only variation, though, in the plodding two bar loop is Tricky mumbling some of her lyrics either over her or in spaces in-between. There really is no comparison between this and, say, the emotional fusion which you can hear between Martina and Tricky.

Citing invasions of privacy and general disgust at the UK music press (the people who brought Tricky the attention and respect he so readily craved), Tricky left with his royalties for the anonymity of New York. His one-off EP release for NY based Payday records Tricky Presents Grassroots is viewed by many as evidence of his blatant desire to be seen as both an MC and a hip-hop producer. That may have been his intention, to escape from the typecast role of rent-a-gob and doom preacher by going back to his musical roots. But by only using MCs on two of the five tracks and by employing self-consciously leftfield production, nothing could be further from the truth. Interestingly, despite the fact that he is merely presenting the material, Tricky takes up more than his fair share of time on the EP. This help to make Grassroots more like an extension of the work on Nearly God than something that would push these new artists into the limelight.

The Hillfiguzes’ “Heaven Youth Hell” could, on first listen, be passed off as some stereotypical hip-hop with its main hook being a sample lifted from the Beastie’s “Hold it Now, Hit it” and typical East Coast confrontational ��guns and money’ raps from the 2 MCs. But Tricky’s appearance on the intro and outro of the song singing a snatch of Bob Marley’s “Time will Tell” over and over in a gargoyle style voice doesn’t do much to benefit the track at all; in fact it rigidly jars in the way that Diddy and Dupri’s interruptions sometimes do. Laveda Davis’ duet with Tricky, “Devil’s Helper”, glues a slowed down fire bell to a snip of blues vocal which trudges along at a codeine OD pace. It’s only when Tricky hands over the production reins to someone else and acts as a co-producer/mixer that we get something approaching a straightforward piece of R & B music. 98% of “Live w’Yo Self” is a sample of the overly used and very familiar Mad Lads “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love” guitar intro, but the Tricky penned lyrics on God, the devil and erections balance the predictable production. The really notable track here is the mightily belligerent “Tricky Kid”, which can also be found on Pre-Millennium Tension with a rejigged and better beat. In fact both versions are startlingly close to a normal hip-hop production. The song deals with Tricky’s new-found fame and how everyone now wants a piece of him now. His flow is straightforward, sticking to verse, chorus and a simple line rhyme structure; so why is Tricky still pretty much ignored by hip-hop?

Sure, Tricky seems comfortable using hip-hop's braggadocio style lyrics in his music, though uses interviews to let off steam about the majority of his many beefs and lay into past allies and contributors. Maybe the choices of darker subject matter and his avoidance of staple subjects of commercial hip-hop are enough to create this distance. But, if we believe this, even the wordier and allegedly less myopic underground scene has never really opened up for him.

The key, though, is that Tricky never really tried to be accepted in the first place. He is too much of a reactionary to ever tie himself down to one genre; his natural reaction to praise is to do the exact opposite on the next release. In as fickle a genre as hip-hop, this approach was and is not looked kindly upon. Thus, Tricky’s unique position during this period was in limbo between the worlds of hip-hop and the avant-garde; between two different realities, the need to express the real life of the inside world and the real life of the outside world. Being real for Tricky seems to mean being aware of and expressing some deep inner confusion and hurt, more than expressing outward street realities. Hip-hop, being a more guarded reluctant musical community, drew away from Tricky while the more avant-garde/art-school rock tradition adopted him as a native son.

The first taste of Pre-Millennium Tension, his second official LP, came with the “Christiansands” single. Tricky’s vocals are pushed higher up in the mix than Martina’s here, but he’s rapping over her on purpose. The song laughingly questions the validity of being a part of a ��you and me’ unit, and he’s spitting bitterly on the idea of the satisfying, fulfilling relationship with lines like ��when you talk you make me cringe’. His vocals sound altered to make them more guttural, but there are no effects here; he’s just naturally fucked up his own voice. An ugly grinding bass pulse offsets the kindergarten chorus and the sampled and clipped surf guitar melody, ramming the dark and light together.

Under the pseudonym of The Imposter, Elvis Costello remixed “Christiansands”, stretching it from a healthy four to a dubbed up seven minutes of edited words and music on the precipice of menace. In return Tricky remixed “Distorted Angel”, from All This Useless Beauty, taking Costello’s disturbing imagery and clear strong voice into Nearly God territory with murky and oddly organic sounds shifting from left to right with only a metronomic dulled bell to keep time. The third track here, and winner of the prize for the worst material that Tricky has ever put his name to, is “Flynn” a song consisting entirely of a 2.30 repeated loop of a slowed down sample from Chill Rob E’s “Bad Dreams”; the definition of filler.

The resultant album, though, was nearly perfect. While Maxinquaye may have ushered in the zeitgeist, this is his best LP to date. A naked violet painted female holds a glowing red apocalyptic globe hiding her genitalia, making all the more obvious the homophonic pun of Pre-Menstrual/Pre-Millennium Tension. The inner sleeve shows a male in the same pose with a glowing red dildo also imprinted with recognisable land masses.

The album, as a whole, is harsher than anything he had done before or after and sonically nothing like his debut, using industrial Lynch/Tractor soundscapes and palpitating metallics as moody structures. It’s as if he created an initial verse/chorus melodic demo and then he took these songs and obfuscated them with grime, pulled them apart and spliced them back together and splashed with broken glass. The processed burning beats loop of Martina’s cover of “Bad Dreams” is unrelentingly solid, the pressure building steadily as spiralling guitar feedback swarms around the mix. In contrast the other hip-hop cover which Martina also handles solo, Rakim’s “Lyrics of Fury”, relies on looser live percussion playing and low bass vibrations to back up her more than capable flow. With this unleashing of energy blatant on the LP, the accompanying tour showed a band eager to display their enthusiasm for the music by pushing it several steps further. Tricky’s live evolution had grown from DJ sets and PAs through to (attempted) live recreations by musicians for hire to the furious transformations that the PMT touring band put together. Songs were extended into improvisational jams with Tricky shaking and screaming couplets lyrics, while the band ploughed through grooves, keeping the songs boiling just below splintering chaos.

Tricky’s often overlooked but definitive classic, Pre-Millennium Tension is all about frustration, hostility, beauty and energy. The album also gives the listener a chance to be impressed with original lyrics, as opposed to those recycled from the past found on Maxinquaye. The other main distinction here is the different approach to the way the voices are used. They no longer seem to mesh; instead jarring and fighting for space on the mic. Out of the eleven tracks, only five of them feature both Martina and Tricky, and only two of these (“Sex Drive” and “Vent”) feature any reasonable interaction. The punishing gloom, breaking glass and metal beats of “Vent” sets the tone for the twisted relationship between Martina and Tricky (the song has too many similarities to their personal circumstances for it to be an invented narrative) and the screaming friction of their life together.

“My Evil Is Strong” and “Bad Things” are where all the mysticism centered around Tricky really started to become a part of his already warped media persona. Both songs are strange tirades about manipulating energy and using it to hurt someone, wishing car crashes and gun suicide upon people. The music is light, seemingly oblivious to the suggested danger of the words. This is an interesting theory which artists like Genesis P-Orridge have worked heavily upon in the past; that focusing energy through visualisation can manifest or focus the mind to make actual events occur. As odd as those songs are, at least they fit into our view of Tricky’s paranoid and mashed world easily enough, “Makes Me Wanna Die” does not. A beautiful but empty song consisting of percussion and lone guitar, it’s worth remembering that the lyrics are Tricky’s, despite being sung by Martina. It’s these a very rare and honest glimpse into his weakness, hurt and loss—a shard of quiet on a LP of noise and force. The only major flaw here is the final track, the Costello sampling "Piano" which ends the LP on a retarded slump with its repetitive sound, building neither atmosphere nor involvement.

After the completion of his second LP of the year, Tricky once again helped Neneh Cherry to record ten or so tracks during the sessions for her Man album. The majority of these remain unheard because reportedly her management felt they were too uncommercial for a comeback. Aside from "Together Now" (actually found on Man) four other tracks appeared as b-sides, scattered across her three singles. The commercial charms of Cherry (I am restraining myself from using the word sassy which seems to be always bandied around her) coupled with Tricky’s raw experimental style and the studio experience of engineer Mark Saunders was a marriage made in heaven, their specialities overlapping into something more fresh than anything Cherry has done since.

“Devotion” follows the tried and true Tricky style of combining washes of sad analogue keys and bony beats, but with the beautiful slightly reverberated descending piano line on the chorus. Cherry drops her sassy style long enough to reveal a yearning to understand the complications of relationships. This theme of intimacy rears its head again and again in her collaborative work, as well as his own. The elements of “I Wanna Know” have been put together to resemble an uplifting basic, cleanly produced garage band tune; the guitar, organ, hand claps are there with an element of bounce to them. "Crackbaby" is the mouldiest of the bunch, sounding like a down tuned chalky version of Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear". There's an aura of plastic menace around the whole song, and even sonic trickery like looped throaty coughs and the cat/baby mewls in the background don’t do much. Best of all is "Had You in Me" with its sad salvation army horns amongst sampled ODB moans, a slowed down Gahan/Gore vocal and a horn part chopped and lifted from the Angel Heart soundtrack. A magnificent example of the worlds of Tricky and Cherry clashing with Saunders as the mediator.

Finally in 1996 for remixes, Tricky worked with Bush on their Deconstructed remix LP. Originally released on the b-side of their MTV faux Cobain epic “Swallowed”, Tricky’s production of Bush’s version of New Order’s Joy Division track “In a Lonely Place” also found it’s way onto The Crow II OST. Having met through Dave Dorrell who was managing Bush at the time, Tricky was only too happy to praise their determination and grounded nature at the time. Of course several years later he reversed this opinion and fickly laid into them as only he can. Sounding fairly similar to the original, the processing on Rossdale’s vocals is pretty awful; whether this is covering up his LA-isms or his Curtis-isms is open to debate.

Having established himself primarily through his furious release schedule at this point, it’s disappointing that the extra material on his promotional singles for his strongest LP was mostly previously released. The “Tricky Kid” singles culled two of the five tracks from Grassroots EP and “Smoking Beagles” had been released several months earlier on 12” by Sub Sub, who wrote and performed its music (and then went on to become Doves). Tricky growls and threatens that he’s “fucking Ronald Regan, cos I’m pagan” in the middle of half cut battle rhymes over an echoing, layered fifties space rock which sounds sue-ably similar to “The Pink Room” theme from Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me. His own “Makes Me Wanna Die - Extremix” is abysmal, a deadpan recitation of the lyrics as if disassociating himself from the words over another achingly dull loop. All was not lost though, as there is a version of “Suffocated Love” recorded live on UK music showcase “Later with Jools Holland” (already featured on one of his compilation LPs). Backed with the same instrumentation as the LP version, this performance is lighter and spacier and even swings a little due to the excellent strummed guitar work.

1997

An inexplicably quiet year for Tricky, in which his remix of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” was released to incomprehensibility from fans of both artists. The anticipation and speculation over what magic Tricky could work with a Biggie accapella was maddeningly much more interesting than the actual final product. While the possibilities are endless, Tricky laid a tired robotic beat under a lazy treble-free mix of car screeches and heating ducts warming up. A huge wasted opportunity.

Tricky produced and duetted on the Grease favourite “Summer Nights” with Cath Coffey on her solo LP, Mind the Gap. Unsurprisingly it sounds absolutely nothing at all like the original and is only barely recognisable by the lyrics. It seems to have been done fairly straight as well, no ironic posturing or sniggering going on.

Stereo MCs took a little break from their five year holiday after finishing Connected to remix “Makes Me Wanna Die” for it’s single release. Retaining Martina’s vocals, the remix lightened the mood considerably, placing it within a typical but entertaining production of flute, trumpet and guitar wed to their trademark accomplished groove. The “Acoustic Version” mixed by Tricky, is sadly not an acoustic version. There is an acoustic guitar, but the piece is dominated by an unchanging Middle Eastern drone and crackled beats. To its detriment, this mix turns up the dark but switches off the melancholy. The rest of the tracks here make this an altogether disappointing collection in support of a great A-side. A Guy called Gerald tackled “Piano” with his “Green Stinky Mix” and while it’s an improvement on the original and injects some animation into the beats (unlike the Pumpkin 12” remixes), it’s melodically barren, as heavy breaks are chopped into chunks across the track effectively bring to a halt any semblance of a flow. A brief collaboration with Afrika Izlam gave birth to the bouncy but boring persecutory “Here Come the Aliens” employing foghorns and sped up strings for a melody. Both this release and the “Tricky Kid” single were the first releases which felt rushed and substandard; it’s easy to imagine Tricky scrabbling for anything to fill up this two CD single release regardless of quality.

1998

Tricky released three independently financed white label 12”s early this year before getting down to the serious business of promoting and touring his new LP Angels With Dirty Faces. The first of these, “Divine Comedy”, is one of the most virulent anti-record company tracks ever recorded; slamming both Polygram and its subsidiary, Island Records, in retaliation for racist comments made by an executive. Using a backing track which rose and fell around the enraged attack and pregnant lulls of flailing guitars, PE horn screams, bleeps and frantic drumming, Tricky launched a six minute stream of consciousness rant against his bosses. Amidst this vengeful clatter he calls out Polygram as racists, gunrunners and ��fucking niggers’, making it quite clear that he’s not afraid to get dropped by Island. Many recording artists bitch about their labels in interviews; few go as far as naming names and paying to release their attacks on vinyl. The second 12” was “Can’t Freestyle”, as aimless as “Divine Comedy” was direct. It consists of scratchy violin and breathing apparatus beats with Tricky whispering about, amongst other nonsense, the peculiar rumours that Finley Quaye may or may not have started about Tricky being his Uncle. The third was the sneaky release of “Cradle to the Grave” which he’d recorded with Grace Jones and was supposed to have come out on his own Durban Poison label. But as had been the form in the past, they fell out and the songs were put away until one of the two artists grew up. Luckily, this primitive spastic beat pandemonium managed to slip out.

The proper LP, Angels with Dirty Faces, is Tricky’s oddest collections of songs because (with a few exceptions) they are some of his most commercial sounding, clearest and sharpest productions. Even with such obvious melodies it still got rammed critically and sank commercially, ironic as his whiny lyrics about critics and the music business make this a thoroughly unappealing listen.

Where in the past he had drawn lyrical inspiration from his fears and insecurities, adding hip-hop slang to his meanderings through his own subconscious, here his obsession with the critics and record companies spilled over into the studio. The lyrics began to really grate, coming from someone who readily admits that he got everything he asked for and was treated with kid gloves by his label. The lyrics here don’t depict a man at war with a flawed and corrupt industry; it’s a baby flinging his expensive toys out of his pram. Without this lyrical aspect AWDF could’ve been a strong modern blues release solidifying his reputation as an artist of worth with something to offer fans and casual listeners.

Musically, some tracks slip easily into this Blues mould; the picked riff on the sleeping pill funk of “Mellow” slowed and stretched to a foggy crawl and the preceding New Orleans funeral swing of “Broken Homes”. Stereotypically, modern blues releases are associated with guitar solos by men called King and lots of ��My Baby/Honey’ lyrics (“Mellow” nearly overdoses on these) lamenting some hardship. What Tricky regards and discusses here as personal injustices merely come over without any real depth of pain or emotion. “Demise”, whilst musically outstanding, is hampered by the vocal performances of Martina and Tricky and the requisite jabs at the industry. Martina’s solo performance “Singin’ the Blues” (an ancient jazz standard) sounds as though her vocals had been lifted straight from a gramophone source dumping them over one of his funkiest morphing breaks, twists of didgeridoo and a constant circular stammering guitar.

Much of this music is torn down to the essentials of melody and rhythm, down to the bone in some places. But this is more obviously harmonious and enjoyable where Nearly God was defiantly low rent and obtuse. Using one of Prince’s ex-engineers Susan Rogers seems to have enabled the work to be more focused and clear without pandering to whatever was hot at the time. The sound is refined in places to amazingly beautiful simplicity, but also showcases that the discerning ear for the line between lo-fi experimentation (“Carriage for Two”) and plain old boring (“Talk to Me”) that was starting to slip. A good example of this is shown on the b-sides to the lead double a-side singles “Money Greedy” and “Broken Homes”. The petulant mess of a song like “Anti-Histamine” is redeemed only by having Martina directly lift Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” chorus to drag it from utter irrelevance. Managing to serve both as a warning to the ladies not to cheat on him and a dig at the press interest in Pre-Millennium Tension’s title (��I keep tellin' em, don't give a fuck about millennium’) he seems at times unable (or unaware of the need sometimes) to push beyond a bare noisy loop.

The so called hip-hop mix of “Broken Homes” is a little more strident than the original, but offers little new besides Martina’s vocal effected to sound as though she is singing them through a rolled up newspaper standing at the other end of the studio from the drum machine. Such easily ignored material was thrown into further relief when compared to Martina cooing and mmming in the background on “360°”. Plink-plonk percussion and a horn section straight out of Raindogs back a self-improvement mantra with the duo intoning ��I'm on my knees, Three-sixty degrees, Make a better man’. “Time” (or “Time Slippin’” depending on where you live) allegedly showcased Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Wendy and Lisa, though there is barely enough going on here amidst the clashing rhythms to keep the man who presses play-and-record busy, never mind a host of collaborators. Again the Waits’ influence on this piece is screamingly obvious, possibly due to the fact that he had hired some of Waits’ band for these sessions.

“Money Greedy” recycles the music from “Divine Comedy”, but the vocal delivery is a little more lacklustre making it nowhere near as violent or unhinged, this time berating those who put money over art. He later claimed it was all about Massive Attack, which seems to be patently ridiculous. Either Tricky has spent his whole career being wronged and ripped off by nearly everyone he’s worked with or the paranoia that was believed to be a side effect of his huge spliff intake is a much, much more deep rooted problem.

The live shows for this tour were even more intense and strung out than those around P-MT, with most of the tracks going off on extended explosive jams. In comparison, the album is a totally different animal; tamer and cleaner, swaying between leftfield R & B and attempts at punk. The band would lock into grooves, spacing off into harder riffs while Tricky bashed out loops and drones from his keyboard. Instead of sticking to the lyrical script he would introduce mini-mantras—screaming out snatches of lyrics; all of this succeeded in building tension and unleashing it in waves. Played live "Tear Out my Eyes" (or “You” as the live version was better known) was an aggressively raw hurricane of energy, the band starting off the song at a breakneck pace already on the verge of splintering apart. “Record Companies” the track that rounds off Angels with Dirty Faces, is an extended 33rpm dirge of lavatorial proportions, ending the LP on a low note just as “Piano” did on P-MT. Live it was titled “I Don’t Make Records, I Sell Guns” (again referencing Polygram’s reputed links with arms trade) and avoided the Biggie and 2Pac clichés of the original by jumping from thought to thought

This preoccupation with hip-hop again rears its head with the nearly normal attempt on “Six Minutes”. The promise that his attempts at incorporating elements of hip-hop into his sonic world, however intentional, offered up the hope that there was still life beyond the myopic US stranglehold on hip-hop, and the UK's insistence in replicating it as closely as possible. Groups like Gunshot and London Posse had played a large part in introducing credible UK regional (London, in these cases) accents and ragga elements into hip-hop but still the UK clung to the American sonic template and the 'a man, his dick and his money' dominated lyrics. But as mentioned before, Tricky doesn't really rap and his productions have more in common with Harry Partch than DJ Premier. And, on his Notorious BIG remix and this year’s remix of Cam’ron’s “Horse and Carriage” there is little to suggest that Tricky was courting these audiences anyway.

Angels with Dirty Faces was the last instance where Tricky worked with Martina as the band known as Tricky, a decision based probably as much on their personal relationship’s deterioration as it was with his belligerence towards certain sections of the UK press. In particular he cited two interviews which he had given to UK style magazine The Face as reasons for his decision "When I read that Face thing, I started thinking we should split up...when we do split up and there's more press I'm going to blame Andrew and Craig {Face article authors}, those two people are directly to blame." ^

Finally, Tricky was approached, being a fairly high profile poster boy for stoners, to contribute to the soundtrack of Half Baked. The five tracks he produced each have different reasons why they’re worthy of being shunted into a dark cupboard and left there for good. They range from the very boring (Cibo Matto) to the unnecessary (Black Grape) to the ignorable (Nonchalant) and as for his production job on UB40’s “I Get Lifted”, I doubt very much whether Tricky actually had anything to do with this at all as it’s not even acknowledged on their official discography.

1998. The year when the rollercoaster dipped over the edge of the quality peak? Most likely. Tricky’s lyrics were now beginning to lack any central threads, slipping off into random and unwieldy phrases in order to rhyme and much of his music for other artists was beginning to look like 30 minutes work at a sequencer, if he managed not to fall out with them before release, that is. From here, sadly, it’s mostly downhill.

^ Big Issue Magazine May 1998



--- Part One ---
--- Part Three ---



By: Scott McKeating
Published on: 2004-01-12
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