All-Time Albums: #77



Safe From Harm 5:16 (UK single, #25)
2 One Love 4:48
3 Blue Lines 4:21
4 Be Thankful For What You’ve Got 4:09
5 Five Man Army 6:04
Unfinished Sympathy 5:08 (UK single, #13)
7 Daydreaming 4:14 (UK single, #81)
8 Lately 4:26
Hymn Of The Big Wheel 6:36 (UK single, #27)

The debut long-player from Bristolian acolytes of Neneh Cherry and her Wild Bunch enterprise, Blue Lines has become a modern-day classic despite never reaching the UK Top 10. The soundscapes got darker and more complex on later albums, almost impenetrably so, but on Blue Lines you have the full quota of 3D, Tricky Kid, Daddy G and Horace Andy in effect, providing a variety sometimes lacking on Protection, Mezzanine, 100th Window and Heligoland.

Right from the moody opening bars of Safe From Harm, it’s obvious these fellas are not messing around; 3D’s masterful sense of menace coupled with Shara Nelson’s defiant vocals set the tone in stunning fashion. Nelson also lent her pipes to the album’s defining moment, the Top 20 smash Unfinished Sympathy (when the band’s name was predictably censored in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War and they’d be known as Massive – even the original copies of the album reflected this).

My favourite groove on the record, Daydreaming, turned out to be a wholesale steal of the 1984 album cut Mambo from a Wally “Level 42” Badarou solo set, but it remains a wonderful showcase for all the members. And if you’re going to base a track around sampled loops, Mambo was an inspired choice.

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