Massive Attack vs Mad Professor – No Protection

Massive Attack’s second album ‘Protection’ is a very good album indeed, but far less intriguing and mezmerising than the groups other works (notably the utterly seminal masterpieces of ‘Blue Lines’ and ‘Mezzanine’). ‘Protection’ has far less intrigue and undertones lurking beneath the surface; reggae/dub veteran Neal Fraser (aka Mad Professor)’s re-working of ‘Protection’ however is a masterstroke. Each song on ‘Protection’ (mercifully not including their botched cover of The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’) is discected and twisted into entirely new forms, making them sound unearthly and beautiful. Fraser does not set out to better the original blueprint but to make a new record entirely and it works on so many levels. Everything But The Girl vocalist Tracey Thorne’s contributions on the original album were lyrically thoughtful and melancholic; Fraser takes her most expressive and emotional syllables (as opposed to actual lyrics) and pulls them in and out of a reflective, foggy echoing cavern of ghostly guitars and stumbling drum patterns. Craig Armstrong’s piano on ‘Weather Storm’, rather than providing the understated flowing melodies of the original, rises and falls suddenly, as if the piano is being pushed slowly down several flights of stairs. There is a woozy, unfocused feel to the record. It feels like everything is in slow-motion, like lying jet-lagged and sleepless in a busy airport terminal, your brain barely keeping up with everything happening around you. Every dark or emotional undertone found on ‘Protection’ is emphasized until any original lyrics are irrelevant, since the music speaks for itself.

‘Protection’ is a very good album in its own right and this is not a replacement, but ‘No Protection’ is equally accomplished and interesting in entirely different ways. It’s as if the glue holding the original record together has disappeared, leaving each part to drift freely, unearthing more and more fascinating and strangely beautiful combinations. This brilliant marriage of dub and trip-hop still sounds incredibly ahead of its time.
Listen to this: in an airport terminal
Key track: Moving Dub (Better Things)



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