Blue Lines

~ Release group by Massive Attack


Blue LinesCD9
  • GB1991-04-08
Circa Records (imprint of Circa Records Ltd., UK), Wild Bunch Records0777 7 86228 2 6, WBRCD 10077778622826
Blue Lines12" Vinyl9
  • GB1991-04-08
Circa Records (imprint of Circa Records Ltd., UK), Wild Bunch Records211 316, WBRLP 1077778622819
Blue LinesCD9
  • GB1991-08-06
Virgin (worldwide imprint of Virgin Records Ltd. and all its subsidiaries)CDV 3126
Blue LinesCD9
  • US1991-08-06
Virgin Records America, Inc. (DO NOT USE! please refer to either “Virgin” or “Virgin America”), BMG Direct Marketing, Inc. (BMG company that owned their direct marketing company/club editions)0777 7 86228 2 6, D148145[none]
Blue LinesCD9
  • US1991-08-06
Virgin Records America, Inc. (DO NOT USE! please refer to either “Virgin” or “Virgin America”)0777 7 86228 2 6077778622826
Blue LinesCD9
Virgin Music CanadaV2 0777 7 86228 2 6, V2 86228077778622826
Blue LinesCD9
Circa Records (imprint of Circa Records Ltd., UK), Wild Bunch Records0777 7 86228 2 6, WBRCD 15012983111128
Blue LinesCD9
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRCD 15012983111128
Blue LinesCassette9
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRMC 15012983111142
Blue LinesMiniDisc9
  • GB1998-04-06
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRMD 1077778622888
Blue Lines (Modern Masters)CD9
  • JP2002-03-29
Virgin (worldwide imprint of Virgin Records Ltd. and all its subsidiaries)VJCP-684094988006800595
Blue LinesCD9
  • JP2006-10-11
EMI Music Japan Inc. (2007-06-30 to 2013-04-01 - record company, do NOT USE as release label - check the back cover or CD surface for the imprint)TOCP-538704988006847576
Blue Lines12" Vinyl9
  • GB2012-05-22
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRLP 1077778622819
Blue Lines (2012 mix/master)Digital Media9
Virgin Catalogue[none]05099923203853
Blue Lines (2012 mix/master, deluxe collector's edition)2×12" Vinyl + CD + DVD5 + 4 + 9 + 9
  • GB2012-11-19
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRCDX15099997947516
Blue Lines (2012 mix/master)CD9
  • GB2012-11-19
Wild Bunch RecordsWBRCDR15099997947523
Blue Lines (2012 mix/master)2×Digital Media9 + 1
  • XW2012-11-19
Wild Bunch Records[none]
Blue Lines (2012 mix/master)CD9
Virgin Records (Record company, mostly used in the label ring of records manufactured in Germany by the Ariola company but can also be mentioned as a company on other Virgin releases.), Wild Bunch Records4771425602547714251
Blue Lines12" Vinyl9
Circa Records (imprint of Circa Records Ltd., UK), Virgin (worldwide imprint of Virgin Records Ltd. and all its subsidiaries), Wild Bunch Records5700960602557009606
Blue Lines (2012 mix / master)Digital Media95099972116357


associated singles/EPs:Daydreaming
Massive Attack EP
Safe From Harm
Unfinished Sympathy
part of:The Guardian 100 Best Albums Ever (number: 12) (order: 12)
Absolute Radio's The 100 Collection (number: 32) (order: 32)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2020 edition (number: 241) (order: 241)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2003 edition (number: 395) (order: 395)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 397) (order: 397)
Discogs: [info]
reviews: [info]
Allmusic: [info]
Wikidata:Q847910 [info]

CritiqueBrainz Reviews

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Twenty years on from this landmark album's release and its makers are very much a part of the mainstream, an outfit comfortably capable of selling out the nation's biggest venues and with enough column inches of acclaim behind them to build a (rather flimsy, granted) ladder to the Moon. But at the time, Massive Attack were purveyors of a sound so new that it didn't have a pigeonhole to fits its form - trip hop would not be coined for another few years, and this mash-up of dub, rap, reggae and soul caught attentions like few other releases of the time. It didn't so much hold one by the collar as set fire to their shoes.

Blue Lines wasn't produced without persuasion, though, and while it might shuffle to a remarkably assured beat, the then-trio of 3D, Daddy G and Mushroom needed a little coercion to get the puzzle pieces in their right places. The celebrated guilty party: one Neneh Cherry, a star on the back of 1989's Raw Like Sushi LP, whose championing of this group of Wild Bunch sound system sorts helped seal a record deal. And once Blue Lines was delivered, Virgin set about exploiting its singular content. Hip hop unlike its stateside purveyors, soul without bedroom intent: this wasn't quite like anything else out there. And the breakthrough would be, while hardly instant, dramatic enough to still be felt to this day.

Unfinished Sympathy alone didn't make Blue Lines the classic its standing in so many best-albums-ever charts confirms, but it ensured that the public en masse would give Massive Attack the chance to impress with their myriad approaches to music-making. While its peak position of 13 on the UK singles chart could be seen as something of a disappointment if released today, Unfinished Sympathy's video clicked with the MTV crowd - Shara Nelson's determined street-walking was immediately iconic, later referenced (read: stolen wholesale) by The Verve and parodied by Fat Les. Although it utilised samples, uncleared at the time, there was no doubting that the track signalled the arrival of a powerful pop force with unique ideas. It blew the floodgates open, and in the years that followed a thousand lesser acts aping Blue Lines' melancholy-kissed claustrophobia, bubbling basslines and smoky vocals poured into the world's bedsits and penthouses alike.

Of course, focusing on just Unfinished Sympathy doesn't tell a fraction of the story to be discovered on this album. Horace Andy's sweet, from-dark-to-light tones on the distant-thundering dread of Five Man Army, the noticeable emotional crack in Nelson's voice as she delivers the chorus of Safe From Harm, the slinky funk of Lately, Hymn of the Big Wheel's urban-evensong climax: there's a wide spectrum of delights spread across these nine tracks. And if you've never indulged before - the likelihood is slim, surely - make sure that you slip inside this enduring masterpiece as soon as you can. Arguably, Massive Attack have never bettered this debut - and certainly, they've never sounded quite this hungry and fresh since.