Blue Lines

1991 album by Massive Attack

Blue Lines is the first album by British electronica group Massive Attack, released on 8 April 1991 (see 1991 in music) by Virgin Records.

Blue Lines
Studio album by
Released8 April 1991 (UK)
6 August 1991 (US)
Recorded1990, Bristol and London
GenreTrip hop
LabelVirgin Records, Circa
ProducerMassive Attack, Cameron McVey, Jonny Dollar
Massive Attack chronology
Blue Lines Protection

Blue Lines is usually considered the first trip hop album,[1] although the term was not used commonly until years later. The album was a success in the United Kingdom, reaching #13 in the albums chart; sales were limited elsewhere. A mix of electronic music, hip hop, dub music, '70s soul music and reggae, the album established Massive Attack as one of the most best British bands of the 1990s and the founder of trip hop's Bristol Sound.[2] Music critic Simon Reynolds stated that the album also marked a change in electronic/dance music, "a shift toward a more interior, meditational sound. The songs on Blue Lines run at 'spliff' tempos – from a mellow, moonwalking 90 beats per minute ...down to a positively torpid 67 bpm."[3] The group also drew inspiration from concept albums in various genres by artists such as Pink Floyd, Public Image Ltd., Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock and Isaac Hayes.[3]

Blue Lines featured breakbeats, sampling, and rapping on a number of tracks, but the design of the album differed from common hip hop. Massive Attack approached the American-born hip hop movement from an underground British perspective, as well as incorporating live instruments into the mixes. It features the vocals of Shara Nelson and Horace Andy, along with the rapping of Tricky Kid. Blue Lines proved to be popular in the club scene, as well as on college radio stations.[4]

Daddy G said about the making of the album:

We were lazy Bristol twats. It was Neneh Cherry who kicked our arses and got us in the studio. We recorded a lot at her house, in her baby's room. It stank for months and eventually we found a dirty nappy behind a radiator. I was still DJing, but what we were trying to do was create dance music for the head, rather than the feet. I think it's our freshest album, we were at our strongest then.[5]


  1. Guy Garcia (25 October 1998). "Trip-Hop Reinvents Itself to Take on the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
  2. Schwartz, Mark. "Planet Rock: Hip Hop Supa National." In The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 361-72. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Reynolds, Simon (1998). Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture. Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 0415923735.
  4. Schwartz, Mark. "Planet Rock: Hip Hop Supa National."
  5. Ben Thompson (20 June 2004). "Blue Lines, Massive Attack". The Observer. Retrieved 13 October 2009.