Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Dummy – Portishead [#400]

Dummy - Portishead The nineties. A time of new beginnings. New Labour. New shoes. New hair. New protests. For some the nineties revolved around the hype over the potential “new age dawn” that the hairy bearded types, yogurt weavers, tofu knitters and floaty vagina types promised us would arise at midnight on the 1st January 2000, further fuelled by the likes of X Files and acceptance of associated “alternative” theories and television and other media’s thirst to provide Forteana via whatever programme concept they could think up over a copy of Fortean Times and a really strong joint.

The sound tracks to most of these programmes included songs from today’s album. You could almost guarantee it. More so, the band’s music began to appear in nineties dramas aimed at twenteenies such as This Life and the like. Indeed, if anything says nineties music to me, it’s Portishead.

But my introduction to their music came a long time before BBC documentaries about Parapsychology, UFOs or ghosties. It was a former acquaintance who introduced me to their music. Round about the same time as the same former acquaintance introduced me to Lara Croft. I was transfixed. Not just by Lara Croft’s figure, but by the weirdness that tracks such as Mysterons and Sour Times conveyed.  Later, that same album became to be even more influential and prominent in my life.

Listening to it again for the music project, it brought back all kinds of memories. Memories long unstirred. Fond memories. Memories of experimentation. Memories of people I haven’t seen or heard from in a very long time. Happy memories. Memories of a blossoming time for me and many of my contemporary peers.

Such is the power of music.

We’ll see Portishead five more times in this music project, again, all albums that were released at significant points in my life. So I’ll no doubt talk more about the band then. But for now, I’ll leave this entry with a song that should haunt you as much as it haunts me.

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Desolation Row – Portishead [#364]

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 19.15.03See I like Portishead. I am particularly fond of their first album Dummy and their third album Third but the second album proved illusive to me until relatively recently.

The reason for this was because, following release, I was told “It’s shit” and “It’s not as good as the first one” by music loving friends of mine whose musical knowledge I once respected.

Of course many years passed following the release of Dummy and trips to HMV waned due to the availability of music through the likes of Amazon and file sharing. Indeed, many years would also pass until the release of Third but that’s a different story.

So when it came about that the internet was the gateway to all the music ever I set about to find the second album. Of course Wikipedia was in its infancy, the web was a bit shit and I had difficulty actually finding the second album. Probably because lots of people also had friends who told them that Portishead’s second album was shit.

To find the album I did what anyone else would do; search on newsgroups for the keyword “Portishead”. It was during this first search I found a wealth of different versions of Dummy as well as compilations featuring the band. I also came across this album, Desolation Row.

Desolation Row is a bootleggy fan compilation of live-ish performances of the band including Later with Jools Holland, Glastonbury (recorded off the radio by the sound of it), some French gig and a studio rehearsal. Mysterons appears twice and so does Sour Times and it’s kind of a low budget version of Dummy with a few extra tracks. Not a good place to start to get into the band really. My suggestion is to stick with Dummy and listen to it on the worst media playing system you have instead.

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