GREAT MOMENTS IN MUSIC – No36 – Unfinished Sympathy By Massive Attack

In no particular order some of my favourite music moments. No36 Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack.

One of the most original and consistent acts to emerge from the Bristol-based trip hop movement, Massive Attack have made more than their fair share of extraordinary records.

I’ve chosen Unfinished Sympathy because it’s a perfect single – dramatic, self-contained and featuring the soaring, powerhouse vocals of co-writer Shara Nelson.

Only the second single from debut album Blue Lines, it shows the band’s highly developed grasp of sampling and studio technique, even at this early stage in their career.


String orchestration courtesy of Wil Malone, helped ensure the trio of Robert “3D” Del Naja, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall had a sure-fire classic on their hands.


The video was equally ground-breaking, directed by Baillie Walsh. it’s one continuous shot tracking Nelson as walks the streets of L.A., apparently oblivious of the events going on around her.


Both song and video would prove highly influential. not least to The Verve, who’s Bittersweet Symphony is not so much an homage as a facsimile. Hell, even the song titles are similar.


Richard Ashcroft’s men not only borrow the sampling and strings blueprint to great effect, but also steal the Steadicam video technique, with a single shot following the singer as he barges his way down a busy London street.


One of those rare songs which transcends genre, Unfinished Sympathy sounds as fresh and innovative today as when it was released in 1991.


*Got a Great Musical Moment you’d like to share? Send me your suggestion via the contact form and if I like it, I’ll feature it and give you a mention. Looking forward to hearing from you.


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