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Portishead

Portishead may not have invented trip-hop, but they were among the first to popularize it, particularly in America. Taking their cue from the slow, elastic beats that dominated Massive Attack's Blue Lines and adding elements of cool jazz, acid house, and soundtrack music, Portishead created an atmospheric, alluringly dark sound. The group wasn't as avant-garde as Tricky, nor as tied to dance traditions as Massive Attack; instead, it wrote evocative pseudo-cabaret pop songs that subverted their conventional structures with experimental productions and rhythms of trip-hop. As a result, Portishead appealed to a broad audience -- not just electronic dance and alternative rock fans, but thirtysomethings who found techno, trip-hop, and dance as exotic as worldbeat. Before Portishead released their debut album, Dummy, in 1994, trip-hop's broad appeal wasn't apparent, but the record became an unexpected success in Britain, topping most year-end critics polls and earning the prestigious Mercury Music Prize; in America, it also became an underground hit, selling over 150,000 copies before the group toured the U.S. Following the success of Dummy, legions of imitators appeared over the next two years, but Portishead remained quiet as they worked on their second album.

Named after the West Coast shipping town where Geoff Barrow grew up, Portishead formed in Bristol, England, in 1991. Prior to the group's formation, Barrow had worked as a tape operator at the Coach House studio, where he met Massive Attack. Through that group, he began working with Tricky, producing the rapper's track for a Sickle Cell charity album. Barrow also wrote songs for Neneh Cherry's Homebrew, though only "Somedays" appeared on the record. Around the time of Portishead's formation, he had begun to earn a reputation as a remix producer, working on tracks by Primal Scream, Paul Weller, Gabrielle, and Depeche Mode. Barrow met Beth Gibbons, who had been singing in pubs, in 1991 on a job scheme. Over the next few years, the pair began writing music, often with jazz guitarist Adrian Utley, who had previously played with both Big John Patton and the Jazz Messengers.

Before releasing a recording, Portishead completed the short film To Kill a Dead Man, an homage to '60s spy movies. Barrow and Gibbons acted in the noirish film and provided the soundtrack, which earned the attention of Go! Records. By the fall, Portishead had signed with Go! and their debut album, Dummy, was released shortly afterward. Dummy was recorded with engineer Dave MacDonald, who played drums and drum machines, and guitarist Utley, who rounded out Portishead's lineup.

Both Barrow and Gibbons were media-shy -- the vocalist refused to participate in any interviews -- which meant that the album received little attention outside of the weekly U.K. music press, which praised the album and its two singles, "Numb" and "Sour Times," heavily. Soon, Go! and Portishead had developed a clever marketing strategy based on the group's atmospheric videos that began to attract attention. Melody Maker, Mixmag, and The Face named Dummy as 1994's album of the year, and early in 1995, "Glory Box" debuted at number 13 without any radio play. Around the same time, "Sour Times" entered regular rotation on MTV in America. Within a few weeks, Dummy and "Sour Times" were alternative rock hits in the U.S. Back in the U.K., the album had crossed over into the mainstream, becoming a fixture in the British Top 40. In July, the record won the Mercury Music Prize for Album of the Year, beating highly touted competition from Blur, Suede, Oasis, and Pulp.

Following the Mercury Music Prize award, Barrow retreated to Coach House to begin work on Portishead's second album. The self-titled record finally appeared in September 1997. The live PNYC followed late the next year. Portishead went on hiatus starting in 1999, and Barrow, Utley and Gibbons worked on their own projects. In 2001, Barrow formed Invada Records, an experimental label that included Koolism on its roster. Barrow and Utley also recorded a cover of the instrumental rock classic "Apache" as the Jimi Entley Sound that was released as a limited edition 7" single in 2002. The pair also worked as producers, with Barrow working under the moniker Fuzzface on Stephanie McKay's McKay album in 2003, and Barrow and Utley co-produced the Coral's 2005 album The Invisible Invasion. Gibbons collaborated with Rustin' Man, a.k.a. former Talk Talk member Paul Webb on the 2003 album Out of Season (Gibbons had also appeared on a few tracks by Webb's previous project, ORang).

Portishead reconvened in 2005, performing their first live dates in seven years, including an appearance at the Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol, and recording material for their next album. Their version of "Un Jour Comme un Autre (Requiem for Anna)" appeared on 2006's Serge Gainsbourg tribute Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisted, and in 2007 the band curated the Nightmare Before Christmas All Tomorrow's Parties festival. In 2008, a decade after their last album, Portishead returned with Third, the trio's most challenging, unpredictable work yet. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Comments

scopeland09
love Portishead soooo much, need some P J Harvey now :)
I really dig there phat. Beats word!
Been listening to and loving Portishead since Dummy. They opened my eyes and ears up to so much music that I was missing out on. This is timeless and classic music....
was watching a old 90s movie in they were in the soundtrack so i looked them up, i love them
lov em
hmm, I remember playing dummy in college over and over, the Portishead album was not nearly as good. Never heard the last one
43-99-1754-3 6 6 / - 7 7 6 5 4
BeWaRe!!!! Apparently from reading some of these comments, this song has the power to turn you into a lesbian.
This group is great!
chilloutslut _
Michellerodr i g u e z
chilloutslut _
Michellerodr i g u e z
chilloutslut _
Michellerodr i g u e z
chilloutslut _
Michellerodr i g u e z
This song makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive. Soo good
I'm listening to Portishead Radio. No commercials
don't read this because it actually works. you will be kissed on the nearest friday by the love of your life. tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this, you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
xlees
Amazing at an emotional level. Transcendant . Wow.
Properly amazing. Portishead is the best! How could someone not like Portishead? It makes me feel so many positive emotions! Overwhelming l y great music! Bravo Portishead, bravo ;)
myspatgo
Love them too
Portishead is absolutely devastating I love her ,...pathos !!!
hunter.oxley
I stumbled upon this on youtube and fell in love. I missed this music in it's infancy, but am thankful for youtube and pandora so I can catch up!
Follow me!! I follow back. (:
jeffreymqs64 1
Guys if you want to make a few extra bucks per day using your computer go to BLUDOS.COM You can take surveys for cash there. You can just try it. It's FREE.
claricentp91 7
I'm making around $70+ daily by just answering surveys from home. You can do the same thing just visit BLUDOS.COM (tHANK mE).
shawnnavuz71 1
I'm making around $70+ daily by just answering surveys from home. You can do the same thing just visit BLUDOS.COM (tHANK mE).
Hot, sexy, alluring, seductive... o h yes...all that and more!
Glory Box reminds me of King Crimson.
Don't read this because it really works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life however if you do not post this comment to at least three songs, you'll die in two days. Now you've started reading this don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes. When it's done press F6 your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is scary because it actually works.
Only You is definitely their best song but I cant get anyone to agree with me. There must be someone who sees this! Whip, whip, whip, like that!
I love portishead por siempre :)
I love this! I saw them play at the greek in Berkley, nothing compares it was indescribabl e .
@gambler . . . It's you.
This is music... maybe I'm just not getting it or her?
azmoden10
love dalf1969 comment...:)
azmoden10
funny
posting a chain letter illustrates to the entire world your IQ is = to that of a tiny rodent.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Well played Courtney, well played indeed.
@Courtney Ewwwwww
It's like she's gyrating over the greatest part of your ear drums. I'd give her a reason to be a woman.. You can never go wrong with Portishead.
I love when beautiful Canadian strippers get down to this. Loonies, toonies, and lap dances , oh my!
dalf1969
Great lap dancing song,,,,,,,
This beeutifull lady can sing like an angel live or recorded. plnyc will live on 4eva as one of the best sounding albums of all time. Wish I could see them live=+
Cowboys is a good song.
This is the hottest sex C.D... And at the same time Im done with F...in men!
adamprint66
The Shiznit.. just the right amount of everything..
love portishead!! ! ! !
Got my mind right to this song!
Music for my soul!
271998418
I really have a thing for Portishead. They got me into the bluesy, slow jazz feel of newer trip hop and house bands. Love the haunting vibe of their music.
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