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Portishead is a band from Bristol, England, named after the small coastal town of Portishead ('Pore-tiss-hed'), 12 miles west of Bristol. They are known for their use of Jazz samples and some hip hop beats along with various synth sounds and the hauntingly beautiful vocals of singer Beth Gibbons.
The band was formed in 1991, by keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow and singer Beth Gibbons. Barrow had previously worked with two other bands from Bristol, Massive Attack and Tricky, and decided to name his new endeavour after his hometown.
After releasing a short film (To Kill A Dead Man) and its accompanying music, Portishead signed a record deal with Go! Beat and their first album, 'Dummy', was released in 1994, and featured heavy contributions from guitarist Adrian Utley. In spite of the band's media-shyness, the album gained universal critical acclaim and was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, spawning two hit singles, "Glory Box" and "Sour Times". The album won the British Mercury Music Prize in 1995 beating albums such as 'Definitely Maybe' by Oasis and Leftfield's 'Leftism'.
Their second album, 'Portishead', was released in 1997, and featured the single "All Mine". A live album featuring new orchestral arrangements of the group's songs was recorded primarily at Roseland in New York City and released in 1998, as well as a DVD of the Roseland concert.
In the time between 'Portishead' and 'Third', Portishead collaborated with singer Tom Jones for a track on his album 'Reload', and also covered Serge Gainsbourg's "Un Jour Comme Un Autre" ("Requiem for Anna") in 2006 on the tribute album 'Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited'.
The band appeared live for the first time in seven years at the 2005 Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol. Also in 2005, Utley and Barrow produced The Coral's 'The Invisible Invasion'. Barrow along with Utley, Clive Deamer and John Baggott also assisted with the production of Stephanie McKay's 'McKay' album in 2003 under the Go!Beat label. Utley also contributed to the 'Black Cherry' album by Goldfrapp.
In December 2007, Portishead hosted the ATP Nightmare before christmas party. Portishead played live on both nights of the festival. The set included 4 new tracks from their upcoming new album. Video recordings of Portishead ATP performance can be found on youtube.
Portishead's long awaited third album simply titled 'Third' was released at the end of April 2008. The first single, 'Machine Gun', was released on April 14 as a 12" vinyl.
The band headlined Coachella 2008 and is also planning a European tour and various festival shows.
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