"Mezzanine", released in 1998, is the third studio album by British trip hop group Massive Attack, released on 20 April 1998. It was produced by Neil Davidge along with the group. The album was released on Virgin Records; singles from the album include; Risingson, Teardrop, Angel and Inertia Creeps.
"Mezzanine" features the talents of long-time Massive Attack collaborator Horace Andy, along with guest vocalists such as Elizabeth Fraser. "Mezzanine" marked the parting of band member Andrew Vowles (aka Mushroom), due to creative conflicts. An artist notably absent is Tricky who had worked with them on their two previous albums.
Musically, Mezzanine is a major departure from the jazzy and laidback sound of the first two albums (Blue Lines and Protection), invoking the dark undercurrents which had always been present in the collective's music. The album's textured and deep tone relies heavily on abstract and ambient sounds, as demonstrated in the song "Mezzanine" among others. Overall, the album was highly acclaimed by many critics; Discordant rock guitars are featured on several tracks, allegedly against the wishes of founding member Andrew Vowles, who left the band shortly after the album's release, citing creative differences.
Similar to their previous albums, the majority of the songs consists of one or more samples, ranging from Isaac Hayes to Led Zeppelin. In 1998 Manfred Mann sued Massive Attack for unauthorised use of a sample of the song "Tribute" from Manfred Mann's Earth Band's eponymous 1972 album, used in "Black Milk". The song has subsequently appeared as "Black Melt" on later releases and at live performances, with the sample removed.
"Mezzanine" was released to near-universal acclaim worldwide, and was a huge success in the UK and other parts of Europe. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at #1, and was certified Platinum (marking sales of 300,000) by the BPI on 1 May 1998. It failed to share the same success in the United States, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard 200.
Years after the album was released, it was placed on many "Best Of" lists in the UK, and even in the United States. In 2000, Q magazine placed "Mezzanine" at number 15 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 412 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The entire album was provided on Massive Attack's website for legal download many months before it was released on CD. Various other artists have since done the same, notably Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and more recently, Radiohead's "In Rainbows". It was also one of the first major uses of the MP3 compression system by a commercial organization.
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