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Portishead Dummy

Portishead Album Reviews

Portishead were formed in the city of Bristol, where a vibrant, multi-cultural music scene spawned trip-hop in the early 1990s. Trip-hop took the beats from hip hop, and slowed them down, adding textures and songs. Along with Portishead, essentially the entire trip-hip scene originated in Bristol, with Massive Attack and Tricky also from the city.

The band took their name from a coastal town near to Bristol, and were initially a partnership between vocalist Beth Gibbons and producer Geoff Barrow. Guitarist Adrian Utley contributed heavily to their 1994 debut Dummy, and joined as an official member shortly afterwards. At the time of writing, Portishead had only released two further albums since Dummy, 1997’s Portishead and 2008’s Third; even though they’ve never disbanded, the band members have spend time exploring other projects.

Each of the band’s records has its own sound, but generally they mix organic and inorganic textures; Gibbons’ lush vocals are infused with melancholy, and often recall classic blues singers of a bygone era. On their first two albums, the band employed hip hop beats and turntables, but layered other organic textures over the top, like Utley’s guitar.

Despite their limited output, they’re one of the more lasting acts from the 1990s – Geoff Barrow has said “I just wanted to make interesting music, proper songs with a proper life span and a decent place in people’s record collections.” Dummy is rightfully acknowledged as a classic, and their other two albums are also strong; their ability to update their signature sound for 2008’s Third was surprisingly impressive. I’ve also covered Beth Gibbons’ collaboration with Talk Talk bass player Paul Webb.

Ten Favourite Portishead Songs

It’s A Fire
Glory Box
Magic Doors
Wandering Star
We Carry On
All Mine
Nylon Smile

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Portishead Dummy

Dummy – Portishead

Dummy (1994), 9.5/10 Dummy wasn’t the first trip hop album – Massive Attack’s Blue Lines pre-dates it by three years … Continue Reading Dummy – Portishead

Portishead Portishead

Portishead – Portishead

Portishead (1997), 8/10 Portishead is a darker album than the debut, with less organic textures. The group worked differently this time, … Continue Reading Portishead – Portishead

Portishead Third

Third – Portishead

Third 2008, 8.5/10 Portishead never officially broke up after 1997’s self-titled sophomore album, but Geoff Barrow struggled to find inspiration … Continue Reading Third – Portishead

Beth Gibbons Rustin Man Out Of Season

Out of Season – Beth Gibbons and Rustin’ Man

Out of Season 2002, 7.5/10 This is an interesting collaboration between two talented musicians who weren’t the principal driving forces … Continue Reading Out of Season – Beth Gibbons and Rustin’ Man

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