[1] Massive Attack, ‘Unfinished Sympathy (Paul Oakenfold Mix)’

Shara Nelson

“Forced” by public opinion and common decency to drop the ‘Attack’ half from their name for the duration of the first Gulf War, Massive still managed to score their debut hit, almost as if the publicity did them no harm. Cynicism aside, it would’ve been a travesty if this hadn’t troubled the chart scorers. As it is, it only flirted with the edges of the Top 10 when it surely deserved to climb far higher. This is the beefed-up Oakenfold single mix: it kicks off properly rather than ambling in like the album version. Pretty much everything else is the same. Shara Nelson still rules, her abortive solo career just a dull twinkle in the corner of her eye.

Junior has chickenpox and I lost my job last week, so we have plenty of time to sit here and pick over the song and its band. But we took potshots at the post-Blue Lines output in the 1995 rundown; maybe we’ll just enjoy this record. Junior gives it the paradoxically supportive shake of the head and waves around the cow-on-a-stick. This is no faint praise.

Right, we all know the drama and beauty of this track, so let’s concentrate on the trivial. My mate had Blue Lines with the ‘Attack’ intact, mine just said ‘Massive’. He thought his was the better artefact, but history would prove him wrong, no?

While we muse over these matters, and where to go next with this place, we’re playing Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Junior is applauding the Dame.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

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[18] U2, ‘Mysterious Ways’

U2

Never having heard Rattle & Hum, Junior’s not well placed to assess U2’s seismic brand realignment from holier-than-thou, campaigning rock monoliths to fun-loving, wraparound-sporting, INXS wannabes with better songs. Good. 15 years on, Achtung Baby is just another rock album, most songs a bit tighter and poppier than U2’s earlier offerings but there’s more obvious filler.

The Perfecto Mix of ‘Mysterious Ways’ did it for me. A couple of minutes of looped guitar at the start before the nice big riff comes in, and then no sign of the first verse, just the second verse twice with a couple of choruses. It’s careless, but it works. Oakenfold’s sausage fingers were all over 1991.

Junior rocked side to side throughout; she definitely goes for the rock guitars and the sturdy drums. She needs to hear more Belle & Sebastian and Eg & Alice. I won’t have an infant Suzi Quatro on my hands.

Talking Heads, ‘Once In A Lifetime’

At some stage, scrabbling around for a theme, we were going to do Jukebox Junior’s Top 10 Greatest Singles Of All Time but, what with ‘Young Americans’ already gone and now this, I’m throwing them away cheaply. This would be Number Four. Probably.

Also, I should’ve done this on a day that Junior was wearing oversized clothes with huge shoulders – not an uncommon occurrence – and not when she’s in her just-right denim dress. All in all, I’ve made a right pig’s ear of it. Junior’s not quasi-autistic like her dad, fortunately, so she couldn’t give two hoots about the circumstances. She’s right there with David Byrne’s nervy, scratchy paranoid funk twitches, even clapping at “there is water at the bottom of the ocean”. She finds the sublime in the ridiculous.

This is so far ahead of its time, I’m surprised it wasn’t drowned as a witch. Music caught up 10 years later when rock bands found dance elements to their music and Paul Oakenfold got rich. Talking Heads never needed help.