Back To Mine: Tricky. Does anyone else remember these compilation LPs that were around in the early 2000’s, usually various DJs and Hip-hop artists would curate a playlist of tunes to show a) their influences b) how hip they were c) that people would pay them for this stuff. Give it a decade and Spotify would make this as outdated a craft as fletching, whitesmithing, fell-mongering and witch-detecting, but we didn’t know that way back in 2003. Which is roughly why I blew a chunk of my hard-earned dough on this 3LP set curated by Tricky. Which was a little odd because whilst he was an ex-member of 1537 all-time-faves Massive Attack I hated his solo stuff, mostly for his appalling cover of one of my favourite ever tracks, ‘Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos’.
I’m guessing that Back To Mine: Tricky was pressed on 3 LPs for audio quality, because you could have got it onto two discs quite easily. The sleevenotes from Tricky are pretty well done too. GRIPE TIME: 3 LPs, 2 inner sleeves. I repeat 3LPs, 2 inner sleeves – you’re expected to keep two albums in the same sleeve?! tight bastards! Plus there is an increased chance of scratchage.
The collection kicks off with The Cure ‘Lullaby’, which I didn’t own before having this album. What a track it is too. I don’t have a lot of tolerance for Robert Smith’s gothic, shimmering, claustrophobic depressing bits, but I’ve always thought he was a superlative writer of a good pop song – Tricky agrees with me too. Clever thing is the jaunty pop of ‘Lullaby’ is just clever camouflage for one of Robert Smith’s most gothic, shimmering, claustrophobic depressing bits where he come on like Edward Scissorhands with the horn. Great video too:
Eric B & Rakim ‘My Melody’ was a bit of a disappointment, they cut a good couple of my fave hip-hop tracks ever, but this never ignites for me no matter how clever the lyrics and how smooth the delivery; possibly because the backing track has just aged so much. Tricky includes a Radanna track that he appears on himself, ‘How We ride’ and it is really excellent, a beguiling mix of soft beats and a macho street swagger – I’d listen to more of that, very happily.
One of the main reasons I bought this was for The Beat* ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’, a track that I loved when it came out when I was 8 and a track I like even better now. This tale of self-absorption gets more sinister with every spin, I love the line ‘Drift gently into mental illness’, you don’t get that in nearly enough pop songs in my view. In fact I can’t think of many songs that wouldn’t be improved with that line, I may make it mandatory when I ascend to the throne of the world.
Dr John ‘Loop Garoo’ is another great jam, you have to like the Dr! I didn’t know this track actually, it sounds like an outtake from Gris-Gris, I can think of no higher praise to be honest. The whole cartoony swampy patois menace is right there on point on this cut. Back To Mine: Tricky was also the first exposure I had to the mighty Le Tigre, their plastic-punk-as-fuck ‘Much Finer’.
Then, I’m afraid apart from a wonderful track from Morphine, a band I loved back in the day, the insubstantial joy of Chet Baker’s ‘My Funny Valentine’ and the horny reggae of Gregory Isaacs ‘Night Nurse’**, things get a bit more average. One possible reason for this is that Tricky uses the album to promote a few upcoming, young artists who just aren’t very good, as well as including one of the very few Kate Bush tracks I don’t like, ‘Eat The Music’, which sounds the way I imagine throwing up three bowls of fruit salad would feel like.
But apart from the official gripe raised above this is a fun set to listen to. Tricky writes that ‘I used to make loads of compilation tapes and I just haven’t had time for years so putting this selection together has been a real pleasure”, I know I would just [CENSORED: For reasons of decency] if someone asked me, presumably due to a horrendous administrative error on their part, to make a 3LP compilation of my faves. Although a truer reflection of the actual sounds of going Back To Mine would probably be a 19-minute track of me and my daughter arguing about her hanging her clothes up in her room and a 22-minute one of people trying to interact with me whilst I snarled ‘Leave me lone, I’m trying to blog here!‘, followed by me playing something by Bob Dylan to make Mrs 1537 leave the room. And so it goes.
*or ‘The English Beat’ as you North Americans would have it – isn’t it enough that we gave back your countries for home rule? but no, you have to defile our Two-Tone combos too.
**Tricky agrees, ‘This is one of the first songs I ever had sex to with a half-Jamaican, half Spanish girl at her house in Bristol’. Don’t worry countless ladies of Wales, I’d never spill the beans like that, I’m too much of a gentleman.