If you do not know about Massive Attack or are curious on electronic down tempo, I would recommend you checking out the UK band Massive Attack. This is one of my favorite tracks from the early 1990’s which drawn me into them and after watching this year’s 2012 Olympics, there was actually an instrumental version of the song was played during the final lap of all of the long distance races at the Olympic Stadium (London).
“Unfinished Sympathy” is a song by English electronica group Massive Attack, from their debut album Blue Lines (1991). The song was written collaboratively by the members of the group (Grantley “Daddy G” Marshall, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles, and Robert “3D” Del Naja), with Jonathan “Jonny Dollar” Sharp and Shara Nelson, the latter providing lead vocals for the song. Production of the song was done by Massive Attack and Jonny Dollar. “Unfinished Sympathy” was released as the second single from Blue Lines on 11 February 1991. It fared well on singles charts, reaching number one on the Dutch Top 40, as well as reaching the top twenty in countries such as their native United Kingdom and Switzerland.
The song was acclaimed by critics, and is generally recognized as a pioneering song in the trip hop genre. Critics praised its unique production, atypical of the standard dance track: the song contains usage of “classical” instruments such as piano and strings, but also shows influences of their hip hop roots, utilizing well-known hip hop practices such as scratching and sampling. It was acclaimed for its use of its production and Shara Nelson’s vocals to conceive a generally moving and emotional nature. “Unfinished Sympathy” ranked highly on 1991 year-end polls for the best singles of the year, reaching the top spots on polls from NME, Melody Maker and The Face, and also features prominently on critics’ and popular polls as one of the best songs of all-time. It was also well received by Massive Attack’s peers in the electronic genre, and has been praised by other electronic artists such as Darren Tate and Norman Cook. The song was covered by American singer Tina Turner on her 1996 album Wildest Dreams; her version became a top ten hit on the French Singles Chart which you can view here:
The track is also known for its relatively simple video, directed by Baillie Walsh filmed in Los Angeles, which simply consists of one continuous shot of Nelson walking, detached from her surroundings (starting at a house at S New Hampshire Ave then walking three blocks west along W Pico Blvd before turning south into Dewey Ave) as the members of Massive Attack gradually start walking behind her.