Thursday, March 30, 2006

THE PERFECT SONG

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MASSIVE ATTACK Unfinished Sympathy (Wild Bunch, 1991)

"Like a soul without a mind
In a body without a heart
I’m missing every part"

With Collected released last Monday, Massive Attack have been all over VMR this week, and the song that seems to be played the most is Unfinished Sympathy. Fifteen years after it was first released, it still sounds like nothing else around, and still gives me goose bumps and a lump in my throat every single time I hear it. Massive Attack have never done anything better, and even the collabs with the divine Liz Fraser on Mezzanine aren’t a patch on this timeless classic. I don’t actually know anyone who doesn’t like this song. It just has truly universal appeal.

I was listening to it on my way back from the sandwich shop just now, and I found myself involuntarily walking a bit like Shara Nelson in the video. I think it is still one of the best and most perfect music videos ever done. It’s got no special effects, no computer wizardry, no bells and whistles… just one seven-or-so minute sequence of Shara Nelson walking in a dodgy suburb of Los Angeles I think, no cuts, no edits, nothing. It was, I believe, the first music video to be filmed with a handicam. The legend has it that the only thing that was done to the original video was that it was slowed down a bit as Shara was extremely nervous doing it and ended up walking too fast. I don’t know whether this is an urban myth or this is true, but the result is just about as perfect as the song itself.

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