Record Label: Virgin
Bristol's Massive Attack released a classic with their first album, Blue Lines, but only those who were paying careful attention noticed; soon, they were overshadowed by the likes of Tricky and Portishead, who were colleagues. But not so after the release of Protection, which sported a massive hit and was just as critically acclaimed as their first album. (The hit was the title track, for which Everything but the Girl's Tracy Thorn lent her divine pipes-a move that made the act's name, and also presaged EBTG's move to the dance floor.) Eschewing the showmanship of their scene mates, Massive prefer subtler soundscapes and using a diverse range of vocalists (including Horace Andy, Nicolette, and Tricky) who give them a number of flavors and moods with which to work. Protection is an understated album with a rich palette; it reveals more of itself on repeated listens, growing better-and deeper-each time.