The Vinyl Brew: Portishead - Dummy
 Howdy Brewers,

I hope that you have been enjoying the great weather and have found yourself a little peace and quiet for today’s chat. Today is going to be a very chill one so, grab your record player, vinyl collection and a cold drink. We are heading back to 1994 to an electronic band’s debut album; often hailed as the band that popularised trip hop (although they don’t consider themselves trip hop), it is of course the incredible Portishead and their album Dummy.

 

Forming in Bristol in 1991, Beth Gibbons and Geoff Barrow came together after meeting on a course they were both attending. They had recorded their first track “It Could Be Sweet” in that same year and while recording at Coach House Studios the pair would meet Adrian Utley, who would co-produce and help write several tracks for the album ‘Dummy’ and would go on to become a full-time member of the band shortly after the album’s release. Although shying away from press coverage the album was an instant success in Europe and the US and garnered one of my favourite reviews of all time from Melody Maker who said "musique noire for a movie not yet made". It is such a fitting review as hopefully as you listen along now that is exactly what this album feels like.

There is a darkness that plays through the whole album which feels like a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. Portishead are the type of band you would want to have play the soundtrack of your life and Dummy is a perfect example of why everybody should feel that way.
With Beth Gibbons silky smooth vocals that just add to that trip hop feel that the album gives off and the sample heavy backing tracks that give it that hip hop influence. Creating their own samples and pressing them onto vinyl before putting them onto decks to manipulate, there are stories that the group would, to give a vintage sound, distress the vinyl they had recorded by placing it on the studio floor and walking across it or even using it as a skateboard. What we end up with is something that sounds somehow both classic and completely of its time.

The Final Word

‘Dummy’ is often named in many of those greatest albums lists and rightly so, as it spins on my player now it just is the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day. Sounding still so incredibly relevant to today’s music landscape, this is an album that should be in every vinyl collection. Winner of the 1995 Mercury Music Prize against probably one of the toughest lists of nominees ever, if you don’t own a copy this is your call out to add it to you stack right now.

As we just sit here in our state of chill it seems a pity to move to pick a track to play us out but pick, we must. So, let’s go with one of the more obvious choices and pop “Sour Times” back on and just drift away.


“Who am I, what and why
'Cause all I have left is my memories of yesterday
Oh these sour times
'Cause nobody loves me, it's true
Not like you do”

 

Remember to head over to our Twitter @Vinyl8Records to let us know your thoughts on Dummy or just to have a chat.

Till next we Brew,
T