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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Dummy

Portishead

1994

Buy At Rough Trade
Dummy
Album Summary

Dummy is the debut studio album by English electronic music band Portishead, released on 22 August 1994 by Go! Beat Records.The album received critical acclaim and won the 1995 Mercury Music Prize. It is often credited with popularising the trip hop genre, and is frequently cited in lists of the best albums of the 1990s. Dummy was certified triple platinum in the UK in February 2019, and had sold 920,000 copies in the United Kingdom as of September 2020. Worldwide, the album had sold 3.6 million copies by 2008.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.7

Votes

13928

Genres

  • Electronica

Reviews

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Day 6 of Albums you must hear before you die.. I was initially disappointed because I looked at the name of the album and it says “Dummy” by Portishead... I thought, damn, what in the hell is a Portishead first and secondly, I thought, I wish it had been something I’m more familiar with. I look at the genre and it’s titled trip-hop, and although I don’t typically like the idea of “genres” when I listed I understood. Man... As soon as I clicked the play button on the first song, I was taken on a beautiful, sexy, smokey, spooky and one of the most sonically pleasing trips that I have ever been on.. Without tripping on acid, of course. (I’ve Never taken acid before by the way, I just could never find any). All jokes aside, this is one of those things that when I first start listening to it and start to let it sink in, I automatically want to know who in the hell produced this!? It’s AMAZING! It’s like 80’s and early 90’s hip-hop/boom bap music had a baby in a film with James Bond played by Isaac Hayes, directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s a cinematic experience that gives you chills. It’s also SO hip-hop that I almost expected Nasir or Andre 3000 to start spitting witty lyrics at certain parts of the songs. They are all crafted so well! All the samples, sound effects, record scratching, the soundtrack to this trip-hop era is so damned satisfying. The arrangements in these songs are so superbly laid out and even though the girl that seems like she’s singing in an old jazz club filled with cigarette smoke with the sweetest voice, that when certain hooks and bridges come in and out that you can only focus on the sounds. Dummy is so well produced, engineered, performed and presented on a platter of gold. Better yet, platinum. Actually four times platinum. Winner of some of the most prestigious awards in music. There’s a saying, you only need two turntables and a microphone, and that is TRUE! But.. If you’re in 1994 in England with access to so many great rhythm and blues albums and jazz records to dig through in the crates, and then be able to use the technology of the time to sample them, and THEN have the obscenely talented singer Beth Gibbons on that side of the fore mentioned microphone, crooning to the notes played from the weeping guitar of Adrian Utley.. Really, it’s a perfect blend of music that makes this album my favorite of them so far at day 6. It caught me by surprise.. Now to give you my favorite songs. I never wanted to skip a single song on all three listens that I had today. If you don’t like this album from the very start it’s not for you. Don’t like the first song? Listen to the very last one, Glory Box. It’s my favorite song and it samples black 007 Isaac Hayes (RIP KING) Now if you don’t like THAT song, we can’t be friends. CANNOT. I also like Mysterons, Numb.. Shit I like them all! I need someone to shame me for not knowing about this group for all these years!! Come at me bro! Last but not least, that producer that I wanted to know so much about, but still don’t because I just learned of Portishead (still a dumb name) yesterday, well, his name is Geoff Barrow, the DJ that you hear creating all these amazing backing tracks for this album that Beth could lyrically mold with her voice like creative hands molding wet clay. I don’t know shit about either of them as people and I want to keep it what way. I prefer the mystique I get from this record. What’s magic without mystery? Music is magic. I’m still excited to gush over some of the great music that I already know so well, after this album, a record that will stay in my rotation from here on out. I’m more excited for the rest of the 1001 albums to hear before you die that I don’t know at all. ✌️

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Tue May 18 2021
5

This album is SO good! This is the first album I got to the end and immediately started listening from the beginning again. I’ve never actually listened to Portishead, so this is a revelation. Her voice, the ambience, the emotion, it’s all so good. Favourite track: “It’s a Fire.”

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Tue Jan 26 2021
4

There's not much else out there that sounds like Portishead. I come back to this album all of the time and never seem to get tired of it. Plus, how is it possible that Portishead was never used for a Bond movie??

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Mon Jun 26 2023
3

I’ve tried a few times over the years to understand what makes this such a beloved record and it just won’t click. In fact, it seems like every time I give this record a shot, I end up liking it less than I did the previous time I heard it. Its a very monotone record to me, with songs that don’t do much to differentiate themselves from each other. This one’s just not for me.

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Fri Aug 06 2021
2

J'ai appris grâce à cet album que je n'aimais pas du tout le trip-hop, ce genre musical ayant émergé au début des années 1990, dans la région de Bristol. Pourtant, vous savez probablement que lors d'une kermesse s'étant tenue dans mon école primaire en 2005, j'avais représenté la ville de Bristol à la toute fin du passage de ma classe avec deux amis moins talentueux. Nous étions le clou du spectacle. À la fin du numéro, j'étais censé déchirer mon T-Shirt noir préalablement découpé et maladroitement scotché à cet effet et le lancer dans la foule. Seulement au moment où la musique s'arrêta, le T-Shirt ne se déchira pas malgré mes nombreuses tentatives. Je dus l'enlever de la façon la plus standard qui soit, avant de le jeter dans une foule qui criait au scandale. Depuis ce jour, je hais la ville de Bristol ainsi que la plupart des courants musicaux qui y ont émergé.

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Wed Aug 03 2022
5

Cities have this ever present dull roar. After having always lived in the country or the suburbs, I remember my first few nights living in an apartment in the city. Getting used to that roar took some time. The city is a living thing. So many people and vehicles and things going on. And yet among it all its easy to feel isolated and alienated from it. People people everywhere, but no one to connect to. This album has an ever present bass and sub bass component. That dull roar*. On top of it, the mid range and high end are very sparsely populated. Anything that lives in that space is delicate and vulnerable. The vocalist isn't singing along to chords. There is no accompaniment. The vocals stand completely on their own. And it really sells the feeling of loneliness, the kind of loneliness borne of a desire to make new connections, and the creeping doubt as to whether that's even possible anymore. The sense conveyed is that I used to have relationships, and I used to understand my surroundings, and it used to be so easy to make friends. The nostalgic elements to the music sell this too. The dirty vinyl sounds, the cimbalom, the theramin, all evoke the past. While the delicate vocals represent the present. Why can't it be easy like it used to be? I'm surrounded by all these people. Is something wrong with me? Or is something wrong with everything else? How can it feel, this wrong From this moment How can it feel, this wrong 'Cause a child, roses light Tried to reveal, what I could feel I can't understand myself Anymore 'Cause, I'm still feelin' lonely Feelin' so unholy 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 I don't believe its sad or mournful. This isn't a funeral. It hasn't given up. Not yet. There's just this desire for something, and the question as to whether its even a valid desire anymore. "Did you really want?" On the path toward alienation, but not quite there yet. "Give me a reason to love you." Prove my desires are worth having. Please. Because I've about given up on them. * I just wanted to point out how much the bass of Wandering Star sounds just like distant air brakes from a truck, something you'd hear lying in your bed in the city, but I have no idea how to fit it in.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
4

Wandering Star is the first song by Portishead I listened to and the song that hooked me. Listening to this album took me back and reminded me what I was so into their sound.

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Thu Mar 11 2021
5

Great album. Beth Gibbon's voice is sublime.

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Mon May 17 2021
5

a masterpiece. easily in my top ten albums of all time i listen to this album as uch as any other album i can think of.

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Wed Feb 17 2021
5

Classic alert! They have a pretty unique sound as a band, only problem I have with them is they never really stray from this sound. IMO this is the only portishead album you really need to listen to, the others all sound the same but worse

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Tue Nov 16 2021
4

Can't recall too many households in the late 90s that didn't have a copy of this album in them. I mean, there's a reason why Glory Box was a smash. Whole album is so classy. Impeccable production. Beth Gibbons (whom I confused with Beth Orton) being a total weapon also helps.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

This is what music is supposed to be. Beautifully composed, edited and sung. I can see how this was the springboard for trip-hop and I thoroughly enjoyed the sampling. Overall, this is nearly a perfect album.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
5

This has always been the defining trip hop album to me, though I may be slightly biased, because the 1st streaming service I ever listened to in the 90s had a chill channel that may as well have been called the Portishead channel. The production is elegant and creative (some of the samples are way out there), they never stray too far from their moody, haunting sound, but the song writing is great so they don’t need to, and I never tire of Beth Gibbon's voice.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

I love trip hop, and this is the grandaddy of all trip hop albums. Great vocals, even better sampling and sound design, just a masterpiece.

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Tue Nov 14 2023
5

Their second album is better, but this is the one that seemed to haunt everywhere for a while in the mid-90's, and distinguished its aesthetic so strikingly that it felt almost its own cliché on arrival. These songs manage to be delicate and juggernaut at the same time. They knew what to do with this aesthetic: the songs are strong. The only song on the album that drops below the bar is It's A Fire. Analogue production, digital quality control! I am startled by how far Glory Box's popularity on Spotify outstrips the rest of the album. The guitar riff is stunning, channeling Cream-era Clapton after a few pints of brandy. I remember Tricky moaning about how Dummy was basically his song Aftermath, and that was it. I both hear what he's saying - Aftermath is stellar - and think he's very, very wrong. The aesthetics are different, and whereas Tricky went for linear, minimalist stretches which flaunted his digital lifts, Portishead were more obviously analogue, defacing their vinyls and using weirdo, UFO instrumentation, and had time for more formal song structures - robots versus cyborgs. Returning to this album, I rate it above Massive Attack's efforts, and think it might be the zenith of that Bristolian spree. Will wait for Maxinquaye to appear on the list, as I haven't heard that in decades.

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Sat Feb 20 2021
4

Dark, moody, understated. Lovingly arranged, wonderful restrain. Just enough negative space to allow songs to breathe. This album has outsized influence on 90s downbeat sound. If there's one criticism it's that incorporating the scratching record sounds definitely dates the record.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
3

Not as good as the later album but still impressive.

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Tue Jan 19 2021
5

liked it. pornographic vibes

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Mon Mar 20 2023
5

My initial thoughts are, "It's Dummy by Portishead, of course it's an automatic five, are you crazy?" But then I started to think a little (and I haven't pressed play yet). Outside the singles 'Numb', 'Sour Times' and of course 'Glory Box' is anything about the rest of the album memorable at all? Are the good songs that good, that it doesn't even matter about the rest? We shall see... 'Mysterons' is such a good opening song, sets the mood immediately. Not much to add about 'Sour Times', great song. I love the throbbing, pulsating drive of the bass and the trippy backwards snare in this song, 'Strangers' is definitely one to remember. 'It Could Be Sweet' is the first song I'm not a fan of on the album, the beat in particular feels off with the rest of the instrumentation and sampling on the track. It's not bad by any means, but doesn't do it for me. 'Wandering Star' picks things back up with a great beat and bass line and some good turntable work. Nice organy opening, I don't really remember this song at all. Hmm, a bit nondescript this one sadly, and I'm rather cold for 'It's On Fire'. Dark and brooding and what a fucking bass line, 'Numb' is fantastic. The processing on the drums creates a great atmosphere too. This song is like heartbreak and despair and sadness distilled and compressed into a single outpouring of grief. The guitar swells and then the orchestra are just perfect. 'Roads' is a fantastic song, probably my favourite on the album. Another great bass line in 'Pedestal' and trumpet solo! (Sounds like a trumpet to me!) The organ sounds good in 'Biscuit' and some more sub-bass is always good. The scratching and slowed down vocal sample sounds great with the organ over the top. 'Glory Box' is a very good song. Debut album, hugely influential, the best song wasn't even a single. 5 / 5 stars.

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Tue Nov 14 2023
5

Another favorite from my time as a music biz hanger-on in the early '90s. Go! Discs goes trendy; I attended the "world premiere" of the associated (and pointless) To Kill A Dead Man at the Prince Charles Cinema, oh so glamorous! One of the first of its kind, still sounds fresh and arresting, don't blame this for the subsequent trip-hop tedium. Made any spotty, nervous student oik feel instantly sophisticated. Great voice, clever samples including the first (?) use of the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Isaac Hayes motif on the fabulous Glory Box. Mysterons, Sour Times, Roads, not a dud here even if some tracks are less instantly memorable Nostalgic 5*

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Wed Mar 30 2022
4

Like someone put 90's hip-hop and alt-rock into a blender. The gloomy mood makes it perfect rainy day music but the record scratches and samples keep the music from becoming too downbeat or melancholy. It’s a cool, druggy vibe. Favorite tracks: “Sour Times” (one of those songs I didn’t even know that I knew until it came on), “It Could Be Sweet” (that bass line!) and “Wandering Star” (love the record scratches and background layers).

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Thu Feb 08 2024
4

I vibe with it! Good beats, chill songs. Favorite track: "Wandering Star."

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Sat Jun 15 2024
4

I hate trip hop - but really like Portishead. Great vocals, non-repetitive beats and an ethereal vibe.

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Thu Oct 07 2021
3

Like the voice and the music is not my style but not offensive then after 10 minutes my ears got bored and stopped listening as every track sounded the same.

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Sat Oct 09 2021
3

I want to like this but there’s not enough variation in tempo throughout the album. I could listen to maybe one of these songs at a time but a whole album is just boring, no matter how well the beats are constructed. 5/10

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Mon Nov 29 2021
3

The bells on Sour Times sounds like the Taskmaster TV show. And is also a cool groove! It's A Fire is another groove. Glory Box is a nice closer, though I personally feel this album as a whole is lacking.

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Sat Apr 23 2022
3

Eerie and dreamy and totally cool, but also static, almost posing. It could do with some tunefulness. It’s all moods, with little flow and next to no harmony. Trip-hop is not aging all that well; here, the over-reliance on the same little scratchy sound-effect speaks to a passing (now long past) moment of coolness; these songs are equally transitory, if still cool, which lands them somewhere between triviality and ephemerality. 3

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Thu Oct 15 2020
5

Fuck yeah, this is one of my fav albums

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Mon Jun 07 2021
5

amazing i love triphop also ps my mom says that this album sounds like james bond :)

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Incredible debut album. Glory Box is sublime

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

Never listened to the full album before and thats a shame because its awesome!

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Thu Apr 15 2021
5

Casi podría decir que está en mi top 3. Puto discazo de la puta madre. Roads a todo volumen con unos audifonos de medio pelo es la puta mamada, el bajito del final tururu rurururu tururú putamadre :')

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Thu Jan 14 2021
5

This was so great! A mix of new age and 80s-90s techno sprinkled in.

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Sat May 08 2021
5

Haunting and beautiful. Another one I knew quite well before this project

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Wed Jul 07 2021
5

There is zero (0) chance that I'll be objective reviewing this. Looooved this album during my uni days, and have loved Portishead ever since. Such a moody, smokey sound. Fave track - "Glory Box" maybe? Could easily be any of 5 or 6 others though...

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

un tremendo 5 le doy a este trio ingles. 1.música catalogada como trip-hop que es perfecta para andar echando el toque diría facebook. 2.como esta madre no me dio álbum para el fin aproveche para escuchar sus otros 2 y también están bien sensuales. El segundo es mas lento estilo cabaret moderno y el tercero ya es otro trip de sonidos maravilloso. saludos jovenazos buen lunes inicio de semanita

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Tue Feb 09 2021
5

“It Could Be Sweet” is Ape Escape core

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

similar to grimes, crystal castles, the xx and metric

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Thu May 27 2021
5

Yeah a great album, best Portishead Album (not that I have listened to many) but this one I know very well

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Sat Jan 30 2021
5

5 or be exiled for crimes against Bristol!!

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Wed Jul 14 2021
5

С первого трека же зацепил. Не знаю, может внутри своего поджанра (как его наречь там, трип-хоп) звук весьма обыденный, но на незамыленное ухо звучит отлично. Минималистичные, но оригинальные и аранжировки вступают в идеальный синтез с мелодичными, звонкими, во некотором образе прогрессивными вокальными партиями. Интересный подбор инструментов, при этом все на своих местах. Лучшее применение скрэтчинга, что я слышал когда-либо (если это вообще он). Доминанта эстетики – это женский вокал. Без него бы вышло мало чего, а без всего остального что-то бы, да вышло. Мотив куплетов Sour Times напоминает Scissorlips у Rishloo. В Strangers появляется какой-то душный аккомпанемент. It Could Be Sweet довольно скучная, даже по вокальной партии. Возможно, будь короче, не успевала бы надоесть. Далее идут крепкие, порой очень годные треки. Biscuit под конец снова немного душит. А Glory Box – охуенный, балджёный трек. Думаю, три проходных трека можно простить, особенно когда перевешиваются лютой годнотой. Думаю, вернусь к исполнителю. Хотя и не могу запомнить название. Ещё участники говорят, мол их творчество «не поддаётся категоризации», такие вскукареки тоже не одобряем. Но альбом хороший.

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Wed Mar 24 2021
5

loved it! had no idea it existed so Im very happy.

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Fri May 28 2021
5

Einfach großartiger Klassiker.

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Tue May 25 2021
5

De los mejores albumes de trip hop de la historia

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Thu Jun 24 2021
5

nice easy listening, really liked the xx themese to this, on my list of good albumn

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Fri Jul 30 2021
5

This is an amazing album. I remember when it came out, it absolutely blew me away. It was so unique, it defied categorization. 5 stars.

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Sat Aug 21 2021
5

I tried to listen to this with a critical ear, as it is one of my 'go-to' albums when I want something calming but not wishy-washy to listen to, but I couldn't. I love it too much to allow myself to associate any shortcomings with it!

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Thu Sep 09 2021
5

Classic and amazing album, great starting point.

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Wed Sep 29 2021
5

Classical trip-hop album. Perfect lo-fi samples and like slow motion sound. Like it so much.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Absolutely beautiful, great production, vibes.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Timeless, popular for good reason. Every song is a different flavor of their alluring, melancholic sound.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

Gives me goosebumps in the best possible way. A perfect northern-hemisphere October listen.

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

Trip Hoptastic! Still a regular on my playlist to revitalise my hazy 90s memories.

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Fri Oct 08 2021
5

This is truly one of the greats. I remember the first time I heard it.

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Tue Oct 12 2021
5

Trip Hop is one of my favorite genres and this is a great album.

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Tue Oct 19 2021
5

love the way it feels throughout the whole album !! 10/10

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Tue Nov 16 2021
5

Another album I really should have already listened to but just haven't Not too far removed from a lot of the lo-fi stuff I seem to end up listening to these days while working Glory Box was already in a few playlists, but have added album to collection Stand out track: Sour Times

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

Love it, one of my favorite from college

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Por favor activen el 6 como puntuación, por que un 5 es poco para este disco. Increíble de arriba a abajo. Todas y cada una de las canciones me parecen buenas y el conjunto aún mejor.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

The beginning of something great. Not only that, but haunting vocals that really accompany the melody quite well.

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

This isn't quite tailor-made for me, but it's in an intimate class of albums produced with absolute mastery of the sampling and composition skillsets. The atmosphere Portishead conjures is pervasive, but there are clear bits and pieces to love. Give it two tracks: That's what it took for me, and Mysterons had me considering that the hype was entirely misplaced.

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

Impossiblycool used to play it in the kitchen I worked in and everyone hated it which made me love it more. Great to hear it again back to a time and place.....

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Sun Jan 23 2022
5

Incredible. One of my favorite albums on the list so far. Way ahead of their time.

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

Welcome to trip-hop. I think you can have sex to any of these songs to be honest. Already know this one very well, I like almost every song on it. Definitely a Portishead fan, the way they can weave a seductively dark vibe is top. Beth is a great singer as well and I love her vocal style. I came to this pretty late unfortunately, didn't hear it until my mid 20s, but I probably wouldn't have liked it as a teenager unfortunately. Only track that isn't as good as the rest is "It's A Fire", apparently it wasn't on the original UK release and I see why, not bad just not in the same caliber. Hard to pick a favorite track, but it might be Wandering Star. I really like Mysterons, It Could Be Sweet, Roads, Glory Box as well. Overall, Dummy may still be their best work.

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Mon Jan 24 2022
5

Absolutely iconic. I love that, in addition to some crate digging, they recorded their own music to sample and loop. Just brilliant. I'm a sucker for the downtempo beats and the general moodiness.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
5

Love everything about this album

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

I've played this album till it was worn and grey back in the 90's. Trip Hop at its finest. There's not a bad song on this album.

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Thu Feb 24 2022
5

It’s always amazing to here such a vibe, consistent throughout a piece of work like this, that encapsulates an entire time period and genre.

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Mon Feb 28 2022
5

An album that hasn’t aged a bit since its release! A true classic!

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Tue Mar 01 2022
5

I remember hearing Sour Times for the first time. Nothing sounded like this then. Nothing sounds like it now. I've never listened to this whole album and I was missing out. btw Wandering Star is amazing, had to listen to it twice in a row.

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Fri Mar 04 2022
5

This album had an otherworldly sound when I first heard it. Upon listening again, it didn't awe me to the extent it did the first time in 1994, but it holds up really well and remains a great top-to-bottom album. I actually never thought they matched it with subsequent releases, (admittedly they didn't want to be pigeon-holed) but they really brought trip-hop to prominence along with Massive Attack.

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Sun Mar 06 2022
5

This band was starting out in Bristol (England) while I was at university there. But somehow I didn’t hear about them until after I had left, some time shortly after this album came out. This, plus massive attack became my staple and around that time and I still listen to this music. Great, innovative, original band. Love it.!

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