This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #295: Glory Box by Portishead.
Awhile back ago, in Post #414, I introduced you all to a group called, “Massive Attack” and their song, “Unfinished Sympathy”. In that post, I talked about the invention of a new genre of music called, “Trip Hop”. If you may recall, “Trip Hop” took the, then emerging genre of Hip-Hop (with someone singing over top of the work of DJs, who sampled recorded sounds and bits of music) and turned it on its’ collective ear, by using the same techniques that Hip-Hop used to amplify and intensify the beats to, instead, slow everything down, chill it all out and create a more, ethereal, cool Jazz-like sound in reply. “Trip Hop” emerged out of Bristol, England on the strength of DJ/singer “Tricky”, super group, “Massive Attack” and, the third member of “Trip Hop‘s” Holy Trinity, “Portishead”.
“Portishead” consisted of singer, Beth Gibbons, guitarist, Adrian Utley and keyboardist/DJ, Geoff Barrow. In 1994, “Portishead” released their debut album called, “Dummy”. It was a huge success, spawning several hits including, “Sour Times”, “Numb” and “Glory Box”. In fact, the band went on to win the “Mercury Prize”, as England’s “Band of the Year” and “Glorybox”, the “Song of the Year”. However, a funny thing happened as “Portishead” rose to the very apex of the UK music scene….the band absolutely hated it all. Notoriously media-shy, the members of “Portishead” retreated away from the attention that was coming all tsunami-like at them. The band is quoted as hating that the fruits of their creative labours….their music….was being treated as “chill music” to be played in the background of cocktail parties. They were proud of the creativity and the originality of their music and felt that any popularity their were experiencing was misdirected and, in the end, counter-productive to what they were trying to achieve as musicians. So, they stopped being “Portishead” almost at once. Since 1994, they have released only two albums; neither of which had a “Trip Hop” feel to them.
Since the release of “Dummy” and the wide-spread acclaim it received, the members of “Portishead” have quietly worked on other projects, for other bands or films but, have for the most part, gone on to living their lives out of the spotlight. Like many people find out in life, being who you really are sometimes conflicts with who society (or your family or your friends) want you to be. In life, happiness is often built upon a foundation of personal contentment, which comes from being ok with who you are and living life on your own terms. “Portishead”, the band, will always and forever be associated with the birth of “Trip Hop” but, as individual musicians, they viewed themselves as artists who worked with sounds. They may have gone on and left the music scene behind but, they managed to leave a gorgeous work of Art in the form of an album called, “Dummy” and, in particular, a song called, “Glorybox” which is a beautiful, jazz-like torch song, if ever there was one.
Please give it a listen. It will be well worth your time if you do. “Glory Box” by “Portishead” was “Song of the Year” in the UK in 1994 for a reason. Enjoy!
The link to the video for the song, “Glorybox” by Portishead, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Portishead, can be found here.
The link to the wonderful radio station that is KEXP, can be found here. Thanks, as always, for helping to inspire the writing of the music posts that I cobble together.