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A Ruff Guide
A Ruff Guide is a best-of from the Bristolian wunderkind who laid the template for the trip-hop genre in the early '90s
Fiona Reid, 11 Jun 2002
A Ruff Guide is a best-of from the Bristolian wunderkind who laid the template for the trip-hop genre in the early ‘90s, along with his former Wild Bunch cohorts Massive Attack.
His debut Maxinquaye is undoubtedly a defining masterpiece, and this collection contains the first six tracks from it, (eight if you count the remixes of ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Black Steel’), which are stunning by any standards. The incredible seething punk energy of ‘Black Steel’, the eerie, languid hallucinogenics of ‘Pumpkin’ and especially the loping smoked-out shape-shifters like ‘Overcome’ and ‘Ponderosa,’ with erstwhile muse Martina Topley Bird’s distinctive sultry vocals in simmering contrast with Tricky’s prickly-throated murmurings.
His subsequent albums saw him plumbing ever murkier paranoid depths, his missives from strange claustrophobic places becoming increasingly inaccessible and confrontational, as he defiantly shadow-boxed within the confines of the unsympathetic music industry. While never quite matching the jaw-dropping potency of his debut, the ensuing years produced a few arresting and uneasily atmospheric pieces, songs like ‘Poems’ from his 1996 Nearly God side project featuring the likes of Damon Albarn and Terry Hall, ‘Christiansands’ from Pre-Millennium Tension and the dark urban gospel of ‘Broken Homes,’ his P.J. Harvey collaboration from Angels With Dirty Faces.
This collection stops short of Tricky’s most recent Blowback album which saw a return to form, as unlikely collaborations and inspired scavenging of funkier upbeat tunes showed the notoriously ‘difficult’ artist moving closer into touch with some sort of pop instinct.
Although Maxinquaye will always serve as the best introduction to the genius of Tricky, A Ruff Guide provides a weirdly evocative trip through his uneven early career.