In the early Nineties there was suddenly this thing called Trip hop, which manifested out of another dimension and came to earth in Bristol, not otherwise famous for very much. Its distinguishing characteristic is being slow and dreamy and, I always thought, kind of sexy. Sour Times is probably the most famous Trip-hop song ever, by Portishead, along with Massive Attack the canonical trip-hopheads.


When you listen to it first, you tend to just sink into the slow melody and Beth Gibbons’ beautiful, haunting singing. But there’s a lot more happening; this one is worth listening to a few times.

There are two recordings of this song; it was the big hit on their debut album Dummy, and appeared on Roseland NYC Live, in an elaborate arrangement with a big orchestra. They’re both great, and they made a movie of that concert too, which I think is way cool. Anyhow, any time you’re in the mood for something silky and seductive, you can’t beat Sour Times, assuming you can ignore the fact that it’s kind of sad.

This is part of the Song of the Day series (background).

Links · Spotify playlist. This tune on Amazon: Roseland/Dummy; on iTunes: Roseland/Dummy; on Spotify: Roseland/Dummy. Here’s really excellent live video of the live recording.


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From: John Cowan (Mar 26 2018, at 16:35)

Bristol? Not famous? It's famous because its people pronounce an /l/ after words ending on /o/, which is why it's called Bristol and not Bridgestowe, as it shoulda been.


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March 26, 2018
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