Portishead: I just wanna be a music critic

When I first heard a ghost-voiced Beth Gibbons from Portishead croaking “Give me a reason to love you / Give me a reason to be, a woman / I just wanna be a woman” on their debut album, I was …. impressed.

Mid-90s hype around Britpop (Oasis v Blur, the Gallaghers slagging off Damon Albarn, all that) was becoming a boorish blot on the musical landscape, jungle/drum and bass was good, and indie bands like The Auteurs  tickled my fancy … but yes, Portishead were definitely different. Innovative, dark, yet still accessible. Quite a feat.

Not long after they brought out “Dummy”, there was a lot of music biz nonsense about trip-hop but I always rated Portishead (Tricky, Faithless and others just didn’t seem to come together like they did). And, latterly, hearing the much-hyped Burial “dubstep” CD, I can’t help but think that Portishead’s work seems stronger than a lot of stuff in that vein that came later.

Hey, all hail Portishead. OK, I don’t want to get carried away. They’re a good band. I confess I base this “judgement” mostly on Dummy and that Live in NYC concert they did, and I haven’t heard their – well-received – third CD (imaginatively called “Third”). In fact, if anyone has a copy they’d like to lend to me – or file-transfer (legally, of course!) – please do.

But, I have heard Portishead’s new offering – for Amnesty International – “Chase The Tear”. It’s just out, released, neatly enough, on 10 December, international human rights day. Feel free to watch the video and download the single from 7 Digital.

Yes, pop-pickers, Portishead are fans of Amnesty and want a world where human rights are better respected. Well there you go. Those Bristolians, hey? What nice people.

Music and Amnesty go way back and yep, we’re still down with the rockers. Just yesterday, here in my very office in “trendy Shoreditch” (this phrase is required when writing about our patch in east London), we had former Poptician John Hegley doing his surreal versifying to a packed cross-legged-on-the-floor crowd of Amnesty types looking moon-faced with happiness (Hegley does this to people it seems).

Hegley was accompanied by the excellent Andrew Bailey (on kazoo and all manner of plastic tubes and squeeky toys) and, hype aside, I’d heartily recommend you get to see them (or book them if you’re a promoter). I believe they do children’s parties …

 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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