Bristol dance alchemists Massive Attack certainly knew a trick or two when it came to choosing vocalists for their last two albums, Blue Line and Protection. Tracey Thorn and Tricky were special enough, but it was the employment of Jamaica's slinky, almost feminine-voiced Horace Andy which lent a reggae spiritual vibe to MA's musical masterplans. Both sides benefited: a rootsy cool flowed through MA's trip-hop soundscapes, while the Studio One veteran of countless tunes got a needed career shot in the arm. His recent compilation album Skylarking (on Massive Attack's Melankolic album) is the perfect opportunity to sample some of his material from the last 25 years. His voice is extraordinary. Its feline quality is at its finest on "Do You Love My Music?" and the swoonsome dub offering "Girl I Love You" . The sentiments throughout the long player are predictable enough - materialism is bad, Jah is great, I'm in love - but when the stoned grooves kick in and Horace's high sensuous timbre gets into the swing of things, you're hooked.
Live, Horace will be one of the quality choices at the London Music Week, which many artists are dropping in at as part of their conventional tours. Many of the bands are young enough to be Horace's grandchildren. Will Bis or Symposium be around in five years time. Let alone 25? One doubts it. Bis already seem to have problems making new ideas work convincingly on their new single, "Everybody Thinks They're Going To Get Theirs", while Symposium are as conservative as The Levellers, who are back after a thankfully longish layoff. Warren G is part of the London Music Week, but on past form, his lyrics are larger than life in a way that he himself simply isn't in the flesh. As for Goldie, the geezer is only up for a DJ stint, leaving out the full Metalheads extravaganza. Horace Andy may have been around the block far more times than anyone else at London Music Week, but his voice and charm reach the parts none of the other artists can reach.
EYE ON THE NEW Ex-Stone Rose John Squire is back again with Seahorses. The guitarist has his head stuck in the late 60s/early 70s, and his band's debut album Do It Yourself is out soon with a sound unlike that of The Stone Roses.
Glasgow Garage 26 Apr, Liverpool L2 27 Apr, Sheffield Leadmill 29 Apr, Northampton Roadmender 30 Apr