Portishead are an English band formed in 1991 in Bristol. They are often considered one of the pioneers of trip hop music. The band are named after the nearby town of the same name, eight miles west of Bristol, along the coast. Portishead consists of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons and Adrian Utley, while sometimes citing a fourth member, Dave McDonald, an engineer on their first records.
Portishead live in 2013
|Years active||1991–1999 |
Portishead's first album Dummy was released in 1994. The cover features a still from the band's own short film To Kill a Dead Man. The credits indicate that at this juncture, Portishead was a duo of Geoff Barrow and Beth Gibbons. Adrian Utley, who co-produced the album with them (and who played on nine of the tracks and co-wrote eight), became an official band member shortly after its release.
Despite the band's aversion to press coverage, the album was successful in both Europe and the United States (where it sold more than 150,000 copies even before the band toured there). Dummy was positively described by the Melody Maker as "musique noire for a movie not yet made". Rolling Stone praised its music as "Gothic hip-hop". Dummy spawned three singles: "Numb", "Sour Times" and "Glory Box", and won the Mercury Music Prize in 1995. The success of the album saw the band nominated for Best British Newcomer at the 1995 Brit Awards. In 2003, the album was ranked number 419 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album is often considered one of the greatest trip hop albums to date and is a milestone in the definition of the genre.
After their initial success, Portishead withdrew from the spotlight for three years until their second album, Portishead, was released in 1997. The album's sound differed from Dummy, characterised as "grainy and harsher." Three singles, "All Mine", "Over" and "Only You" were released, the first one achieving a Top 10 placing in the UK.
In 1997, the band performed a one-off show with strings at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. A live album primarily featuring these new orchestral arrangements of the group's songs was released in 1998. There was also a long-form VHS video of the performance, and a DVD followed in 2002, with substantial extra material including many early music videos.
In 1999, Portishead recorded the song "Motherless Child" with Tom Jones for his album Reload. For the next few years, the band members concentrated on solo and other pursuits. In February 2005, the band appeared live for the first time in seven years at the Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol. Around that time, Barrow revealed that the band was in the process of writing its third album. In August 2006, the band posted two new tracks on its MySpace page (called "Key Bored 299 03" and "Greek Jam"), described by Barrow as "doodles". Around the same time, Portishead covered Serge Gainsbourg's "Un Jour Comme un Autre (Requiem for Anna)" on the tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.
On 2 October 2007, Portishead stated that the new album Third had been mixed and was nearly complete, and was due for release in early April 2008. The release was later pushed to 28 April. On 8 and 9 December 2007, the band curated the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England. The festival featured their first full live sets in nearly 10 years. They premiered five tracks from the new album: "Silence", "Hunter", "The Rip", "We Carry On", and "Machine Gun". On 21 January 2008, a European tour to support the album was announced, together with a headline spot at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on 26 April 2008, their only U.S. date on the tour.
Third was made available on Last.fm the week before release, attracting 327,000 listeners in just under 24 hours. It was the first time Last.fm had made an album available before its official release date. The album was released on 29 April 2008 to coincide with the band's appearance at Coachella. Portishead's Geoff Barrow realised a "boyhood fantasy" when Chuck D of Public Enemy joined the band onstage at the "ATP I'll Be Your Mirror" festival curated by Portishead in Asbury Park, NJ in October 2011. He contributed his verse from the P.E. song "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" over Portishead's single "Machine Gun".
On 18 May 2008, Barrow expressed Portishead's enthusiasm for recording new material on their official website's blog, stating that he "can't wait to write some new tunes". On 28 September 2009, Barrow announced "big plans" for a new project with a new angle, hinting that an album could arrive as soon as late 2010. Whilst the album had yet to materialise, on 9 December 2009, the band released the song "Chase the Tear" for Human Rights Day to raise money for Amnesty International UK. Additionally, on 3 December 2008, Universal Music Japan reissued the albums Dummy and Portishead in limited edition on SHM-CD.
During Summer 2011, Portishead performed at a number of festivals in Europe, including, Pohoda Festival, Exit Festival, Benicàssim Festival in Spain, Rock Werchter, Paleo Festival, Roskilde Festival, the Hurricane/Southside Festivals in Germany, and the Super Bock Super Rock music festival. The band also headlined and curated the line-up for two All Tomorrow's Parties music festivals entitled I'll Be Your Mirror, in London at Alexandra Palace on 23 and 24 July. The second took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey from 30 September – 2 October. Portishead then visited several cities in North America, including New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Seattle, Vancouver, and Denver during October. The Chicago Tribune hailed the concert and noted: "horror-movie accents—Gothic organ, guitar lines thick with menacing reverb, spooky theremin—ensured a certain darkness". They finished their tour with a jaunt to Australia and New Zealand. Barrow stated in a Rolling Stone interview that he would begin work on his portion of the album in January 2012, jokingly pointing out that it could be another decade before a new album is released.
In 2013 the band headlined the Other Stage at the Glastonbury Music festival and embarked on a European tour. In summer 2014, they played several concerts around Europe. 2015 saw Portishead continue to perform live, playing festivals such as fib (Benicassim, Spain), Latitude (Southwold, Suffolk, UK), and the Montreux Jazz Festival (Montreux, Switzerland). Additionally, Portishead produced a cover of ABBA's song "SOS" for the soundtrack to the movie High-Rise which had a Gala screening at the London Film Festival on 9 October 2015. In 2016, the band won an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. On 22 June 2016, Portishead released an official video for "SOS" that recontextualized the song in the wake of the then-recent murder of MP Jo Cox and the Brexit vote, taking place the next day; the video ends with Beth Gibbons reaching her hand out towards the viewer and then a quote by Cox appears: "We have far more in common than which divides us."
Portishead's music was influenced by a wide range of singers and composers. Gibbons's voice was compared to singer Billie Holiday. Utley mentioned the spaghetti western guitar composed by Ennio Morricone; he said that "[Morricone's] The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the sort of soundtracks that I love".
|1995||NME Awards||Themselves||Best Dance Act||Nominated|
|Edison Awards||Best International Dance/Rap||Won|
|2016||Music Week Sync Awards||"SOS"||Film Soundtrack||Won|
|Rober Awards Music Poll||Best Cover Version||Won|
The trend will continue this year when two of Britain's most important '90s alternative bands-The Verve and Portishead-make their respective U.S. returns for the first time in nearly a decade.
Adrian Francis Utley (born 28 April 1957) is an English musician and producer, and a member of the band Portishead.All Mine (Portishead song)
"All Mine" is the second track and first single from English band Portishead's self-titled second album. It was released as a single, along with "Cowboys", "Only You" and "Over". The music video—based on a 1968 Italian music show and The Outer Limits—featured a little girl singing in front of an orchestra. The single reached #8 in the United Kingdom and is so far the band's only Top 10 hit there.Anika (musician)
Anika (born Annika Henderson; 6 February 1987 in Surrey, UK) is a British and German singer-songwriter, musician, political journalist and poet.Beak (band)
Beak (stylized as BEAK>) are an English electronic music band, consisting of Geoff Barrow (of Portishead) with Billy Fuller (Robert Plant) and Will Young (Moon Gangs), who replaced Matt Williams (MXLX, Fairhorns) in 2016.Beak released their self-titled debut album on 16 November 2009. The music was recorded live in one room with no overdubs or repair, only using edits to create arrangements. All tracks were written over a twelve-day session in Bristol, England.Beak produced the debut album Anika by Anika and co-wrote two of the album's songs in 2010.In 2010, the band toured in the US and the UK. They were chosen by Portishead to perform at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival, that they curated in July 2011 at London's Alexandra Palace, as well as the US version of ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror in Asbury Park, New Jersey.They did the soundtrack for Tom Geens' 2015 film Couple in a Hole, drawing largely on the band's earlier material.Beth Gibbons
Beth Gibbons (born 4 January 1965) is an English singer and songwriter. She is the singer and lyricist for the band Portishead.Chase the Tear
"Chase the Tear" is a single released by the band Portishead on 10 December 2009, as a download-only for Human Rights Day to raise money for Amnesty International UK. It reached number 164 in the UK charts, and was later released as a limited edition 12" vinyl single on 14 November 2011, again for Amnesty UK.Geoff Barrow
Geoffrey Paul Barrow (born 9 December 1971) is an English music producer, composer, disc jockey, and is the instrumentalist for the band Portishead. Barrow is also a member of the band Beak and hip-hop supergroup Quakers, in addition to his work as a film score composer.
Portishead—formed in 1991—was named after the small coastal town near Bristol where Barrow grew up. On his intentions in forming Portishead, he has stated, "I just wanted to make interesting music, proper songs with a proper life span and a decent place in people's record collections."Glory Box
"Glory Box" is a song by English electronic band Portishead. It was released on 2 January 1995, as the third and final single from their 1994 debut album Dummy. The song samples "Ike's Rap II" by Isaac Hayes and the bassline from the Wallace Collection song "Daydream".Glory Times
Glory Times is a 1995 compilation album by English band Portishead which contains mixes of songs from Dummy as well as the theme from their short film To Kill a Dead Man. The two discs are the same as the respective singles for "Sour Times" and "Glory Box".Machine Gun (Portishead song)
"Machine Gun" is a song by English band Portishead. The song made its radio and download debut on 24 March 2008, acting as the lead single from their third studio album, Third (2008). It premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show and was made available for download on the band's official website. A UK one-sided 12 inch vinyl was released on 14 April 2008.Magic Doors
"Magic Doors" is the third single from English trip hop band Portishead's third studio album, Third. It was released on 24 November 2008 through Island Records. The music video for the song is an artistic film by longtime collaborator John Minton.Numb (Portishead song)
"Numb" is a song by English trip hop group Portishead. It was released on 6 June 1994, as the lead single from their 1994 debut album Dummy.Only You (Portishead song)
"Only You" is a single by English band Portishead, released in 1998. It was later released in a promotional French language lyrics version.The video to "Only You" was directed by Chris Cunningham, who has also worked with Aphex Twin, Björk, and Placebo. It involved Beth Gibbons floating in air, and a young boy. The people were shot in a tank of water and then digitally inserted into an alleyway of a street scene.
The band performed the song on American television variety show Saturday Night Live on January 17, 1998.Over (Portishead song)
"Over" is the second single of the album Portishead by the trip hop trio of the same name. It was #25 in the UK Charts at the time of its release. It has been used in numerous TV shows and movies.The promotional black-and-white music video directed by Chris Bran featured lead singer Beth Gibbons singing to the camera in the middle of the darkness and occasionally running from one spotlight to another.Roseland NYC Live
Roseland NYC Live is a live album by English band Portishead, released in 1998 by Go! Discs/London. A PAL format VHS video was released the same year, with a DVD version following four years later. Although the New York Philharmonic is credited as appearing in the video, none of the musicians are members of the Philharmonic, nor is the Philharmonic credited in the audio album.Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" (or simply "Motherless Child") is a traditional Negro spiritual. It dates back to the era of slavery in the United States. An early performance of the song dates back to the 1870s by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Like many traditional songs, it has many variations and has been recorded widely.Sour Times
"Sour Times" is a song by English trip hop group Portishead, from their debut album Dummy. It was written by all three members of the band. It was released by Go! Beat Records in 1994 as a CD single, accompanied by three bonus tracks: "It's a Fire", "Pedestal", and "Theme from 'To Kill a Dead Man'".The Rip (song)
"The Rip" is a song by English band Portishead. It was released on 9 June 2008 as the second single from their third studio album, Third (2008). The animated music video for the song made by Nick Uff was first broadcast on 12 May 2008, on the band's website. The song peaked at number 98 in France and was listed at #199 on Pitchfork Media's top 500 songs of the 2000s. Garrett Kamps of The Village Voice called the song "so good it may have been worth waiting 10 years for".The song has been used in an advert campaign for the Gucci Bloom line of perfume.To Kill a Dead Man
To Kill a Dead Man is a short film made in 1994 by the trip hop group Portishead. The film is a spy movie which revolves around an assassination and its aftermath.
The film is featured in the bonus section on the DVD version of Roseland NYC Live released in 2002. The theme can be found on both the 1995 compilation album Glory Times and the 1994 CD single "Sour Times". The music video for "Sour Times" also uses footage from the film.
A still from the film is featured on the cover of their album Dummy and several other stills appear in the CD booklet. A miniature image of the poster for the film is visible in the upper left corner at the back of this album.