Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (1991)

Unfinished+Sympathy

“Unfinished Sympathy” is a song by English group Massive Attack, written by the three band members Robert “3D” Del Naja, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, the song’s vocalist Shara Nelson and the group’s co-producer Jonathan “Jonny Dollar” Sharp. The song was released as the second single from the band’s debut album Blue Lines, on the band’s Wild Bunch label distributed through Circa Records on 11 February 1991. The single was released under the temporary group name of Massive to avoid a radio ban as its release coincided with the Gulf War. Produced by Massive Attack and Dollar, the song incorporates various musical elements into its arrangement, including vocal and percussion samples, drum programming, and string orchestration by arranger Wil Malone. Upon release as a single, “Unfinished Sympathy” topped the Dutch Top 40 and became a top twenty hit on the singles charts of countries including Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The single was accompanied by a memorable music video, directed by Baillie Walsh, featuring a single continuous shot of Nelson walking through a Los Angeles neighbourhood, oblivious of her surroundings.

Recognised as a pioneering song in the development of British dance music, “Unfinished Sympathy” was acclaimed by music critics for its distinctive production and Nelson’s vocals. It ranked highly on several publications’ year-end lists of the best singles of 1991, and has since featured in many polls of the best singles of all time of both music critics and the public worldwide.

The song later appeared on the soundtrack to the 1993 film Sliver.

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