The 1995 Mercury Music Prize must go down as having one of the best shortlists in the award’s history. No guilt awards, nothing overbearingly obvious, nothing alienating. Just a string of great albums.
Radiohead’s classic The Bends didn’t even make the list, such was the quality of the field. That Leftism missed out is no embarrassment – Portishead’s equally excellent Dummy ended up winning.
Paul Daley and Neil Barnes concoct an intense sound, with moments of the euphoric (‘Song of Life’), the sinister (‘Storm 3000′) and even the poignant (‘21st Century Poem’).
An unlikely collaborator in John Lydon brings something to this record, powerfully yelping ‘Burn Hollywood burn/Taking down Tinseltown’ on stand-out track ‘Open Up’, before it breaks down into an almost reggae outro. Throughout the record Daley and Barnes successfully combine dub and techno to groundbreaking effect.
‘Sonically we’re in control’ guest vocalist Toni Halliday purrs on ‘Original’, and she isn’t kidding.