Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 327
Sat, Dec 8, 2012

“Saturday Come Slow [feat. Damon Albarn]”
Massive Attack


“♫ This
town turning/ my
rose to desire/
Saturday come
slow/ do
you love

It seems that Damon Albarn has been trying to make up for the 1996 falling out with Tricky on his Nearly God project. Having found inspiration from Brian Eno’s War Child album, that took John Lennon’s theory of writing a song for breakfast, recording that song for lunch and releasing said song for dinner, but Damon was apprehensively unsure about his own vocals over Tricky’s terrifying trip hop beats. Tricky explained why Albarn’s song didn’t make Nearly God’s final running order when he told Raygun, “The Damon one is never going to come out. He wants to work on something for like two months and then do the vocals again and again and again, and I don’t work like that.” Tricky was just following the same creative method for Nearly God but 1996’s Albarn was years away from his genius experimentation Blur phase that lead to the formation of Gorillaz & The Good The Bad & The Queen.

Maybe Albarn wasn’t ready to take on the trip hop mantle and work with the mad working process of tripped out Tricky. In 2003 Damon joined Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja with their anti-Iraqi Stop The War protest movement. A friendship between 3D and Albarn was formed and seven years later in 2010, with a request from Del Naja, Albarn went back and took a more refined creative look inside the Bristol inspired sound this time helping out trip hop pioneers Massive Attack. But 2010 edition of Damon didn’t just add vocals to a Massive Attack song; Albarn’s collaboration was a turning point for Massive Attack’s Heligoland sessions as band leader Robert “3D” Del Naja told NME when he said, “[“Saturday Come Slow”] changed everything up. It was a different energy and a different environment. We started to strip everything back and build it back up again. That feels like the start of what the album is now.

Massive Attack member Grant Marshall talked about Damon Albarn’s amazing work ethic when it came to creating the lyrical canvas that was ‘Saturday Come Slow,” when he said, “It was the first time we had worked together since Mezzanine and Damon said that we’d all do a song together. We didn’t know if he expected us to have any lyrics ready, so we gave him some and he looked at us. as if to say. ‘What are you doing? I shit lyrics.’ He wrote his part for Saturday Come Slow on the way into work.”

Damon learned his lesson when attempting to work with trip hop madman, and one of my favorites, Tricky. Albarn set some rules on working with Massive Attack as 3D explained when he said, “I’m only going to do this if I don’t get dragged into a Bristol time-warp for two years, I’m only going to work on major chords, no minor chords, and we’re going to work from 10 until 4 in the afternoon,’” Del Naja talked about how worth it was having Albarn come collaborate with Massive Attack because of his devoted creative mindset as 3D discussed when he said, “Every time he applies himself to something you know that the soul and meaning he puts into it will define how great it always is. It’s never just a casual dalliance with something, it’s something he believes in, so getting him to concentrate on us for a period of time was really spectacular.”

Robert “3D” Del Naja was definitely amazed at the lyrical prowess of Damon Albarn as his contribution to Heligoland was more than just collaboration with Massive Attack. Albarn lyrically sculpted “Saturday Come Slow” into a classic English ode to the bands home town of Bristol as Del Naja explained when he said, “Damon wrote this about Bristol and the sort of limestone caves of the south-west land. ‘One sound that the believers understand’: you know, it’s definitely about Bristol and Damon interpreting our relationship with our own land. It’s almost, like, you know, frontiers and medieval times, when the land was divided into counties, this being the county of Bristol and his view of it. And also I think his experience of passing through it and of places like Glastonbury or Devon.”

Damon Albarn’s lyrical genius is what turned the hazy Heligoland sessions into something memorably magical. Creating a timeless tribute to the town where the Bristol sound of Trip Hop began, it may have taken years but Damon finally appeased the trip hop gods by helping Massive Attack compose the majestic “Saturday Come Slow.” I invite you to take the Massive Attack and Damon Albarn inspired musical trip. This once apprehensive songwriter, Damon has earned his trip hop stripes with my favorite cut from Heligoland. The former Blur singer has rewritten the rules of the Bristol inspired genre, “Saturday” may “Come Slow” but this now Albarn penned Massive Attack classic was definitely worth the wait.