Given the lukewarm reception afforded their most recent album, the timely release of a best-of may scream “cash-in,” but that doesn’t mean Collected doesn’t hold plenty of genre-hopping gems. Once the darlings of the UK trip-hop scene, Massive Attack have spent a decade pooling hip-hop, reggae, club-friendly beats and ecclesiastical orchestral arrangements, producing moody chill-out tracks, as represented here by the dense mysticism of Teardrop and the heady Inertia Creeps. Protection, with its relentless piano and lazy vocals is as relaxing as it is sinister, while Karmacoma sees the group at their most flippant, exploiting exotic beats.
In the shadow of their first three albums, Collected feels more like a trip-hop down memory lane than an exploration of the group’s greatness. As a best-of, it lacks the celestial Hymn Of The Big Wheel and the musical claustrophobia of Heat Miser.
What we have here is a record that collates the best of Blue Lines, Protection and Mezzanine, stuffs them into some flashy packaging and tosses in a bonus CD of dodgy remixes and b-sides. Hardcore fans will shell out for the extra material, while others must endure weak filler tracks. Here, it looks like everybody loses.