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Massive Attack – Blue Lines (1991)

January 21, 2020

[Album 712/1001]

Question: what do they call the area between the Blue Lines in a hockey rink?

Answer: the neutral zone.

And in the mid-90s, the New Jersey Devils (THE DEVILS!) employed a highly successful strategy dubbed ‘The neutral zone trap.’Untitled presentation (4)

Their secret? Thwart the opposing team’s massive attack by clogging up the neutral zone, keeping them stuck in between the Blue Lines for the entire game.

By using the trap, they completely shut down the high flying Detroit Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final.

Was it exciting?

Well…they now refer to this era of professional hockey as, the ‘dead puck era.’

But in fairness, in the finals, New Jersey defenseman/blue-liner Scott Niedermayer did score an end-to-end goal that was highlight-reel material.

The kind of stand-out moment that made fans stand up & cheer.

But apart from that, it was difficult to get too excited about the on-ice product.



Clearly (and is there anything more clear than mid-90s hockey jargon metaphors?), Massive Attack is the 1995 New Jersey Devils.

As the Devils played the trap before it was called the trap, I gather Massive Attack played trip hop before it was called trip hop!

When the music world was playing loose & loud in ’91, here the tempos never race, everything in its right place.220px-MassiveAttackBlueLines (1)

While, that can be quite effective, much like the Devils defensive system, it’s not going to convert a lot of new fans.

And I found on many of the Blue Lines tracks, I was stuck in the neutral zone of enjoyment/excitement, neither loving nor loathing what I was hearing.

That is, until there was a stand-out performer to get me out of my seat.

Thankfully, on Blue Lines, Shara Nelson played the role of Scott Niedermayer (or I suppose, given the release date, Scott Niedermayer was the Shara Nelson of the ’95 Devils).

When she was singing, I was all ears.

And if the hockey metaphor was gibberish (and your album review-reading enjoyment was therefore trapped in the neutral zone or worse), that’s the key takeaway message!

Untitled presentation (5)


Verbalize the Positive

Niedermayer was one of the all-time great skaters & impressively, he kept getting better as a defenseman as he aged!

From → 1990s

  1. Remember that one playoff year Geoff where Niedermayer took out one guy in each of the first two rounds. Kariya/Lindros were laid out by Scott.
    What a player but yeah that defensive trap lulled teams to sleep including me as a viewer as I couldn’t watch the Devils at all.
    But it worked for them so more power to em.

    • I much prefer the ’80s Oilers style of play, winning games 8-6 rather than 1-0!
      Those ’90s/’00s Devils teams were tough to beat – one of the Scott’s could have been on the ice for most of the game. And it was a pick your poison, like you said, Deke: either get laid out by Stevens at the blue line or end up looking silly as Niedermayer smoothly skates around you!

      • 80’s was run in gun hockey. I’m with ya on that Geoff.
        Scott was a great player with a ton of skill and was nasty as F**K!

      • That he was – all of the above!

  2. jprobichaud permalink

    Haha. This is. Awesome. I never thought I’d read the New Jersey Devils and Massive Attack in the same sentence but there it is. And now I understand both much better.

    • Cheers JP!
      I remember really liking when Tracey Thorn sang with them as well – it appears I really like my trip hop with fantastic female vocals!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        I think I’m right with you on the female vocals on trip hop tracks.

  3. I was wondering where you want to go with the hockey metaphor, but I totally get it!!

    • My thanks, John – it was fun for me to apply some of my countless hours of watching hockey in the ’90s to other things!

  4. I’m not much of a hockey guy but I remember working an overnight shift when the Devils went to 2 or 3AM working the trap during a playoff game.

    • Theoretically, playoff OT games are supposed to be exciting – I’m guessing there’s a chance even a multiple OT game, they managed to trap the excitement out of it!

      • It was boring at the start but then became exciting to see how long the game could go.

  5. They have some amazingly good female vocal songs – Liz Fraser as well. I don’t get the hockey references – I understand rugby better.

    • I’ll see if I can work in a rugby metaphor at some point – though you likely understand hockey more than I understand rugby!

  6. I don’t get the hockey metaphor and I don’t know the album, but my takeaway is that it’s a pretty decent listen and I should try learn more about both Blue Lines and hockey.

    • I think that was the optimal takeaway, J.
      Though I’d skip the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals – perhaps listen to the opening track from blue lines instead!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1991 | 1001albumsin10years

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