Nearly God

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Nearly God
Tricky - Nearly God.jpg
Studio album by Nearly God
Released February 1996
Genre Trip hop, experimental[1]
Length 64:44
Label Island
Producer Tricky
Tricky chronology
Nearly God
Pre-Millennium Tension

Nearly God is the unofficial second album by English rapper and producer Tricky.[2] It was released in February 1996 under the pseudonym "Nearly God",[3] which originated from an interview during which Tricky was asked "so how does it feel to be God... well, nearly God."[4]

Described by Tricky as a compilation of exceptional yet unfinished demos, Nearly God was the result of a clause in his recording contract with Island Records, which allowed him to release an album once a year under a name other than his own.[2] According to Tricky, "I needed it to come out, but Island would never let me release two Tricky albums in the same year";[4] his official second album Pre-Millennium Tension was released in September 1996.[2]

An austerely produced trip hop record, Nearly God was well received by critics and featured collaborations between Tricky and artists such as Alison Moyet, Björk, Neneh Cherry, Terry Hall, and Martina Topley-Bird, who had worked with him on his previous album Maxinquaye (1995).[3]


Nearly God was recorded in three weeks during the summer, in New York and London, and Tricky himself describes it as "a collection of brilliant, incomplete demos".[5] It was mixed in London by Ian Caple & Tricky.

Originally, Nearly God also included a song with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, but it was removed at the last minute, with Tricky expressing displeasure at Albarn's working methods, saying: "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." [6] The song was later recorded again with former Madness singer Suggs, but this version ("I'll pass right through you") was not released either. Four of ten rumoured songs with Neneh Cherry were released on her singles "Woman", "Kootchi" and "Feel it" in 1996 and 1997. Tricky also recorded another song with Cath Coffey, a cover of the Grease song "Summer Nights" which was released in 1997 on her first album Mind the Gap (released only in Japan so far).

The final product contains collaborations with Terry Hall (singer of The Specials), Alison Moyet, Cath Coffey, Neneh Cherry, Björk and Martina Topley-Bird. The first track is a cover of "Tattoo", a b-side of popular post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Alternative Press 5/5[8]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[9]
Christgau's Consumer Guide (1-star Honorable Mention)[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[11]
Entertainment Weekly A[12]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[13]
NME 7/10[14]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[15]
Spin 8/10[16]

Nearly God received positive reviews from critics.[3] Rolling Stone found the music gripping, "recalling the early intimacy of Laurie Anderson, the raw aggression of Public Image Ltd. and the spaced oddities of Scott Walker".[15] Spin magazine's Terri Sutton was impressed by Tricky's production and the record's "obsession with debilitating stasis", comparing it favourably to Sly & the Family Stone's 1971 album There's a Riot Goin' On: "Nearly God is most indebted to Riot for the idea that an attention to details, a precise awareness, can capture frrom entropy's numbing flow small gifts of nuance and emotional resonance."[16] Roger Morton from NME was less enthusiastic: "The loopy loops and dysfunctional mantras of Tricky's smoked-out backing tracks are less structured and more spartan than on Maxinquaye. Sometimes it sound like he's just kicked the sequencer and walked out. The onus is heavily on the singers to carry the weight, and it doesn't always work."[14] In Melody Maker, Taylor Parkes deemed it "a mess, albeit a hugely affecting one, a stop-gap, when three more months spent on arrangements and production would have fastered a masterpiece to surpass Maxinquaye".[17]

At the end of 1996, Nearly God was voted the 19th best album of the year in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics nationwide, published by The Village Voice.[18] Robert Christgau, the poll's creator, later gave it a one-star honorable mention, indicating "a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like". He cited "Together Now" and "Children's Story" as highlights and felt the record indulged in a sluggishness "true Tricky albums only play with".[10]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Tattoo" (Siouxsie Sioux, Steven Severin, Budgie)
  2. "Poems" (with Terry Hall and Martina Topley-Bird)
  3. "Together Now" (with Neneh Cherry)
  4. "Keep Your Mouth Shut" (with Björk)
  5. "I Be the Prophet" (with Martina Topley-Bird)
  6. "Make a Change" (with Alison Moyet)
  7. "Black Coffee" (Paul Francis Webster, Sonny Burke) (with Martina Topley-Bird)
  8. "Bubbles" (with Terry Hall)
  9. "I Sing for You" (with Cath Coffey and Dedi Madden)
  10. "Yoga" (with Björk)
  11. "Judas'" (US Release) (with Martina Topley-Bird) (Cover of Depeche Mode)
  12. "Children's Story" (US Release) (with Martina Topley-Bird) (Cover of Slick Rick)

"Together Now" was featured on Neneh Cherry's album Man and it could be considered a co-authored track, rather than simply Cherry featuring on Tricky's album. "Keep Your Mouth Shut" samples the song "Dedicated" by Das EFX from their album Hold it Down, and features lyrics from Björk's song "You've Been Flirting Again", from the album Post.[citation needed]

"Poems" uses a small loop from "Strugglin'" from Tricky's debut record Maxinquaye.[citation needed]


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[19]

  • Art direction and design – Cally On Art Island
  • Co-producer – Pete Briquette (tracks: 1, 6, 8)
  • Photography – Moi Lucas
  • Producer – Tricky
  • Sleeve (concept) – Tricky
  • Vocals – Bjork (tracks: 4, 10), Martina Topley Bird (tracks: 2, 5, 7), Terry Hall (tracks: 2, 8), Tricky (tracks: 1 to 5, 7, 8, 10)
  • Songwriting – Bjork (tracks: 4, 10), Terry Hall (tracks: 2, 8), Tricky (tracks: 2 to 6, 8 to 10)


  1. ^ Idowu, Omoronke. "Tricky - Pre-Millenium Tension". Vibe Magazine. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Nearly God — Nearly God, Tricky : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Franklin, Wayne (21 August 2002). "Tricky: A Ruff Guide". PopMatters. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b The Face - April 96
  5. ^ Official Biography
  6. ^ The Madness of King Tricky I - Raygun 96
  7. ^ Boyd, Brian. "He Be The Prophet". The Irish Times. 24 May 1996. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  8. ^ Alternative Press (10/96, pp.96-97) - 5 (out of 5) - "...Through an obfuscating veil of Indo smoke and relentless ambition, Tricky transfigures himself as musical divinity..."
  9. ^ Chicago Tribune review
  10. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2000). "Nearly God". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. pp. xvi, 223. ISBN 0312245602. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 3535. ISBN 0857125958. 
  12. ^,,293750,00.html
  13. ^ Los Angeles Times review
  14. ^ a b Morton, Roger (1996). "May the Thaws Be with You". NME. London. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  15. ^ a b Rolling Stone (8/22/96) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...engrossing music, recalling the early intimacy of Laurie Anderson, the raw aggression of Public Image Ltd. and the spaced oddities of Scott Walker and Underworld. Blues guitar notes get ripped away from tradition....subtle beats provide accent and flavor below floating orchestrations..."
  16. ^ a b "Nearly God". Spin. New York: 150. September 1996. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 
  17. ^ Parkes, Taylor (1996). "Second Coming". Melody Maker. London (5 April). Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  18. ^ 1996 Pazz & Jop
  19. ^ Anon. (1996). Nearly God (CD liner notes). Nearly God. Durban Poison, 4th & B'way Records. DPCD 1001 / 524 245-2. 

External links[edit]