Nearly God

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Nearly God
Tricky - Nearly God.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 1996
GenreTrip hop, experimental,[1] lo-fi[2]
Tricky chronology
Nearly God
Pre-Millennium Tension

Nearly God is the unofficial second album by English rapper and producer Tricky.[3] It was released in February 1996 under the pseudonym "Nearly God",[4] which originated from an interview during which Tricky was asked "so how does it feel to be God... well, nearly God."[5]

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.[3] According to Tricky, "I needed it to come out, but Island would never let me release two Tricky albums in the same year";[5] his official second album Pre-Millennium Tension was released in September 1996.[3]

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).[4]


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".[6] The tracks were re-worked & 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." [7] 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.[8] Scott McKeating of Stylus Magazine describes Nearly God as a much darker-sounding album than Maxinquaye, calling it a "dark, zoned out, Class-A substance damaged lo-fi affair which still manages to force melody through dark mesh. Realistically though, this isn’t a dyspeptic, career destroying Metal Machine Music themed 'fuck you'. Because while the songs forms are barely scratched in, never mind being fleshed out; Tricky makes the sound of dark nights, of want and solitude just as engaging as anything on his debut."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Alternative Press5/5[9]
Chicago Tribune[10]
Entertainment WeeklyA[11]
The Guardian[12]
Los Angeles Times[13]
Rolling Stone[15]

Nearly God received positive reviews from critics.[4] James Hunter of 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 from entropy's numbing flow small gifts of nuance and emotional resonance."[17] 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".[18]

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.[19] 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".[20]

As of September 2003 it has sold 54,000 copies in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan.[21] In naming it trip hop's eighteenth greatest album, John Twells and Laurent Fintoni of FACT Magazine wrote: "What sounds like it could have been a self-indulgent victory lap for (back then) one of the UK’s most notorious stars is somehow a coherent, exemplary document of a peculiar time in British music."[22]

The music video for Poems won a D&AD Pencil Award. Directed by Pinko for Stark2 Films with Nick Verden producing, the video was filmed on location at Paddington Basin London.

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)


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[23]

  • Art direction and design – Cally On Art Island
  • Co-producer – Pete Briquette (tracks: 1, 6, 8)
  • Photography – Moi Lucas
  • Recording, Programming & Mixing - Ian Caple
  • 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-Millennium Tension". Vibe Magazine. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b McKeating, Scott (12 January 2004). "Tricky: An Incredible Weed-Smoking, Trip-Hop Denying, Paranoid, Schizophrenic". Stylus Magazine. p. 2. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Nearly God – Nearly God / Tricky". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Franklin, Wayne (21 August 2002). "Tricky: A Ruff Guide". PopMatters. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b The Face – April 96
  6. ^ "Official Biography". Tricky. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  7. ^ The Madness of King Tricky I – Raygun 96
  8. ^ Boyd, Brian. "He Be The Prophet". The Irish Times. 24 May 1996. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Nearly God: Nearly God". Alternative Press. Cleveland (99): 96–97. October 1996.
  10. ^ Kot, Greg (12 September 1996). "Tricky: Nearly God (Durban Poison/Island)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  11. ^ Mirkin, Steven (16 August 1996). "Nearly God". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  12. ^ Garratt, Sheryl (19 April 1996). "Nearly God: Nearly God (Durban Poison)". The Guardian. London.
  13. ^ Romero, Dennis (18 August 1996). "Are We in the Mood for Tricky's Bleak Side?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  14. ^ a b Morton, Roger (20 April 1996). "May the Thaws Be with You". NME. London.
  15. ^ a b Hunter, James (22 August 1996). "Nearly God: Nearly God". Rolling Stone. New York.
  16. ^ Morris, Mark (May 1996). "Nearly God: Nearly God". Select. London (71).
  17. ^ a b Sutton, Terri (September 1996). "Nearly God: Nearly God". Spin. New York. 12 (6): 150. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  18. ^ Parkes, Taylor (5 April 1996). "Second Coming". Melody Maker. London.
  19. ^ 1996 Pazz & Jop
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Nearly God". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. pp. xvi, 223. ISBN 0312245602. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  21. ^ Group, Vibe Media (September 2003). "Vibe".
  22. ^ Twells, John; Fintoni, Laurent. "The 50 best trip-hop albums of all time". Fact Mag. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  23. ^ Anon. (1996). Nearly God (CD liner notes). Nearly God. Durban Poison, 4th & B'way Records. DPCD 1001 / 524 245-2.

External links[edit]