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Released: October 18, 1994

Rating: 4.714 (average of 7 ratings)

Genre: dance/electronica

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. Mysterons
  2. Sour Times
  3. Strangers
  4. It Could Be Sweet
  5. Wandering Star
  6. It’s a Fire
  7. Numb
  8. Roads
  9. Pedestal
  10. Biscuit
  11. Glory Box

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 0.95
sales in U.K. only - estimated 0.6
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. 2.0
sales worldwide - estimated 3.55


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 79
peak on U.K. album chart 2

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Numb (6/6/94) --
  • Sour Times (8/13/94) #50a US, #13 UK, #5 MR
  • Glory Box (1/14/95) #13 UK


Rated one of the top 100 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Nationwide Mercury Prize – UK award for Album of the Year. Click to go to Mercury site. Q Magazine’s Top 100 Albums Spin Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums

“Portishead’s album debut is a brilliant, surprisingly natural synthesis of claustrophobic spy soundtracks, dark breakbeats inspired by frontman Geoff Barrow’s love of hip-hop, and a vocalist (Beth Gibbons) in the classic confessional singer/songwriter mold.” JB The band got themselves “signed due to their self composed soundtrack” WK for their “short film noir called To Kill a Dead Man,” DW from which a still was taken for the Dummy album cover. WK

“Building on the promise of their earlier EP – NumbWK and the tone set by Dead Man, “the same approach – gloomy, tormented, and wildly melodramatic – permeates the album.” DW “Beginning with the otherworldly theremin and martial beats of Mysterons, Dummy hits an early high with Sour Times, a post-modern torch song driven by a Lalo Schifrin sample.” JB That song and “the more cryptic Glory Box are the linchpins of the album, defining its sound: dark flashes of old soul and film music, dehumanized electronic bleeps, Gibbons emoting like she’s consumed by shame, and a bass-and-beat pulse derived from the slow bump and grind of the Bristol scene that spawned Barrow's old collaborators, Massive Attack.” DW

“The chilling atmospheres conjured by Adrian Utley’s excellent guitar work and Barrow’s turntables and keyboards prove the perfect foil for Gibbons, who balances sultriness and melancholia in equal measure. Occasionally reminiscent of a torchier version of Sade, Gibbons provides a clear focus for these songs, with Barrow and company behind her laying down one of the best full-length productions ever heard in the dance world. Where previous acts like Massive Attack had attracted dance heads in the main, Portishead crossed over to an American, alternative audience, connecting with the legion of angst-ridden indie fans as well. Better than any album before it, Dummy merged the pinpoint-precise productions of the dance world with pop hallmarks like great songwriting and excellent vocal performances.” JB “It helped to cement the reputation of Bristol as the capital of Trip hop.” WK

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Last updated March 7, 2011.