BBC Radio 4 — Soul Music, Unfinished Sympathy

Melissa Chemam
2 min readNov 29, 2021


Personal stories inspired by Massive Attack’s breakthrough single, including a photographer whose work formed the backdrop to the song at the band’s 2016 show in Bristol.

Personal stories inspired by Massive Attack’s breakthrough single. Featuring the vocals of Shara Nelson, the track together with its iconic video would help catapult this band from Bristol onto the global stage.

Stories include:

  • the photographer Giles Duley whose work was displayed during the song at the band’s 2016 homecoming show in Bristol.
  • Mountaineer Dmitry Golovchenko who named an attempt on the Nepalese mountain of Jannu after the track,
  • solicitor Marti Burgess who saw early sets from The Wild Bunch, the collective from which Massive Attack emerged, and for whom ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ helped crystallise her identity.
  • Music Producer Ski Oakenfull, who deconstructs the track, peeling back the layers of beats, bells and samples.
  • Belgian singer Liz Aku, who recorded a version of the track during lockdown, bringing back memories of her first love.
  • Melissa Chemam, author of ‘Massive Attack Out Of The Comfort Zone’ explains the origins of Massive Attack, on how ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ was written and why, when the track was released in 1991, the band had to drop the word ‘Attack’ from their name.
  • A radio producer and DJ who spent New Year’s Eve in a detox centre in London was asked to pick the tune to be played at midnight, and she chose ‘Unfinished Sympathy’.

Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field

Originally published at



Melissa Chemam

Freelance journalist/writer, I’ve reported in 30 countries for the BBC, CBC, DW, magazines, on African-European relations, social change, arts, music & politics