P.M. Dawn

Set Adrift on Memory Bliss

Composed by Attrell Cordes / Gary Kemp

Song Review by

PM Dawn's "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" -- the first single from their 1991 debut album, Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience -- posited new ways in which hip-hop could be combined with pop and other outside influences. Because the song was mellow, lush, and melodic, and because it had virtually no connection to the streets of urban America, it was dismissed in hardcore rap circles (most famously by Boogie Down Productions' KRS-One) as nothing but another diluted pop sellout. However, "Set Adrift" really had nothing to do with the over-simplified lyrics, obvious posturing, or hardly altered samples that informed the biggest pop-rap breakthroughs in the early '90s. The song fused samples from new romantic group Spandau Ballet's lush pop ballad "True" with a commonly sampled hip-hop drum track and urban soul vocals cast in multiple overdubs. It was a sort of fusion that hadn't really been attempted before, and that's why most critics gave the group such glowing reviews. PM Dawn was also a bit more serious and spiritual than most rap outfits, sort of the flip side of De La Soul's easygoing hip-hop hippie vibe; the lyrics of "Set Adrift" were full of Eastern-tinged, cosmic philosophizing that fit perfectly into the sonic background. Specifically, the song was about letting go of personal attachments once they had outlived their importance, allowing them to take their place in the recesses of memory, where they may or may not be recalled. Not the sort of subject matter most hip-hop groups were taking on, which gave PM Dawn a perspective as unique as their sound. Audiences responded en masse, as "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" hit number one in the fall of 1991.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Of the Heart, Of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience 1991 Gee Street Records 4:10
Absolute Music, Vol. 12 1991
Various Artists
Eva 3:56
Red Hot + Dance 1992
Various Artists
Columbia 5:17
No Image 1992
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Let's Talk About Love 1992
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 3:55
No Image 1992 Polygram
Beats Rhymes & Basslines 1994
Various Artists
Alex 4:00
100% Pure Love 1994
Various Artists
Telstar 3:48
The  Greatest Hits of 90's, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Telstar
Number 1 Hit Mix 1995
Various Artists
RCA
25 Years of Number 1 Hits, Vol. 10 1996
Various Artists
Connoisseur
Amazing Grace [Polygram] 1997
Various Artists
Island / Polygram 4:10
Groove Is in the Heart [Renaissance] 1997
Various Artists
Renaissance Records 5:19
No Image 1998 V2 4:15
No Image 1998 Gee Street Records / V2
Millennium Hip-Hop Party 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:57
Now: 1991 [1999] 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 3:51
Unstoppable 90's: Urban Jams [K-Tel] 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:57
Millennium Party [Rhino Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:57
MTV the First 1000 Years: R&B 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:57
Hip Hop Party [Double Play] 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:55
Ultramix 2000
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:11
The Best of P.M. Dawn 2000 V2 3:59
New Millennium Party 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 3:57
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1991 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 4:13
Sounds of the 90's: Into the 90's [Time Life] 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:11
Ultra Mix: Dance Hits of the 80s and 90s 2004
Various Artists
Madacy/Universal 4:11
History of Hip Hop, Vol. 2 2004
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
No Image 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 3:58
Sing-A-Long Summer 2005
Various Artists
WEA/Warner Special Marketing 4:10
I Love Black, Vol. 2 2007
Various Artists
Beggars Banquet 3:58
Onelove: Smash Your Stereo 2007
Various Artists
Red Label 1:59
Chillout: Greatest Ever 2008
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 4:13
Most Requested 2008 Sheridan Square Records 3:59
Back to Life: '90s Soul, Groove & Club Classics 2011
Various Artists
Universal Music 3:58
R&B Summerjamz 2012
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 3:57
Latest & Greatest Soul Stars 2015
Various Artists
USM Media
BRIT Awards Decades: '90s
Various Artists
Rhino 3:57
Grandmix 90's Edition, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
No Image
Various Artists
Discomagic
Summer Love
Various Artists
Stargrove 4:13
blue highlight denotes editor's pick