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Reading the book 'Bit of a Blur' recently, I remembered just how much I love the music of the great British band that is Blur. For many years now I have had a strong appreciation for the music of the band, always the albums that Blur have released have been full of life and excitement; catchy tracks have been a prominent feature of all of the bands releases and never does the music of Blur cease to amaze me.
'Popscene' was the first single that Blur ever released as a band, it was released to coincide with the bands Rollercoaster tour, a tour that would take in the United States and came about as a result of the band being £60 000 in debt. The idea was to recuperate some of these major losses, although the single only charted at number 32 it was a huge turning point for the band. It was a very British sounding record, the start of something new and really rather special; Britpop. American grunge bands such as Nirvana were ruling the charts at the time, Blur wanted to change this and once more make British music popular. The band did not like the stale music scene that was present, a world where many sound-alike bands riddled the scene and no one seemed prepared to do things a little bit differently.
In 1994 Blur's breakthrough record was released in the form of 'Parklife', an excellent album which features the hit singles of 'Girls & Boys' and title track 'Parklife' also. 'Girls & Boys' was the first single released here, a track that peaked at number five in the charts and can perhaps be considered as one of the best tracks that this band has ever written. The whole 'Parklife' album is excellent, a supreme breakthrough record from the band and one that I personally am particularly fond of. The irony here is that the success of Britpop meant that a number of copycat bands were formed in order to jump on the bandwagon and ride on the success of the Britpop genre. There were a couple of good Britpop bands and a sea of others that were merely copying the leaders and had no real original ideas of their own. A genre of music that was created to get rid of copycat bands merely made change to the sound that was being copied. The music scene was still all too similar, grunge had been replaced with Britpop however and this was now the genre of choice for bands to be creating.
Blur followed the 'Parklife' album the following year with 'The Great Escape', another strong release and one that contains some top tracks such as 'Charmless Man' and 'Country House'. This is another incredible album and yet another Blur release that I have nothing but love for. Always the music of Blur has appealed to me greatly, there is something greatly satisfying about listening to the bands albums and never does this band ever seem to put a note wrong. In 1997 the band released the self-titled album 'Blur', the fifth of the bands career and a never huge success. The anthemic 'Song 2' features here, a track that is full of life and in which the band sounds incredibly enthusiastic. The sound created here sounds somewhat similar to the Nirvana grunge sound that the band replaced with Britpop; perhaps this is a parody on behalf of the band, a tongue in cheek musical stab at the popular genre bands such as Blur and Oasis managed to replace with their very British sounding take on music.
In total there are seven studio albums out there release by Blur, '13' was the sixth and was released in 1999, 'Think Tank' the seventh and emerged in 2003. These two albums provide further evidence of the excellence of this band, for a band to have released seven strong albums is no small achievement and I personally love each and every one of them. Some of the bands finest music can be found on 'Blur: The Best of', a compilation album which was released in the year 2000 comprising of some of the bands greatest hits. Tracks from the bands first five alums can be found here and although the release ignores the latter two albums it is an extremely complete collection indeed. The album features a grand total of eighteen Blur tracks, all of which are excellent and for all those that are not familiar with the bands music then this is as good a starting place as any. Listening to 'Blur: The best of' gives you a great idea of the brilliance of Blur as a band, the four-piece has released some excellent music over the years and the compilation collection showcases this sensationally.
Since 2003 the band has been on hiatus. No official statements have been released about the future of Blur as yet; it would seem however that a reunion is extremely unlikely. Several times there have been suggestions that Blur would reform as a band, it is yet to happen though and all four members currently seem happy to be doing their own thing. The factor that initially stopped the band coming back together was that the bands guitarist Graham Coxon did not want to return and vocalist Daman Albarn did not want to make music without him as, I quote 'Why don't I get another guitarist? Because there's none better than Coxon'. It would be great for Blur to reform and release another album, whether or not this will ever actually happen remains to be seen but I personally remain optimistic. The music of Blur has in my opinion always been excellent, seven excellent Blur albums are in existence and for that I am extremely grateful. All four members of Blur are extremely talented, the bands sound has always impressed me and never does the music fail to enthral.
Blur; perhaps the best band there ever has been.
"Popscene" is a song by British rock band Blur which represented a change in musical direction for both Blur and the nation. BritPop had arrived. At its release on the 30th March 1992, nobody acknowledged it either critically or commercially. It was a song which attacked the musical tastes of the fans it was trying to preach to, labeling them 'clones absent from a way of life'. Indeed the early 90s rave, grunge and shoe gaze did dominate the charts back. But quite simply, it wasn't British enough for Blur.
Its lackluster performance in the charts (32 UK) cemented Blur's eventual belief that Britain did not deserve 'Popscene'. Even though it was as catchy as 'Girls and Boys' and as anthemic as 'Song 2', the song never appeared on the corresponding 1992 album Modern Life is Rubbish, nor on any of the future compilations- including Blur: Best of.
Little did the country know that they'd be craving 'Popscene' equivalents from the likes of Pulp, Suede, Oasis and Blur come 1995. That year the band's first single release charted at Number 1. You have to ask yourself that if you bought Country House, why didn't you buy Popscene?
Aside from the context of the song, musically it was like a wasp had got caught in a blender. Imagine the sound and you have it. Graham Coxon's swamping guitar rifts begin before being disclaimed by masses of sliding bass and brass brought to us by the cheese making Alex James. Damon then begins on his rant ("A fervoured image of another world is nothing in particular now"), branding the nation loonies for settling on grunge and what not, before emphasizing his message with the metaphorical lyrics "Just repeat this again and again...and Again". Without time to sit down and read your NME, Damon then yelps out his ball of Britpop bombardment with the half second long chorus 'Hey Hey, come out tonight. Hey Hey, come out tonight...popscene...ALRIGHT?!' It's a monstrous call of irony. Coxon's solos then filter through the next milli second or two as Damon takes a breath, before rambling on again about his problems ("My lack of natural lustre now, seems to be losing me friends") and finishing with another rich serving of 'hey hey...Popscene!!'. Its two and a half minutes of densely packed madness.
Its failure as a song should not be looked upon today as a sign of its quality, more a sign of the music 'popscene' which surrounded it, namely rave and dance. Ironic the song later became, as by 1997 British music had become swamped by 'chrome covered clones' of bands like Blur and Oasis. They were swimming in a sea of awful music. Albarn and co set about to change the music industry by creating their own manifesto to add a little more diversity to the charts. What they didn't know, was that the rave goers of 1992 would soon pick up their guitars and copy acts like Oasis, leaving Britain in a situation identical to that of the age Blur was urging us to leave. Only the Spice Girls would eventually take us away from it...for better or for worse.
They have the critics. The ones that say they are a singles band and the album tracks don't live up to much or that some of the singles are not very good. But, I think that all the singles are good, the album tracks are better.
Blur have managed to survive the britpop label by constantly changing and evolving, yet still keeping a sound unique to them. You have Damon's lyrics and keyboards, Graham's guitar, Alex's basslines and Dave's drumming. This makes Blur what they are (ok so Graham has gone now sadly). The melodies are there and they make the songs. To me Popscene is one of the good songs but didn't make it onto an album. Movin' On, Trimm Trabb, Best Days and This Is A Low are among the best album tracks. These cover most of their albums, the weakest being their first Leisure. All Blur fans have their favourites.
The best to me however is seeing them live. One of the best performance I have seen was on television and showed their Glastonbury performance a few years ago - 1998 I think. They played a new song called Southpark as it was going to be on the Southpark album. This song changed for the album and its title was changed to Trailerpark. Yet the album version wasn't as good. Plus, you cannot beat the atmosphere of a crowd singing along to all your favourite songs.
The Best of Blur album has all the favourites single wise, but it is the album tracks which deserve a listening to. As for seeing them live, that is not possible at the moment. I suggest seeing an early video from 1994, called Showtime. This video shows Blur at their best, in Britpop era in front of lots of fans, with great audience interaction. It's filmed at Ally Pally (alexandria palace) in London.
Best albums -
Parklife/Modernlife is Rubbish for songs like Parklife
The Great Escape for a good album despite the annoying country house (yes Blur themselves think that) the beautiful The Universal and other good songs are on there
Blur for some good album tracks but a darker album
13 for some good album tracks but tinged with a broken heart
Think Tank for nice pretty songs without such a harsh edge, perhaps influenced by Damon's trip to Malawi
I've been a keen listener of Blur ever since I purchased the album 'Parklife' way back in 1994. It was one of those CDs that stayed in the CD player for a very long time, that and the fact I only had two or three other CDs at the time. I was inspired to buy this off the strength of the title track, 'Parklife', seeing as it seemed like a lot of fun and I loved the way it sounded, mainly due to a genius guest vocal spot by Phil Daniels. I was amazed to hear such a good mix of different sounding songs on one album, from the plastic-pop-like 'Girls & Boys' to the sadness of 'This Is A Low.' And all of the points inbetween. This was a trend that I was to find in the other albums, a variety I hadn't really gotten from a band before. I went on a quest (of sorts) to buy the other albums from their back catalogue, first up was Leisure, I figured if was going to be a proper fan, I'd start at the beggining. Leisure is their first album and is almost ahead of it's time, because it seemed to catch the ninties right off the bat. This album was released in 1991, and it sounds like it could quite easily have been released anytime in the 1990's. From 'There's No Other Way', probably the most well known track off the album to 'Bang' one of the more edgy tracks, this album was again, a great mix of sounds. Something that some bands tend to struggle with. By the time I got this album, Blur had just released their newest record at the time, 'The Great Escape.' 'The Great Escape' was seen by most of the people I knew to be an album that wasn't really serious enough, and wasn't well-liked in the circle of friends I had at the time. In retrospect I can see their point, but this is a fun album, more than anything else, this is just a good laugh. Tracks like 'TOPMAN' and 'Mr.Robison's Quango' go to proove this. But the really star of the show on this
album is 'The Universal'. This is among the most touching and heartfelt songs I have heard in many a year, it grows and grows on you and remains a modern classic. I defy any fan not to include this track in their Top Ten of blur tracks. It's pure genius. So after I got that album, I was back on my quest to get all of the Blur albums. The only other one I didn't have now was 'Modern Life Is Rubbish.' Out of all the albums, this is my least favourite, seeing as it doesn't have as many stand out tracks that really appeal to me. I realise all the songs are good on here, it's just there is something that doesn't quite gel for me. But having said that, a couple of tracks are OK. 'Villa Rosie' is probably my favourite off this album, quite upbeat and fun. But it isn't an album that I listen to or enjoy too much. The next album to get into my now growing collection is 'Blur', the self titled album. Now, this is a tricky one, for me, it has a lot of good tracks on it, but it was spoiled, for me at least, by the over-use of Song 2. For me, that track was fantastic, before it was used too much on many adverts and 'crazy' TV programs. But having not heard it for a long time, and now hearing again recently, it got it's magic back. The whole album has a strange quality to it, to me, it seemed slightly empty, a kind of coldness to it. I wouldn't say that this was my favourite Blur album, but it's better than 'Modern Life Is Rubbish.' The next album, and the last 'proper' one, other than the 'best of' one, is '13'. This was a departure for Blur, as far as I was concered, it came across as quite dark and sinister, alot of negative emotions were put into this, with them some demons I don't doubt. The odd tinge of madness comes in 'B.L.U.R.E.M.I' which is completely off the wall, very fast and very loud, something Blur do so well. And '
;Mudman' is also of a similar ilk, completely mad. This is, in relation to the rest of the album. I'd have to say, my time with Blur has been well spent, aqquiring the album, and being one of the most important groups to come out of the ninties. It's always a pleasure to listen to them.
Yes, Blur do it for me in a big way and if you are in any doubt you need to listen to their 10th Anniversary Box Set for the full delight of their wide and varied skills. A must-have for a Blur-a-holic like myself albeit an expensive must-have at that. It took me a good year before I had the spare cash to spend on this delightful box set and then only thanks to a generous birthday/Xmas cash gift. This tenth Anniversary Box Set is a delight – 22 CD singles charting Blur’s musical history contains 127, yes, 127 tracks in total – all in original picture covers with an accompanying glossy, colour picture booklet. I think originally the set was available in different packages but mine came housed in a sturdy, black canvas zip up bag sporting the blur logo. I paid £99.99 (gasp!) but I have heard that some places have sold it for around £80. Either way, considering the contents and potential collectability of the set I didn’t mind paying that as a fanatic. Apparently it is also a limited edition but how ‘limited’ I don’t know! (I’ve got number UK01222 if anyone’s interested!) Released in 1999, obviously to celebrate 10 years of fine Blur music, this obviously does not contain their most recent single, “Music is My Radar” but that is included on their “Best of” CD anyway. This review could be impossibly long if I attempt to review it all given the extensive content of this box set and my enthusiasm for the band so I will attempt to focus on the key ‘A’ sides of the singles instead. OK, so this takes us through their 22 singles over that period which are, in chronological order, “She’s so High”, “There’s no Other Way”, “Bang”, “Popscene”, “For Tomorrow”, “Chemical World”, “Sunday Sunday”, “Girls and Boys”, “To the End”,
“Parklife”, “End of a century”, “Country House”, “The Universal”, “Stereotypes”, “Charmless Man”, “Beetlebum”, “Song 2”, “On Your Own”, “M.O.R”, “Tender”, “Coffee and TV” and “No Distance left To Run”. As you can see there are plentiful chart hits, number ones and classic tracks in that list and that’s just the ‘A’ sides! As I said, I won’t go into the task of listing all of the remaining tracks that make up the full 127 (it would take toooooo long!) suffice to say these include alternative versions of some of the ‘A’ Sides, live versions and the usual hidden-away gems often found on B sides – hours and hours of listening pleasure a possibility. Just to highlight some of my favourites (an maybe best depending on personal tastes, obviously) “There’s no Other Way” is a catchy semi-dance Indie track with an infectious chorus and broken back-beat. “Sunday Sunday” is a glorious Kinks style romp through an average Sunday with stomp along music and jolly vocals. Best known are probably “Song 2” – a semi-metal number used on many TV adverts with the trademark “Wooohooo” chorus line, “Parklife” which was there main springboard to fame with Phil Daniels guesting on vocals and “Tender” in a one there ‘come-back’ song after a lean times with a wonderful acoustic, gospel flavour and touching vocals/lyrics. For me “The Universal” is one of their masterpieces – a slower track, with stirring musicianship and Damon Albarn showing his more serious, deeper vocal talents. “No Distance left to Run” is a mournful tug at the heartstrings over sparse musical backing with tired, emotional vocals. For the beginning I find “She̵
7;s so High” a rather directionless, unmemorable single and “Popscene” is also rather lame in comparison to the bands’ later work although still a good single. On the whole there’s very little that lets this collection down – even the cover artwork on the singles is colourful and imaginative and I heartily recommend saving up for this set if you are at all partial to Blur!
Blur are a group that I find difficult to associate with song unlike groups like Oasis. There greatest hits has just come out and its an album full of gems. Starting off with Beetlebum the album does not stop rocking. My favourite is the universal which has a very mellow strings background. When I hear certain songs I associate them with videos Blur have been very keen on presentation of their videos something that sticks in the memory. For example Coffe and TV where the son goes amiss and the family are at home worried, I know its sound sad but the milk carton goes looking for the boy and brings him back home. Beware there is a sad end as the carton gets drunk and bined - life I guess. This is followed by more favourites 'Parklife' 'Charming Man' and 'Girls and Boys' being three anthems that just belt out at you. The second CD is all live record at Wembley last year. An excellent album by an excellnt group.
There is one good reason why you should buy this album instead of the English version - it includes 'Popscene' which was a single that was not included on any of the albums, except this US issue of Modern Life Is Rubbish. Otherwise it is almost the same as the UK Issue but you have to get this one just to listen to 'Popscene' which is the best song blur have probably done. It is their most energetic song which is full of raw energy which is very different from the rest of the album and more American. The rest of the album is all good as well and shows starts of whst made the next album, Parklife, so great. The other best songs are the wonderful 'For Tomorrow', and the fun 'Sunday Sunday'.
Blur are one of the bands of the 90s. They will, I am certain, be remembered for a long time to come. And unlike their Britpop (remember the days?) arch-rivals Oasis, who just churn out the same old formula, their continuing commitment to innovation and new direction has ensured that they get the respect and support they deserve. All of their albums have a different feel, the most recent 13 demonstrating this the most obviously. Blur are talented musicians, with a skill for songwriting and an eye for the unusual – all strength to them.
I LOVE BLUR! Ever since the release of She's So High/I Know, along with its stunning (for a 1991 debut single) video and charming melody. Actually, this is a lie. Like many other Blur fans, I had no idea they existed until Parklife (my only excuse - I was too young). Even this groundbreaking album that introduced Britpop to the world was not enough to convince me of this band's great undeniable talent until I got The Great Escape (for my 12th birthday!). The brilliant catchy tunes (some pop, some not), amazingly intelligent and sometimes disturbing lyrics and even some real emotion make this album as good as Parklife. Please read my opinion on this album separately to see my opinion on the current practice of slagging it off! Blur are amazing. My fave album has to be Modern Life is Rubbish (see separate comments again please!) which has simply great tunes, with a pervading sense of a joy in being english. As I've grown up, so has the band, with gorgeous new darker directions (but they haven't forgotten the sublime punk/pop/rock of singles like Popscene). The albums just get better the more you listen to them, and the lyrics are so clever and the tunes so surprising that you can't ever get bored of them. Every album heralds a major change in direction! The best-of album is out right now. I guarantee that (unless you only creep out from under that rock to read dooyoo), you will know at least one song on it! If you like that song, buy the best of. If you like the best of, buy the albums. If you like the albums, join me in my obsessive Blur adulation! I can tell you that Blur fans are some of the nicest people I have ever met!
Blur are a fantastic band (from Essex, as it happens). One of my favourite. Firstly I will outline their current history, briefly (!): Leisure was releaased in 1991. Had songs such as 'She's So High'. These were catchy, rocky tunes and were part of the big 'Brit-pop' takeover. Then in 1993 came 'Modern Life is Rubbish'. This was simmilar to Leisure but it ws more mature. Blur became more of an 'established' band. 1994, however was Blur's break with 'Parklife'. This is a classic album. Still catchy and rocky but more intellegent, experienced and better sounding. 'Girls & Boys' (a song I'm sure those who don't think they've hard have), 'Parklife' ('All the people, so many people!'). Then was 'The Geat Escape' (1995). Unfortunately this was slight subject to the now bitter BATTLE OF THE BANDS (BLUR vs OASIS). It was slightly commercial. The lyrics in some of those songs were shocking! But still, it was good with the same basis as Parklife. It includes Country House. Then came the shocking change: with the 'fall' of Brit-pop, and the evolved indie, Blur were being quiet. Suddenly in 1997, a new album was released: Blur. This was completely different from any other Blur album heard. What had happened was that Dameon Albarn and Graham Coxon (lead vocal/piano and lead guitar and the main force behind the band)had felt they wanted to write lots of music that reflected how they felt. It was really their music. Not easy-going chart music. Blur has Song 2 (Wahoo! When I feel 'eavy metal!), Beetlbum and Look Inside America. All of it is very dark (except for three, and two of those are still, a bit dark...). It was experimental. It was great! Later came '13' in 1999. This is also a great album. Still it is dark (except of the exceptional Coffe and TV and others, including Blur's Tender!!!). Graham Coxon since the change of Blur has released two so
lo albums. Also dark. I regret I have heard none of his songs. Blur were not the only Brit-pop band to disepear at the decline of the era and suddenly return, alot more soulful and melchanolic. Travis are a prime example. I am pleased to hear that Blur are working on a seventh album. OK. Lets look at what makes this band so utterly exceptional: The instruments. Dameon is a great singer. He has a fantastic voice and sings with expression. Graham Coxon is also a superb guitarist. He was always great, but I have to say, his playing is best in Blur and 13. Especially in Coffee and TV. Divine guitar (eletric and acoustic). He can also sing well and sings in 'Your'e So Great' in Blur and ofcourse in his solo songs. David Rowntree is the percusionist and does this unblandly. Alex James' dreamy Far Out is actually a surprisingly good song. He does the base guitar. Dameon also does all the pianos and everthing. I think one of the best things about Blur is the Veriety and wealth of good songs. A Best of Blur would have lots of songs from all over their albums. Not only is there the new, rather dark Blur, the earlier catchy Brit-pop Blur, within those two catogries you have lots of differents songs. Slow anthems, catchy diddies, mellow rock, hard-rock (some of it is nearly punk!), energetic songs... I could go on for ever praising Blur and why there so good. But, I can't really make this review that long (it already is). st take it from me. Blur are one HELL OF A BAND!!!
A couple of years ago it just wasn't cool to like Blur. But as the years and the albums have rolled by, the band have matured, devleoped and now hold a position of respect in the hearts and minds of admirers. When Leisure first came out, their single 'There's No Other Way' help reveal a band who had all the sweet pop nouce of any teeny band but with it a cool edge. But they were accused of riding the baggy wave and relegated to wannabe's and maybe's. By the time their next album came out they were a novelty act, more reknown for their boozing than great tunes. It was during this time, however, that they showed their first mark of what was to come in the form of 'Pop Scene'; a belter of a tune revealing their fondness for pop tinged punk. 'Modern Life..' was rubbish. The 'Great Escape' even worse! But inbetween they more or less created Britpop with their incredibly successfull and brilliant Parklife album. They almost singlehandedly made Parker coats and Fred Perry popular again, and gave those Manc Beatles wannabe's, Oasis, a good run for their money. But it wasn't until 'Blur' and then '13' that they truly came into form. They shrugged off obsession with pop and concentrated on writing great guitar tunes. Who can deny the simple genius of 'Song 2', the lulling beauty of 'Tender' or the Lofi magic of Coffee and TV? Should Blur continue on this path, they'll surely became known as one fo the great bands of our time. Let's hope so.