Blur - Blur

Community images

Blur - Blur

Brit Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Parlophone, Food - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 02/06/2008, 10/02/1997 - 49880...

> Show product information

85% positive

20 reviews from the community

Review of "Blur - Blur"

published 24/10/2002 | dave27
Member since : 24/09/2000
Reviews : 988
Members who trust : 154
About me :
Super
Pro Great sound
Cons Some duff tracks
very helpful
Originality
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Lyrics
How does it compare to the artist's other releases

"New beginnings and a change of pace"

Blur's early years had seen them build a satisfyingly eager cult following as they emerged fitfully in the indie arena, with their work championed by the guardians of the left of field. However, such small vistas had been widened gloriously by the pop achievement of their massive 1994 album, Parklife, spearheaded by the similarly titled hit single, featuring the band's chum Phil Daniels with his threatening spoken rather than sung lead voice. The album was even stronger than the single hinted and was a surprisingly large attraction, catapulting the band into the very forefront of media attention, and headlong into a newspaper-fuelled battle for supremacy with the somehow dirtier Oasis from Manchester.

Both bands were due to release singles and albums within days of each other in the late summer of 1995 and the NME in particular ran nagging articles pitching Damon and Liam into direct competition with a winner takes all mentality. Feelings had been strained between the two for some time, although they had formerly been friends, and Oasis played up to the story, but Damon was less enthusiastic. He did, however, have harsh things to say about Oasis' Status Quo rip off, Roll With It, and took the rise out of it.

His refusal to go for the throat may, however, have had something to do with apprehension about Blur's follow up to Parklife, The Great Escape, for the album was messy and unfocused, with the nursery rhyme Country House single a big No 1 single, but depressingly shallow. Morning Glory by Oasis thrashed the pants off Blur's effort and ended once and for all any talk of serious rivalry. Oasis were big time rock giants, while Blur were cartoon escapism with a happy go lucky leer and a readiness for a larf.

The Great Escape damaged Blur significantly and prompted the band to cast a jaundiced eye over themselves. For a couple of years, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Dave Rowntree and Alex James withdrew from view to consider their options. The option that they eventually re-emerged with was a million miles away from Country House's jokey chuckles. They immersed themselves in the harsher tones and style of American indie rock with Pavement apparently being their greatest influence at the time.

Bland Brit Pop was consigned to a back room while the band re-invented themselves as a genuine grown up adult rock band with effects pedals, feedback and urgent, passionate vocals the new order of the day. They were completely different to the orthodox rock and roll of Oasis, but had fashioned an individual sound and style which seemed much more substantial and enduring than their previous efforts.

Parklife may well have remained their ultimate album achievement, but undoubtedly the new Blur were a terrifying and powerful force, with a studio perfected dark sound which hinted at credibility and danger.

Blur were suddenly major rock contenders once more. There was a reborn confidence and urgency in the videos for the singles lifted from the new album, Beetlebum and Song 2, and the sound was stripped down, naked fury, hinting at a startling masterpiece in the wings.

As it was, the eponymously entitled Blur was never quite as good or as consistent as we had hoped after hearing those ferocious singles, but then they would have struggled to keep up that standard throughout. Blur the album may have been a case of still unfulfilled potential, but certainly it ushered in a more satisfying era and a clutch of new gems to add to the band's collection. Give me the zip and zing of the stuff on here over a million retreads of Country House and Charmless Man any day of the week.

The Great Escape was forgotten forever and a new Brit American band was born...


*************************************

Beetlebum

*************************************

This was certainly a very distinctive sound to open their new album, and Blur had seemingly decided to re-engineer the whole approach with that nagging, insistent, blocked rhythm guitar riff just so captivating, with Damon delivering one of his more captivating vocals over the top of it, urging you into his unusual world. It's never quite clear exactly what Mr Albarn is on about, but that in a sense is pretty irrelevant, with the mood and the atmosphere being all that really mattered. Whatever the band's intention certainly their new approach was a great way of putting behind them the uneven work of The Great Escape. The mood built nicely as the track progressed before a sharp/messy ending. Altogether a wonderfully dark piece of rock genius which just could not be ignored. Something odd was clearly stirring in the wood shed at the bottom of the garden. I adore Beetlebum, its classy tricks, swinging melody and nick nick whirr from Coxon's guitar.

*************************************

Song 2

*************************************

Beetlebum was merely the appetiser for the enigmatically entitled Song 2 with its manic WOO-HOO cry and that same nagging, blocked rhythm which made Beetlebum such a treasure. However, the second track exploited the style much more artfully and adroitly. The blatant Brit Pop commerciality of previous releases was chucked mercilessly on the back burner of Blur's intent and their forced former Mockney cheeriness had been traded in for an avowedly American experimental rock approach. It was undoubtedly a gripping change of direction which demanded that you sit up and take notice even down to the bizarre video shot in a wind tunnel. Things alternate between restrained musings on the verses and big brassy episodes of that wonderfully spirited chorus.

*************************************

Country Sad Ballad Man

*************************************

Things now tend to the quiter and more introspective with Coxon strumming and doodling on while Damon's falsetto pitch wanders all over the place. This is really weird stuff and Blur seem a lot more prepared than on previous outings to allow time and space to counterpoint the music and vocals. Things never actually shape up to go anywhere in particular but nonetheless I like its easy charm.

*************************************

MOR

*************************************

This is more insistent and throbbing, awash with group vocals calling and responding to Damon's lead. It grinds and grips and exerts a reasonable influence on your emotions and keeps up the pressure right through to the end, soaring

*************************************

On Your Own

*************************************

Twiddle twiddle bleep goes the oddity of the opening burst and the fixation with experimentation remained intact while Damon opted to recall vocal styles from earlier albums. There was no serious harm done however as the track fizzed and popped with brittle quality, tapping into another rich vein for us to enjoy. The throb and whirr of this Blur wall of sound was strangely engaging in a twitchily bizarre kind of way. This one sounds like the band have discovered short wave radio in the US and just had to find a way of working it into things.

*************************************

Theme From Retro

*************************************

More far out weirdness opens this track with echo laden vocal grunts and cries being Damon’s idea of credibility. It may not be credible, but it’s certainly different as Blur doodle and twirl around for three odd minutes exploring a sort of space age merry go round theme.

*************************************

You're So Great

*************************************

This is more in line with Blur's previous fondness for the Kinks and the Move and Ray Davies and Roy Wood would have revelled as Curly travels to enjoy a Waterloo Sunset. It's relatively insubstantial fare as we get the happy yet limited acoustic strumming carrying the whole thing while Damon goes waling down a sunny country lane. It's neither great nor appalling, just pleasant enough pop to tide you over while we wait for better things around the corner.

*************************************

Death Of A Party

*************************************

Clang clang chunk go the guitars, whirr whirr ooh go the keyboards and Damon offers his best disembodied vocal a la Bowie as sinister doings are clearly afoot. It's an adorable piece of death disco with chilling keyboard lines setting the ghostly theme. The whole thing smacks of Kraftwerk as they could be if they had a decent singer. The insistent and stately march of this song is one of the better pieces present on the whole collection.

*************************************

Chinese Bombs

*************************************

Punk pop ramalama guitar and straightahead drums and bass are a staple feature of the Blur experience and they seem to genuinely feel comfortable with the spiky rock noises. This is simplistic in its thrash and undiverting direction. Decent enough diversion.

*************************************

I'm Just A Killer For Your Love

*************************************

Sinister guitar and skimming hi hat set a decent mood before Damon's treated vocals explore the emotionless void of the song. The odd lack of expression and feeling recalls the approach of the album's opening salvo although this time the pace is dropped down to emphasis the mood and emptiness of the piece. Oddly effective and thoroughly bizarre, like an early preparation for Damon's Gorillaz project.

*************************************

Look Inside America

*************************************

This feels uncomfortably like a much slowed down retake of Country House, although thankfully they never fall completely into that trap. Instead they opt for big Sixties ballad pop a la Roy Wood with swooning strings lurking around in the background. There's not a great deal to say about this song although it does have a nice feel. Take it or leave it, to be honest.

*************************************

Strange News From Another Star

*************************************

Distorted and echo laden guitar tremors in before Coxon's acoustic muse sets the scene for a contemplative, moody vocal from Damon picks up a strange mood, quintessentially Bowie from the Space Oddity period. This would have not been out of keeping with Bowie's electric folk rock from 1969. It's self consciously sparse with all sorts of doodles and Clanger appreciation tunes, but does enough without ever really taking off, a bit like the whole damned album in fact. There's even a bizarre sub Ziggy Starman section to keep you watching, although there's nothing to make you want to bend your knees or even take your hands out of your pockets.

*************************************

Movin' On

*************************************

This is better, a chipper Brit Pop number which wouldn't have been out of place on Parklife. It never touches greatness, but sports a nice, quirky, detuned guitar lick which never lets up and Damon winds his way expertly in and out of Coxon's lines. Unfortunately, Movin' On just seems out of place and out of time when set against much of the other stuff here with its chirpy and spiky pop punk leanings and breathlessness, with Damon as man of the people modern day ranter.

*************************************

Essex Dogs

*************************************

Springy electronica burns and blips the opening moments and drags on a little too much, because Damon and Co are opting for a big eight minute finish and reason that they have plenty of time to set the scene before they're expected to deliver too much. Damon's muted vocals over this bit are self importantly weird and deep while the special effects peak and trough carelessly around him. You get stunted birds, mumblings about panic attacks (from which he apparently suffers intermittently) and microwaves but little of any great substance or conviction. Blur are not and never will be Cabaret Voltaire but clearly believe that their renaissance allows them to try out such cheap electronic experimentation and get away with it. Well, unfortunately they do not really have the grasp or the feel for this kind of stuff and just come on like big kids playing with their new toys. Even when Coxon injects a bit of life with his picky overdriven guitar we're left waiting for something of any real interest to tickle our fancy. Instead you get more of the muttering and effects, including a lengthy pause after six and a half minutes before a more reassured and easier to grasp piece checks in to stir speculation, but interest quickly dulls as things singularly fail to go anywhere.

And that's symptomatic of this hugely disappointing rebirth. Blur promised much and set the scene nicely but end up just looking like they're trying on new clothes which don't really fit their gawky skeletons.


Community evaluation

This review was read 1382 times and was rated at
100% :
> How to understand evaluation of this review
very helpful

Comments on this review

  • kylecoare published 14/07/2003
    This is the only blur record that i actually listen to and is damn good! Kyle
  • Calypte published 02/11/2002
    I was SO disappointed by this album. I love the first two songs, and one or two of the rest is quite good, but the others do nothing for me - or worse, make my head hurt! ;)
  • OKkaraoke published 30/10/2002
    Wow. What a great review. I remember you from epinions. Glad I found you here, as well. -Becky
  • Did you find this review interesting? Do you have any questions? Sign into your Ciao account to leave the author a comment. Log in

offers "Blur - Blur"

Most popular similar products

Product Information : Blur - Blur

Manufacturer's product description

Brit Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Parlophone, Food - Distributor: EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics - Released: 02/06/2008, 10/02/1997 - 4988006800533, 724385556227

Product Details

EAN: 4988006800533, 724385556227

Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 17/05/2008