Blur
Albums

  • Leisure
  • Modern Life Is Rubbish
  • Park Life
  • The Great Escape
  • Blur
  • 13
  • Think Tank








  • adriandenning.co.uk
    album reviews

    Blur

    Leisure( 1991, UK pos 7 )
    She's So High / Bang / Slow Down / Repetition / Bad Day / Sing / There's No Other Way / Fool / Come Together / High Cool / Birthday / Wear Me Down

    The 'baggy' scene with bands such as Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Charlartans and Happy Mondays was on its way out come 1991. It was slipping. Shoegazing was a scene threatening to enter in place of 'Baggy', although if truth be known, the shoe-gazing scene was so brief, even the death throes of Baggy outlasted all but one of two of the shoe-gazing bands. Blur were fairly interesting back in 1990, 1991 - being one of the few bands that could legitimately claim to sound both baggy and shoe-gazing. Not at the same time, but you know - alternate songs. A now defunct UK based music magazine titled 'Select' magazine gave this Blur debut album five out of five at the time of its release. They look pretty foolish now. Well, they don't - they look pretty out of business now, but never mind that! For the UK music press in general, for each and every new band that came along, it was all 'will they be another Stone Roses, another Happy Mondays?' - usually after two singles the answer for said new band was an emphatic 'no'. But as I said, Blur were pretty interesting back then. Their first single 'She's So High' cracked the top fifty singles charts, their second, 'There's No Other Way' went top ten. This was a pretty dramatic rise to the top! 'There's No Other Way' tied itself firmly to the 'baggy' mast with a vaguely Stone Roses/Fools Gold kind of feel to the songs rhythm track. The first single 'She's So High' was very staring at shoes, singing flatly - no tune - but the guitars created a dreamy kind of sound. I like both of these early two Blur singles, if truth be known. Just to prove how fickle the music business really can be, third Blur single 'Bang' was proclaimed a disappointment by everyone, including the band themselves, oddly. Again, I quite like this. The lyrics are pretty average, but the guitar sound is nice and the same kind of indie/dance crossover rhythm section performance is employed as 'There's No Other Way'.

    Two types of song, the poppy funky indie/dance crossover of 'Baggy' and the cascading, layered guitars amid 'blank' sounding vocals and lyrics of a 'Shoegazing'. In the latter camp we have 'Slow Down' and 'Repetition' and neither song is particularly entertaining at all. In the former camp we receive a little 'Bad Day', and this is good! Another happy little pop-song, although the production is rather flat. That's a problem with the album as a whole, actually. The sound is rather flat and murky. Still, let's move on. The six minute long track titled 'Sing' proves, if nothing else, that Blur had ambition. You may well be sat there thinking to yourself, "What's ambitious about creating a six minute long drone with no tune?" - but you'd be thinking wrong, oh yes! 'Sing' is a brave piece, the guitars sound thick and watery over the top of each other, layer upon layer, floating. Yeah, 'Sing' is a shoe-gazing kind of thing, you guessed it! It's also experimental to an extent, certainly in terms of structure. 'Sing' has something, it certainly does. Oh, the second side of 'Leisure' rather disappoints. 'Come Together' sounds like an indie-rock Monkees, but not as good. Several very undistinguished songs follow until we reach the end, thankfully. The last song, 'Wear Me Down', is rather cool though. The chorus is strong and full of melody, the verses go for the layered droning guitar effect, but Blur were hardly the finished article yet. You know, we can forgive a band a debut album like 'Leisure'. Well, provided said band get better, of course.

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    Els De Clercq elsdeclercq25@hotmail.com
    the 'flatness' you describe in your review, is something that I actually quite liked about it. I don't know what it is, but for me this whole record oozes out some eerieness, some dreaminess and a longing to hear more from this band, and somehow I knew that there was more to come, more and yeah, probably better. But it's really something I can't explain intelligently, call it the un-knowable, the inexplicable x, 'it', whatever you want, I just knew: this was 'it' for me. More than anything else, it's little personal stories that I associate with listening to Blur, and which will always make me remember them fondly, and with (probably) a sort of (misguided) melancholy that no other band can make me feel. For instance, Leisure will forever be associated with me listening to the tape of this album, on my walkman when I was reading in bed at night, tucked away under the covers -- secretly - because that was still a time when I had to go to bed at 9 PM, because my parents said I always needed to be well rested when I had to go to school in the morning, and who was I to question my parents, right??

    Dan dperris@laingorourke.com
    I recently bug this album out of a dustly CD rack in my lounge and stuck it on my ipod. I think it has actually aged quite well - better in fact that some of the early Suede records - I know its nothing special, in fact I reckon a lot of why I like it is the funny memories of the 6th form parties I was going to at the time in 91' - but I'd give it a 7... maybe an 8!


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    Modern Life Is Rubbish 8 ( 1993, UK pos 15 )
    For Tomorrow / Advert / Colin Zeal / Pressure On Julian / Star Shaped / Blue Jeans / Chemical World / Intermission / Sunday Sunday / Oily Water / Miss America / Villa Rosie / Coping / Turn It Up / Resigned / Commercial Break

    Blur survive a flop fourth single ( 'Popscene', although actually it was a rather spiffing tune ) to find their second album NEARLY produced by Andy Partridge of XTC, only apparently, nobody liked his early mixes of several of the songs they worked on together. So, in comes former Smiths/Morrissey producer Stephen Street. In comes a bit of professional guidance, and lord knows they needed it after such an average debut offering. 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' has glorious artwork and packaging, for a start. Second, Blur were getting pretty fed up of the Grunge invasion of England, and wanted to offer listeners in England something that was actually inspired by English bands, rather than American ones. Thusly, Blur set to work on sounding like The Kinks, for one. Well, The Kinks were the overriding influence on Blur through their Britpop years. But wait! The whole thing with Britpop was bands proud to be British, and creating music that sounded British. Only... Britpop, the term, hadn't yet been coined come the time of the release of 'Modern Life Is Rubbish'. Subsequent events has lent 'Modern Life In Rubbish' a pioneering air, it very nearly invented the Britpop scene. Well, The Stone Roses and Suede were the other new bands pushing the scene. The Stone Roses were as good as defunct come 1993, but their classic debut was still casting a mighty long shadow over the bands that followed in their wake.

    I'll talk about the singles first, as that seems a very Blur thing to do, and I don't mean them any disparagement in saying that. Blur through the years have been a pretty great singles act. 'For Tomorrow' had the music critics, especially those at Select Magazine worried that Blur were just going to fade completely, breathing a huge sigh of relief and reaching for their dictionaries to find enough praise for this Blur band - who were seemingly coming back from the dead. 'For Tomorrow' has great sound and production, and the entry of Stephen Street into Blur world cannot be stressed enough. He made a huge, massive difference. 'For Tomorrow' doesn't do so much through the verses, but the chorus is very catchy and sticks in your brain long after the song has finished playing. To combat grunge, Damon gets going with story-telling lyrics depicting eccentric English characters drawn from both his own imagination and from personal experiences. 'For Tomorrow' is good, but much better is 'Chemical World'. Right here we get Blur in full effect and the song that made this very writer a fan of them. The guitars are fantastic sounding and melodic, the lyrics are funny and the harmonies, oh, these Kinks inspired harmonies! These Glam/Suede inspired sounding guitars! Oh, yeah, back to those Suede boys. Well, first guitarist Bernard Butler, at least. Bernard Butler and Suede had only released a couple singles at the time, but the music press were falling over themselves to hail Bernard a new guitar hero. And yeah, he had a special sound. Thing is, Graham Coxon, the Blur guitarist, ably matches that sound with 'Chemical World'. Only Blur had something Suede didn't. A great lyricist. Blur also had the talented Coxon ( along with bass guy Alex James ) providing vocal harmonies, also something Suede never had. Let's just say it right now. 'Chemical World' is better than pretty much the entire career of Suede, and I say that as a big fan of early Suede!

    Was there a third single? I think 'Sunday Sunday' was released as the third single here in the UK. Can't quite remember now. 'Sunday Sunday' keeps the guitars and lyrics but sounds more Madness than any Kinks or glam guitars of a 'Chemical World'. Madness were of course another influence on the Blur of this era, Madness being a particularly English sounding band. Apart from these singles, there's a good other few songs that could have been singles. 'Colin Zeal' for one, which I prefer to 'For Tomorrow'. 'Pressure On Julian', a song reputedly about singer Julian Cope. 'Star Shaped', an absolutely fabulous English sounding pop-song with very literate and clever/funny lyrics. Pretty good this album, yeah? Well, yeah, but reservations again. It's not so much that the second side of 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' doesn't match the first, so much as 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' being a little too long for its own good. You get a little tired come the end of the album, quite frankly. It's not all pop-songs, by the way. We've got the gorgeous 'Blue Jeans' on side one of the LP and the equally as gorgeous 'Resigned' towards the albums close. There's a spine-tingling guitar sound all through 'Resigned', a mellow organ/keyboard sound matches it, very lovely soft vocals come in. The guitar sound is the thing. 'Resigned' could have been an instrumental and it would still have stuck gold, such is the sound of the backing track. Inbetween these songs we've got a highlight with the guitar led poppy 'Coping' and a couple more decent songs with 'Miss America' and 'Oily Water'. Decent songs, a decent album that had it been trimmed a little, might have been a great album.

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    Mikey.P bunglewafc@hotmail.com
    Ive been into Blur from the start, saw a few of there early gigs and was totally blown away back then. Then came the disapointment of the debut, leisure. But this follow up summed up their live shows. It was then and still is one of my favourite albums, and takes over from where the kinks left off. I know it's a crappy and unoriginal comparison but its true!

    micky micky23@hotmail.co.uk
    When i first herd this cd i didnt like it at all so i never played it again, until about a year later then it grow on me over time. Its probley blur's finest work, there is some nice easy going tunes & it works for me.


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    Park Life 9 ( 1994, UK pos 1 )
    Girls & Boys / Tracy Jacks / End Of A Century / Parklife / Bank Holiday / Badhead / The Debt Collector / Far Out / To The End / London Loves / Trouble In The Message Centre / Clover Over Dover / Magic America / Jubilee / This Is A Low / Lot 105

    Ah, you see, we knew they could do it all along..... a-hem. No, but seriously, when Blur came along with the first 'Parklife' single 'Girls & Boys' - they really broke through, right out of any 'indie-ghetto' people had them seemingly permanently stuck in. 'Girls & Boys' was a genuine pop hit that sold to many different types of music fan. This was pre-oasis, so again, Blur were leading the way as far as Britpop was concerned in terms of breaking down doors to allow other bands to follow through. So, what about that 'Girls & Boys' then? Well, it's so catchy it actually hurts to listen to it very often these days. It's been overplayed, but being an un-biased critic ( oh, but of course! ) I can still remember really enjoying it anyway - so let's just say it's a good pop song, and be done. The title song, the second single, fares better. It still sounds funny, the tune is still diamond and gold and all sorts of special things. But, we're only just getting started here. Two big hits to their name, what do Blur do next? Why, only release one of the greatest songs of the decade, that's what! Ok, so I am biased, but then, so is everybody else. On such a solid album, you'll find different fans with different favourites and that's okay, you know? 'To The End' is the one for me, though. Stereolab fans take note, Laetitia Sadier does the 'chanteuse' backing vocals, all those nice sexy words over which ( the considerably less sexy ) Damon sings. I just love 'To The End'. Damon sings very sweetly, the strings sound fake actually - but this just infuses 'To The End' with a miserable late night at the seaside kind of feel. Something special happens, "collapsed in love" indeed, you fall for someone and fall into their arms - and you're dancing around as the stars shine brightly through the night sky. Oh, another thing. The flow of this album, the sequencing, is very good indeed. Before the beautiful 'To The End' for example, bass player Alex James writes and sings a very nonsense Syd Barrett influenced song, a short song - but it's perfect to lead into 'To The End', really it is.

    Other songs? 'Park Life' has plenty of highlights all over. I won't mention them all, let's just talk about a few. Side One has 'End Of A Century' and 'Badhead', both gorgeous songs. 'End Of A Century' is, dare I say it, classic song-writing actually on a par with a Ray Davies. That was the thing with Britpop when it was its peak - and right before the daily newspapers, daytime TV and other sundry entertainment media got their grubby little mits upon it. This was music 'as good as' the bands of The Sixites. Of course, it didn't last, and nobody made a 'Pet Sounds' or a 'Revolver', but Britpop whilst it was fun was a truly wonderful thing. Side Two highlights include the wonderful 'Clover Over Dover', much better than its rather daft title would suggest, actually. I really like the guitar playing of Graham Coxon at times. He's highlighted well all through 'Clover Over Dover', not in terms of rock guitar playing, rather rock/pop playing, superbly melodic with a great sound and tone. 'This Is A Low' appears right towards the end of the album and Blur create a swoonsome song to be sung at the end of gigs just prior to an enthusiastic encore. Everyone get your lighters out, it's 'This Is A Low'! Yeah, that kind of song. As far as 'Parklife' is concerned as a whole, there's little faulting it, especially lyrically. It isn't particularly an ambitious or inventive album, which could count against it if you want to be mean. 'Parklife' is just a great example of proper pop song-writing. Back to the time when the best bands were also the most popular ones. That kind of thing doesn't happen very often.

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    Els De Clercq elsdeclercq25@hotmail.com
    Parklife was a real revelation to me since it once and for all proved that pop music could sound different than the crap I heard on all those commercial radio stations that flooded the airways, and of which I unconsiously knew that it wasn't the real deal, and that the kind of pop music Blur was bringing could actually be "cool" ("Parklife", or "Boys and Girls" to name the obvious ones), but was also allowed to be emotional ("To the End", "This is a Low") without being absolutely corny!


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    The Great Escape( 1995, UK pos 1 )
    Stereotypes / Country House / Best Days / Charmless Man / Fade Away / Top Man / The Universal / Mrs Robinsons Quango / He Thought Of Cars / It Could Be You / Ernold Same / Globe Alone / Dan Abnormal / Entertain Me / Yuko And Hiro

    Blur beat Oasis in the singles charts, 'Country House' pipping 'Roll With It' to the number one spot when both songs were released on the same day, sometime circa Autumn 1995. Oasis beat Blur come the release of 'The Great Escape', however. 'The Great Escape' has its moments, a few genuinely good Blur songs and some more good Blur songs ruined by the shiny, over-glossy production - and a long sentence - and some more Blur songs that simply aren't very good. Well, let's take the singles first, as i'm won't to do so far with this page. 'Stereotypes' is strained and straining but contains cool bursts of guitar here and there. 'Country House' is Blur with the whole 'English' thing blown up, times the nth degree, until it becomes utterly sickly. 'Charmless Man', if it's some kind of dig at Morrissey, sucks! If it's not, whatever - it's okay - the tune is good and the chorus is catchy, but at least half of 'Park Life' beats this into the ground. The one genuinely GOOD single from 'The Great Escape' arrives with 'The Universal', and even this isn't half as good as 'To The End'. It's a similar kind of thing, a tear drenched romantic ballad. Very well done actually, although the super shiny over-production doesn't help matters. You know, some of my favourite moments on 'The Great Escape' are actually the far less obvious ones. 'Ernold Sane' features a few vocal parts by the current Major of London, Ken Livingston, no less! Yes, the same man who has ensured that no traffic moves at all, anywhere, in the streets of London. Anyway, once he's finished 'singing', Damon comes in with the little music-hall thing, although a music-hall sadness thing. I dunno what i'm saying. The music is quirky, the harmonies are funny. The Damon vocal section is akin to Norman Wisdom or something. Ah, 'Globe Alone' is punk and thrash whilst still retaining melody and Blur happy sounds.

    The best song here? Well, it's 'He Thought Of Cars' by a country-mile. By a country-house, indeed! Okay, so i'll stop the shit jokes and lame attempts at half-humour. Back to 'He Thought Of Cars', Graham has interesting dirtier sounding guitar parts that hinted at the next Blur album, although of course, we didn't know that at the time. The lyrics are intriguing and fascinating and this song is pretty dreamy. The ballad 'Best Days' that appears on side one is a good song, a good piece of writing. 'Dan Abnormal' has some decent 'la, la, la' vocal parts and some good guitar parts. Ah, that's about it. 'The Great Escape' as well as being quite so OBVIOUS in terms of exaggerating everything that people knew about Blur, as well as having such SHINY GLOSSY production, also is too long and inconsistent a project to withstand many listens. It sold well, but absolutely nobody thought this was the best thing they'd ever done. Not that i'm aware of, anyway. <

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    Jonathan Roseveare jrr1@ukc.ac.uk
    Funnily enough I think this is as good as Parklife-it's a different album though obviously a natural successor. Though there's fun to be had (Country House, Charmless Man) there's also many reflective songs that feel as though a hangover's starting to be felt. Even the fun songs though are great-Country House deserved to beat Roll With It-it was the better song. Just take them as pure pop pleasure and they come over well. Otherwise it's easy to pick them apart. Maybe there's a better selection of songs on Parklife yet I still feel this is as conhesive and consistent an album.br>
    aaron glen@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    you was not write in my book on this one its a cool album and i brought this before 'parklife' and its real fine god 'best days' drags but its one of the best blur songs and 'streotypes'is real cool has a wonderful chrous and 'charmless man' is cool the intro rules but if it is a pop 'moz' ill hunt them all down i dont think it was thou anyway id give it an 8 1/2

    Els De Clercq elsdeclercq25@hotmail.com
    Right before the release of The Great Escape (I was in 4th year of secondary school then), our year went on an 'educational' trip to London for a couple of days, and London was literally full of posters on billboards, music stores etc etc etc of notices that said "Out Now: Oasis's New Hit Single" and others that said "Out Now: Blur's New Hit Single".. This was also something completely new to me. I mean, I knew about all the rivalry between Blur and Oasis and what have you, but I just thought that 1. it was so old already, and would you please get over it, and move forward, 2. completely exaggerated, and 3. totally irrelevant, since they make completely different music, which is why a juxtaposition of these 2 bands was so uncalled for (just for the record: I do own a copy of What's the Story (Morning Glory), but can I just say "Go Blur!!")! Anyway, I saw that music in the UK, and the music bizz that is associated with it, was actually completely different from how things are done 'on the continent', and that the whole class-thing that was associated with it, wasn't so exaggerated as I thought it was. br>
    Gerard Nowak gero@gower.pl
    Already on "Parklife" the production was too glossy for me, so in that sense this album isn't worse. The problem seems to be the songwriting: the melodies begin to be repetitive (compare "Charmless Man" and "Top Man") and uninventive. The exceptions are indeed "He Thought of Cars" and "Dan Abnormal". I also like the closing number. One more thing: Coxon's parts are very poor by his standard, and the guy actually admitted that. Only a decent album.


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    Blur( 1997, UK pos 1 )
    Beetlebum / Song 2 / Country Sad Ballad Man / M.O.R / On Your Own / Theme From Retro / You're So Great / Death Of A Party / Chinese Bombs / I'm Just A Killer For Your Love / Look Inside America / Strange News From Another Star / Movin' On / Essex Dogs

    Well, now here's a fine thing. The music papers were full of news that Blur had gone American, and indeed, within a few months the dirty dumb punk thrash of 'Song 2' had appealed to US audiences previously reluctant to embrace Blur, ensuring that its parent album, self-titled, became the biggest selling Blur album in the US to-date. I've got my own theory of course. Blur needed to change, had to change - because they'd done that 'three album' thing. Look at the career of U2. Praised for changing and evolving, always seemingly at exactly the right times - but they always did so after observing the three album rule. Basically, after you've done three albums in the same style, change is necessary. It doesn't matter who you are - Blur, U2, Madonna, Right Said Fred..... change is required to keep things interesting! Oh, but of course, any change in sound must be carefully considered, not alienate your existing fan-base too much, and hopefully, attract a new fan-base at the same time. Which Blur managed to do pretty well with this album release right here. More familar sounding Blur tunes include the brilliant pop of 'Look Inside America' alongside the dreamy 'Waterloo Sunset' feel of the opening 'Beetlebum'. Well, there's also a feel of The Beatles circa 'Revolver' perhaps, if only just in the harmonic blend. It's not a song that sounds like 'Waterloo Sunset' lyrically, by the way. Damon has toned done his lyric style greatly for this album, ditching the story-telling and character-based writing of the previous few albums. The lyrics here are far simpler lyrics - far more pop oriented, actually. Check out 'On Your Own' which despite a relatively dirty sound, is a huge great big spanking pop song at heart. Simple lyrics, simple tune - it works.

    On the stranger side of things, or at least, the less sounding like previous Blur side of things, we've got the acoustically tinged, and rather attractive actually, 'Country Sad Ballad Man'. The influence of various alternative American bands is apparent on Blur here, maybe a Beck influence lyrically. 'Death Of A Party' is certainly strange, and very interesting with it. The circus/fairground organ sound that popped up on filler-instrumentals like 'Lot 105' from 'Parklife' has been given a serious and 'down' tone, added to fuzzy, slow guitars. Everything combines to provide a song with a slightly sinister feel to it, helped by the lyrics. It's a great track. 'Chinese Bombs' is a good mix of both past and ( then ) current Blur, matching the feel of 'Bank Holiday' from 'Park Life', although encasing it in fuzz and distortion. As i've said, gone are the story-telling lyrics to be replaced by, in this case - fairly avant-garde lyrics. Well, random phrases shouted out by Damon mostly, from the sounds of it. 'I'm Just A Killer For You Love' is delicious and rewards repeated listening as initially it sounds like a dirge. There's a great bass-sound and the vocals certainly don't sound like 'usual' Blur vocals. 'Country Sad Ballad Man' has a friend in 'Strange News From Another Star' which leaves us with the weird, strange experimental instrumental 'Essex Dogs' to close. Side two of this album challenged the long-term Blur fan especially, many were completely bewildered upon a first listen. Given time and repeated listens, suddenly you forgot that Blur ever used to sound like anything else. That's a good re-invention.

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    Els De Clercq elsdeclercq25@hotmail.com
    The orange album, Blur, will forever be associated with a very fun story (fun to me, LOL)...I had been together with Guy for about a month or so when this album came out. I went out and bought it on the very first day it came out (got a completely free promo-T-shirt because of that), and one of the days after that we had this important exam. Guy and me had gone out for dinner the night before, to our favorite pizzeria, and I still remember that Guy ate a Pizza Vesuvio, which has the unlikely (and unlucky as it turned out) combination of egg (yoke) and mushroom as topping.. Anyways, Guy wanted to get up early in the morning to study for the exam, which he did -- because he had to throw up from the pizza! Hehe..no kidding..I on the other hand, didn't want to get up early for the exam, because I had been the good girls and studies for it the day before, so I was woken up by Guy (after the puke-session) with one of the songs from the Blur-album: "You're so Great" ...now we all go: 'Aawwww, how sweet'... Anyway, all of these little reasons make me like Blur a little bit more than your average band....


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    13( 1999, UK pos 1 )
    Tender / Bugman / Coffee & TV / Swamp Song / 1992 / B.L.U.R.E.M.I / Battle / Mellow Song / Trailerpark / Caramel / Trimm Trabb / No Distance Left To Run / Optigan 1

    Previewed by the lengthy, near eight minute long, 'Tender' - '13' proved to be a step too far away from pop music for many long-term Blur listeners who suddenly started to get all nostalgic for the, by then vanishing, Brit-pop scene. 'Tender' has a nice feel to it and the Graham Coxon vocal parts are extremely sweet, but my, does it go on. And on and on. That was the whole point of course, you know, 'Hey Jude' by The Beatles went on for quite a bit too, but there's a difference - 'Hey Jude' was really great, 'Tender' is just ok. The second single 'Coffee & TV', sung entirely by Graham Coxon, was much more like it for pop-blur fans. Nice, melodic and simple guitars - a good strong chorus, a funny video featuring a milk-carton - and hey-presto, a pop-hit is born! Inbetween these two singles sits the mighty strange weird-out that is 'Bugman', pure nonsense, but pretty good fun. Songs like 'Bugman' and 'Swamp Song' are taking the more alternative approach that the less obviously immediate songs from the 'Blur' album took. There's a problem with too much to this on the one album though, as it could be argued that there is here. '1992' has its moments though. It's a funny thing, Blur actually going full-circle, the one song this reminds me of the most that they've done before is 'Sing' back in 1991. Indeed, apparently the origins of this track date right back to the early nineties, hence the title, I suppose. Very few of the songs here appear to have been recorded in a conventional manner. In places it sounds like long stretches of improvisation have been cut-up, three minutes of various sections taken from such an improvisation - then put back together into something resembling a song, hence the immensely daft and self-indulgent 'Swamp Song', for one.

    Speaking of indulgence, self-indulgence or otherwise, what the hell is 'Battle'? Well, it's a vague atmosphere in search of a tune, for one. Having said that, this overly lengthy ( nearly eight minutes long ) tuneless dirge does have an hypnotic feel to it. '13' is all feel and atmosphere. These aren't for the most, songs. At least, not in the usual sense. Oh, by the way. Around the three and a half minute mark, 'Battle' suddenly includes a beautiful, almost ambient section of music. Still, let's forget 'Battle' and talk about 'Mellow Song' instead. This is back to the likes of 'Country Sad Ballad Man', Blur folk music inspired by American music. It's a very nice track. Less nice is the seven minute plus wash of ambience that is 'Caramel', certainly one of the more experimental pieces here. Better, and a highlight of the album for me, is 'Trimm Trabb'. We've still got a track that sounds 'cut-up', but we've also got some astonishing sounds and sections of music, not least the 'nosier' section where the guitar really hits. It hits, squeals - the drums sound faintly astonishing, although buried beneath mighty noise. 'Trimm Trabb' starts quietly, atmospherically, then moves on, moves outwards. It's a song with a build-up of tension, then ultimate release. Joining 'Trimm Trabb' in the highlights area is the quite frankly gorgeous 'No Distance Left To Run' - simple, very natural and beautiful guitar lines over which Damon sounds more serious, heart-breaking and sincere than he has done in his entire life. 'No Distance Left To Run' also includes gospel flavoured back-up vocals, keeps going with the simple guitar amid other subtle percussion. It's a serious great song, the like of which is needed on this album to overcome the more challenging, difficult to listen to, material.

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    Shane shane_finan@hotmail.com
    Hey, just want to briefly disagree with the review of blur's 13. Granted we all can't like the same thing, but 13 is underrated, and a perfect example of the 90s summed up in an album. Coffee & TV-Britpop. Battle-My Bloody Valentine. Bugman-Smashin Pumpkins. BLUREMI-Pxies!! Only all, in my opinion, are superior. Then Caramel and No Distance pave the way for the new alternative scene, now spearheaded by radiohead who released kid a a year later. Might not be your cup of tea, but nonetheless revolutionary. Maybe give it another listen?

    Lee Foster
    I agree with some of your review Adrian .But steve saying 'give it another listen' I would rather not! . I really did play this disc alot mainly cos of the critics an the bind blowing reviews it got made me think i needed to keep listening an maybe i would hear something that magic that i was missing . The reality is this album despite been really poor has 3 very good, infact great songs which are the 3 singles TENDER . NO DISTANCE LEFT TO RUN an COFFEE AN TV .. TENDER blow my mind when i 1st heard it an still does when i play it now . an awesome song that just seemed to come out of nowhere an became an instant classic . NO DISTANCE was proberbly the only other song that stuck in my head an i really liked on 1st few listens . Very good song an well produced an original music . an experiment that worked . COFFEE AN TV . well thats an understated classic aint it . It definetley didnt grab me an get my attention 1st 10 spins of the album . But when it was put out as a single an! been played an hailed it kinda got drilled into me thru repetion an fact it was on the radio at work every two mins .. It is a very good understated song which really works well .. Elsewhere on this album though i have to say i played it 10 times an could play it 100 more an still not be struck or remember any of the songs or discover what the hell all this fuss is about with this album . Its an experimental album an only 3 of the experiments work in my opinion an others go over my head even when im trying to give em full focus . unmemorable an unlikeable .. But the 3 singles are actually really good songs an they snatched them 3 songs off an made em singles an put them on the BEST OF .they are the only goods worth taking from this album . without them you have nothing of any worth an basic rubbish. id say if you like this try TRAVIS-12 MEMORIES album . that is a bit more focused an structured . but does still only have 3 great songs on it an they were the singles . but i! t has 2 others that are okay aswell . so in all honesty i didn! t get th e fuss about this album an i am a blur fan . it is an album that is held up by 3 songs .. an filled up with rubbish apart from them 3 .. but the fact that them 3 songs are so great makes it worth 6 out of ten .. TENDER an COFFEE an maybe NO DISTANCE as individual songs i would give a straight 10 out of 10 . excellent songs


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    Think Tank 8 ( 2003, UK pos 1 )
    Ambulance / Out Of Time / Crazy Beat / Good Song / On The Way To The Club / Brothers And Sisters / Caravan / We've Got A File On You / Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club / Sweet Song / Jets / Gene By Gene / Battery In Your Leg

    So, what does losing your lead-guitar player do to your band? Many bands simply fold after such an event, witness The Stone Roses for just one. Others hire a less talented replacement and carry on, but it's never the same. Some bands just simply carry on, don't even bother with a replacement, because they've got the resources amongst the existing band-members to still make decent music. It's the latter case with Blur. The loss of Graham Coxon is regrettable, of course - but the door isn't shut to him. As I understand it, he's welcome back, so long as he can make his peace with the other members of Blur. What effect has the lack of a lead-guitar player had on 'Think Tank' and Blur in general, then? Well, it's not the same if you see them perform live, obviously. It's in that area Graham will be missed most, even just not seeing him there sends out the message that something is wrong, somehow. As far as this album is concerned, Damon's time ( and experience gained ) spent with various side-projects such as Gorillaz is brought into the melting pot, the sound is as expected, less guitar oriented. Otherwise however, this isn't a radical departure from either of the previous two Blur albums. It is different, of course - the sound is far less grimy and fuzzy than '13', the songs are more commercial than '13' or the 'Blur' album and Damon and co produce songs in varying array of styles here. The main difference is that Blur sound a lot more relaxed. Another side-effect of the loss of Coxon, perhaps? Well, just maybe - less tension in the studio produces songs that sound, well, less tense? Makes sense to me.

    Speaking of 'more commercial' material, 'Crazy Beat' for one is going to receive some flak for its seemingly blantant commercial nature. 'Crazy Beat', after all the hoo-hah and rumours is actually one of only two songs here featuring the production input of Fatboy Slim. His contribution seemingly consisting entirely to put in the 'funny' "Crazy Beat" voice that repeats over and over as the song tries too hard to be a new 'Song 2' for American audiences, in particular. So, 'Crazy Beat' is irritating, it's obnoxious. It could also be a huge hit, it's dumb but very catchy. The lead single, 'Out Of Time' is a grower, not at all an obvious single-type of song. Rather strange that they choose this, perhaps? Well, maybe not that strange. It's one of the better songs, Damon can write good songs, you know? The one song here that includes Coxon amongst the writing credits is the closing 'Battery In Your Leg'. It's a nice piano ballad, although a piano ballad with many strange noises and effects, but nice strange noises, even so. The guitar sounds ghostly, off in the distance - like Graham hasn't so much left as suddenly departed this mortal coil. Nice song. 'Ambulance' sounds like the '13' album did, only with less guitar and a more radio-friendly sound. It sounds rich, if rich is the right word to use. I'm not sure that it is - let's just say it sounds modern. Because, well, it does. 'Sweet Song' and 'Good Song' match up and work as a nice couple of very affecting ballads. Proper songs these, proper songs!

    So, what else is here? Well, a punk styled thrash with the brief 'We've Got A File On You'. More 'experimental' material with the likes of 'Morrocan Peoples Club' and the meandering jam based nature of 'Jets' and the rather unfinished sounding 'Gene By Gene'. A pretty solid album, though. It sounds confident, contains real good material with the slower songs, especially. 'Think Tank' sounds like Blur have a future with, or without, that Coxon fellow. Funnily enough, 'Think Tank' also sounds like Blur. That may seem a strange thing to say, but things could have been far, far worse.

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    Readers Comments

    aaron glen@mitchell1818.fsnet.co.uk
    “No I aint got nothing to be scared of” god that was stuck in my head for days ‘Ambulance’ Most likely the most catchy tune but I don’t know why its catchy song in the world I just go around he house repeating those words. Anyway I was pissed of about the whole ‘groliaz’ thing but now I think it’s the best thing Damon could of done to move blur from just another dieing band to sounding like a pick of fresh roses god this is cool ‘out of time’ is not the best but a grower and again sticks in ya head. I think the worst thing about this album is most likely b’brothers and sisters’ that’s a bit lame com e to think of it still not that bad and another bad thing is that not so good but productive ‘Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club’ so yes everything else is great so sleepy and relaxing I think they gained something from ‘graham coxon’s’ departure so I don’t care if never returns to much but I hope he does because he’s solo stuff stinks. I think the next album could be something special I MEAN WORLD SHATERING but at the mo this is a good stepping stone a 9/10 from Aaron

    Paul Haines paul_haines@hotmail.com
    I originally didn't buy 'Think Tank' because of the awful 'Crazy Beat' and the over indulgent tracks from '13'. And then I heard Coxon had left. I eventually picked it for a bargain and found I enjoyed this album more than anything since "The Great Escape".

    Severed_Alliance 10068729@ndai.ac.uk
    I'm going out on a limb here and am going to say that 'Think Tank' is Blurs best effort since 'Parklife' (their undoubted best). They've achieved exactly what Radiohead did with 'Kid A' imo, released a album which is a dnoticable depature from previuous styles but they've done it in a diverse, individual, engaging and experimental way, or be it a wee bit commercial in places. Highlights for me include... 'Ambulance' 'Out Of Time' 'Good Song' 'Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowling Club' 'Jets' Very good album, 9/10, imo

    Frank fraposa@clarku.edu
    As a big Blur fan I'm a bit mystified at what happened to them for 13 and Think Tank. Blur was one of the few bands I counted on to release reliably good and quirky rock music, and then they got all experimental. The jarring mixing of short silly rock song like "BLUREMI" "We've Got A File on You" and "Crazy Beat" seems quite juvenile and destroys any atmosphere the experimental albums manage to conjure up. "Battle" and "Jets" bore me to tears. The only thing positive I can say about late era Blur is that Damon's ballads are still good on both albums. It's just not enough though to fix things for me though. I want Coxon back in the mix!

    Danny Danny@leftoffthedial.com
    I am an avid music lover and Think Tank is my favorite album by any artist period. 'Caravan' and 'sweet song' are the two best songs.

    Dan danielofcadman@hotmail.com
    hey adrian. Whilst I am confident you are used to many readers advising you on albums to listen to, I urge you to listen to my request. 'Mali Music' was an album put together by Damon Albarn for Oxfam. But its just amazing. Laregly just a variety of african instruments, but some damon vocals too. If you like music you will olove this album, as its all great. But what makes it one of my favorite albums is that it is an album, each track leads to the other. JUst amazing. Please listen, I would love to read your review.

    John D pinup_nights@yahoo.co.uk
    This is a weird album - sometimes I think the songs sound too slow, sometimes just right. I saw Blur do "good song" lve, and it sounded far better - it had Gospel vocas at the end, and lovely live guitar, not the computer looped one here. Sweet Song is gorgeous. Chop off "moroccan..." and "jets" and you'd have a nice lean album. I agree Gene by Gene sounds weirdly unfinished. Addds to the mystery woozy vibe I suppose...

    Jack jackeatspie@hotmail.com
    I must say 'caravan', 'good song' and 'out of time' are amazing songs. a break from what i am used to but none the less excellent. This is the first blur album that the current teenage generation have been subjected to and it is what i think they will expect from now on. It is just difficult for older fans to adjust from the 'old' blur they know and love. I think without the commercial sounding 'crazy beat' it would not attract the new teenage audience perhaps they are aiming for.

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    this page last updated 2/05/08



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