Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nothing Says Christmas Like Forgiveness !!!

One of my favorite bands and one of the most important to music in the 90's (in the UK), Blur appears to have settled their differences. In the big 90's Britpop boom, there were many players, but 2 bands were the title fighters. Like the Rolling Stones going head to head with the Beatles, Blur went toe to toe with a little band called - Oasis. While Blur was embraced in the UK and the rest of the world, they barely made a blip on the map in the U.S. short of some college radio and indie hipsters. America was enamored with Flannel and Grunge while the UK was dancing their pants off. They did experience a modest success in the Spring of 1997 with the release of their eponymous album and it's 2nd single: "Song 2". You know it. You hear it at every sporting event since the late 1990's. With its recurring "Woo Hoo!", it's instantly recognizable.

The boys of Blur are so much more!

Like 4 boys from Liverpool in the 60's, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, and Dave Rountree grew up in Essex, England and formed Blur. After 5 or so albums, Graham Coxon, the lead guitarist, left the group with the release of "13" in 1999. Blur would go on to release "Think Tank" in 2003 as a power trio, but the spark just wasn't there. Lead singer and frontman, Damon Albarn was unable to achieve the heights that they had once reached. At teh same time, Albarn found himself pouring a great deal of his creativity into his trip-hop side project, Gorillaz, with cartoonist Jamie Hewlett and producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura for their 2001 debut.

Blur seemed destined never to return at this point. With childhood friends, Coxon and Albarn, refusing to speak and make amends, Blur had headed the way of the Beatles before them. Albarn now threw all of his efforts into musical side projects. In 2004, Gorillaz released their 2nd album, "Demon Days", and firmly made their presence known with Jonathan "Danger Mouse" Burton behind the mixing board fresh off his Jay-Z/Beatles mixtape, "The Grey Album". In the summer of 2006, Albarn released an album by yet another side project, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, with the help of Paul Simonen of the Clash and again - Danger Mouse. On the other hand, Graham Coxon has had minimal commercial success and some critical acclaim for his 3 solo albums.

This past week, hell froze over. Coxon and Albarn announced that Blur in its original form would be playing together again this coming summer for at least 2 dates/festivals. Hurray! To bad it will all be in the UK, and I'll never get to see them. I almost got to see them in the fall of 1997 at 328 Performance Hall in Nashville (on their last U.S. tour), except the show was 18 and up, in the middle of October, and I turned 18 in November. Screwed Again!

If you don't know any Blur (other than "Song 2"),
feel free to check out these favorites of mine!

Blur - "There's No Other Way" (1991) - My Favorite

Blur - "Coffee & TV"

(1999 w/ Graham Coxon on lead vocals)
Their greatest video w/ the Milk Carton

Blur - "Girls and Boys" (1994)

Blur - "Look Inside America" (1997)

Blur - "Charmless Man" (1995)

Blur - "Parklife" (1994)

Blur - "Out of Time" (2003)

Blur - "Beetlebum" (1997)

Enjoy !!!
(to the 1 person who actually read this far...................Joy, are you there?)


jccvi said...

I probably should comment, since my first Blur album was burned from your copy of the UK greatest hits album.

Interestingly, I had a friend in ninth grade who was into Blur. For years after that I thought they were a local hardcore band, since that's what this guy was otherwise into (he's a tatooist now).

I would think most people would also know "The Universal" from commercials (Lexus?).

Will said...

yup, they've had a couple of commercials...."Crazy Beat" was in a Levi's commercial with a guy trying to lasso a hot rod car rodeo style...

A said...

that coffee and tv video is great. i only remember it b/c it was on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack.

i was never hip enough to be into Blur. i liked radiohead, but stopped buying their records after ok computer . . .

Leland said...

The man knows too much. Very impressive review of a much-overlooked UK band (at least stateside). Song 2 got lots of play time in the blue benz, the whole album was awesome.

The Dan the Automator reference threw me for a loop. I have been obsessed with remebering where I knew that name, only to find that it was during my education at the handsome boy modelling school circa 1999 that I got to know Dan. Maybe a bio on that group is due?

It's a shame Alex stopped listening to Radiohead after OK Computer, that's when they REALLy became important.

Will said...

Well, Lando...I'll put that on my list of things to do - Handsome Boys Modeling School was a staple in Murphy and I's room. "Rock and Roll Never Ever Hip Hopped Like This!!!". In the dreary days of January, expect a bio on Prince Paul and Dan the Man.
Good memories with Blur there, John. That was right when we got back from London. Remember pints of Speckled Hen in Hereford Arms....Ahhhhhhhh