Some thoughts as I’ve spent the last week listening to the Blur 21 vinyl boxset in chronological order:
- Their development from album to album is outstanding and fascinating. Each album is distinct from the next, and it builds off the sound they have focussed on in the previous album.
- The near-perfection of Parklife couldn’t have happened without Leisure and Modern Life Is Rubbish, where they were finding themselves. Leisure is like High School, Modern Life is like University, and Parklife is where they took all of what they learned to reach their potential.
- The Great Escape is a much better album than I ever remember. It has always been written off as an attempt to re-create the success of Parklife. While it may not be a big jump in the trajectory of their sound, it’s one of their most consistent albums from back-to-front.
- Leisure and Blur were always my least favourite in the catalogue, even though they contain what are probably some of my favourite songs: She’s So High, There’s No Other Way, Beetlebum, and You’re So Great.
- After The Great Escape, it seems like they were trying to go somewhere completely unfamiliar to them. They didn’t quite get there with Blur, but they found that place on 13. Oasis found a sound they were comfortable with, and stayed there album after album, whereas Blur kept searching and finding new places to go. The Blur vs. Oasis talk in the mid 1990s seems so silly now.
- I remember having very low expectations before Think Tank was released. I always thought of Graham Coxon as the under-appreciated backbone of Blur, and they would fail miserably without him. But I love Think Tank. Without Graham Coxon, they had to go to yet another new place instead of staying put, even though the album has a few stinkers (Jets and Crazy Beat come to mind).
- While they are one of my favourite bands, I always felt like their albums could use some editing. Even their best albums could have a song or two removed. Parklife is wonderful, but I’ve always hated London Loves and Jubilee. I’m not a big fan of Trailerpark from 13 either. But their great songs FAR outweigh the weak ones.
- Leisure is my least favourite Blur album, but it sounds really really great on vinyl for some reason. The drums in Bang sounds perfect.
- I’ve waited a long time to listen to Beetlebum on vinyl. I fought to figure out if I wanted to listen to each album in chronological order, or just crack open Blur and listen to Beetlebum over and over again. I decided to listen in order, and I don’t regret it. As I was listening, I found myself getting really excited for what was coming next. But I did have to listen to Beetlebum several times before moving on to 13.
- I guess Blur has grown on me over the years. The first time I heard them, when I saw the Girls & Boys videao, I despised them. Now they are one of my favourite bands. It was a slow process. It may be worth your while to spend some time with them.