Friday, July 06, 2007

Singles going steady 7: The past is just a Blur

Next up in my painstaking CD single trawl, I come across a couple by Blur. First up, from the tail end of the last decade was No Distance Left to Run, off their 13 album. Funny that 13 wasn’t universally liked for some reason. Maybe people yearned after their cheeky boy knees-up-mockney days. But that’s just daft; The Great Escape was always the worst thing they ever did. My favourite Blur ‘period’ is definitely the Blur-13 late 90s time. These are their best albums, and surprisingly the ’99 Reading Festival is the only time I’ve even seen them live. Not sure why that is, but it just helps to enshrine that era of Blur in my memory.

From that single, I’ve posted the Cornelius remix of Tender, where he adds some amusing skittery beats over what is perhaps a too-earnest song. The result is probably better than the original. The other b-side To You, is a pleasingly lo-fi effort.

The autumn of the next year saw Blur’s next single release, which unusually wasn’t on an album. Well, it was on their greatest hits compilation, but that doesn’t really count. It’s probably the best single the band have ever put out, and is about as far from Britpop that they’ve travelled.

Music is My Radar has more skittery beats and interesting rhythms, fuzzed up guitars, Albarn’s odd singing and lyrics about Tony Allen getting him dancing. Black Book is even better, stretching out to over 8 minutes, with the band getting themselves locked into a groove that recalls both funk and Krautrock, with a gospel ending and Damon working himself into an almost silly falsetto. It might even be the best thing Blur have done.

Whatever, it shows why, despite differences in sales and crowds, Blur will always be in a different league to their Britpop rivals Oasis. While the Gallaghers continually plough the same old dreary pub-rock furrow, Albarn and co. were always willing to try something new. Who knows, maybe the rumours about them back together for a new album this year will prove to be true, and result in something good.

Download: Blur – Tender (Cornelius Remix)
Download: Blur – To You
Download: Blur – Music is My Radar
Download: Blur – Black Book


Anonymous said...

first time here.
first time listening to the cornelius mix. thanks :)

Dezz said...

Great article, and good choice of songs, but it's So You, not To You :D

syferium said...
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Matthew said...

I've always had a thing for Blur b-sides. There's a ton of charity shops round our house full of unwanted CD singles and I've been hoovering up stuff from this era, presumably as mid-30s indie kids grow up, tune into Radio 2 and get rid of the legacy of their yoof.

The Daily Growl said...

A bit like me then. Apart from the Radio 2 bit...