Living with…Blur…for a week
Mention the mid 90s and Blur (and by that I don’t mean a mis-pronunciation of the UK Labour leader of the time) and you will think of the great battle of the Britpop bands which dominated the press for all of a couple of weeks.
Blur vs Oasis.
The race to be number one.
The supposed bitter hatred fuelled by a press focusing on the two lead bands in Britain’s music revival of the 90s as they went head to head and released singles on the same day. It was your archetypal mouthy Northerners vs posh Southerners. An oh so British battle of the classes.
And we swallowed the story. Blur won the battle with their single Country House with Oasis coming a close second with Roll With it. For a few weeks it seemed Brit music was ruling the waves when in hindsight Blur had just found a great way of getting the whole country to sing the c- word along with them without us noticing it.
That’s sort of what it boiled down to.
But were they actually rivals? Or was this, as we all suspected, record company spin?
Well, Oasis’s Noel Gallagher is never short of an insensitive word or two and rather famously spouted
“I hate that Alex and Damon. I hope they catch Aids and die.”
Even by Noel’s standards that was pretty grim and he confesses to that possibly being one of the few times that he regrets opening his mouth. Never one to not blow his own trumpet he also publically compared the two bands
“People say we’re the Rolling Stones and that Blur are the Beatles. We’re the Stones AND the Beatles. They’re the f***ing Monkees!”
Nice. But not overly personal, maybe just a bit of posturing possibly? He surely woouldm’t get over-personal again?
“The guitarist I’ve got a lot of time for. The drummer I’ve never met — hear he’s a nice guy. The bass player and the singer — I f***ing hate them two.”
So that’s where Noel stood. Did Blur share a similar feeling of hatred towards the Manchester band?
Well if they did, I’m struggling to find it – they kept it quiet. That’s not to say that Blur weren’t at times naughty boys (in that Monty Python Brian sort of way) but of their Oasis rivals they almost seemed puzzled by it all… Lead singer Damon Albarn told NME in 1997 –
“It`s important that Oasis are rude about everybody and that they get drunk. That`s what people like you want, and you encourage them. Fair enough. It`s nice, isn`t it? But it`s nothing to do with me. They came to see us in Manchester and they were very pleasant boys. Very nice. I`d like to see that as a quote. Oasis are very nice boys.”
So no81bob’s conclusion on the rivalry. Blur turned out to be quite nice really and Oasis (and particularly Noel) were all a bit mouthy but ‘nice boys’ as well really. What people didn’t like about Blur was they were just a bit too clever to be rock stars, and we don’t like people to be a bit too clever in Britain.
Who won? Doesn’t really matter now, I think we all did. Both bands produced some great music at the time. We all believed that British music was the top of the world for a brief but glorious moment. And I can’t believe that a record executive or two didn’t make a few bob out of it all.
Talking of winning, I’ll keep this brief.
If on Tuesday night, Brighton and Hove Albion had dispatched their much hated rivals Crystal Palace then trust me I would have started this week’s blog with glowing comments about the value of rivalry and how positive it can be in encouraging healthy competition.
As it was, we sunk to a most hateful defeat, so I’ll keep this brief.
Anyone with a passing interest in football, who comes from outside the BN or SE25 postcodes has struggled to understand the deep and lasting rivalry (well hatred actually)that exists between the clubs. Trust me it’s real, and hinges around a man throwing down a pile of change on the ground in the heat of the moment…if you’re intrigued to know more here’s a link to an excellent article in The Guardian this week that explains it all
If you’re not, on to this week’s album…
1994’s Parklife was probably Blur’s peak. It certainly contains two of their best known singles – Parklife and Girls and Boys, and is a wonderfully quirky mix of brilliant songs and just sheer silliness. It captures a happy, particularly London view of the world in the mid 90s that with a few exceptions has lasted well.
Parklife has some of my favourite lyrics
“I get up when I want except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by the dustmen (parklife)
I put my trousers on, have a cup of tea and I think about leaving the house (parklife)
I feed the pigeons I sometimes feed the sparrows too
it gives me a sense of enormous well being (parklife)
And then i’m happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge
there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it (parklife)”
Probably the best juxtaposition of pigeons and sparrows in contemporary popular music.
As to the rest of the album we have a myriad of flavours – high to mid-energy disco, indie rock, a little bit of Depeche Mode,a splash of Lennon/ McCartney, music hall and that rather jaunty Blur sound that was peculiarly their’s.
My favourite track is at the end of the album when they take on Oasis at their own game of epic rock numbers with This is a Low. The lyrics are poetic – ” into the sea goes pretty england and me” – drawing on the shipping forecast for inspiration and the music swells and dips like the sea itself. A beautiful end to an epic album? Except they go and stick a silly music hall bit on at the end!
For the video of the week it is back to Parklife though – just to remind us of the mid 90s, and just to proof that Madness didn’t have a monopoly on cheeky chappy
Gleewatch: Not watched it yet.
Twotes of the week
@PeasOneDay: A traffic warden sees a car with Gonzo in the window & writes a ticket.The owners irate,but the warden says”Sorry mate,Kermit holders only”.
@horizonshift: When a-manager starts the meeting with “let’s keep this informal” he/she(mostly he) means ‘I’ve not bothered to do my homework’ @tom_peters
@fidouglas: Why, when the Daily Mail reports on the death of a young person, does it feel the need to report the price of the parental home?
@GreatestQuotes: “Thinking too well of people often allows them to be better than they otherwise would.” – Nelson Mandela
@sarcasticapple: Loyalty card stamp piracy costs the coffee industry over a dozen cups of coffee every year. It’s problem of grande, nay, venti proportions.