With Alex James' loping bass line and Graham Coxon's percussive guitar "Parklife" was an infectious slacker song.
Blur started as Seymour. But when they signed their first record deal the only proviso was a name change. With that accomplished, Blur set out to conquer the world or be bigger than Oasis.
The first impression in the public consciousness came in '92 with "There 's No Other Way." The song had a strong melody and a memorable hook. Two years later "Parklife" was released in the U.K. and Blur began a world tour. The "Parklife" album was #1 in the UK and the title track hit the Top 10.
Feuds can be great for publicity or just waste time. The British media went out of its way to create trouble between Oasis and Blur. Oasis already had enough controversy with Noel and Liam Gallagher's fights. In the short-term, Blur won a victory in August '95 (at the height of the feud) when their single "Country House" debuted at #1 on the U.K charts. Oasis and "Roll With It" had to settle for #2. Blur celebrated the next month by giving a rooftop concert on the Oxford Street HMV store in London. What is it with rooftop concerts?
In '96, Blur and especially Damon Albarn, Blur's lead vocalist and keyboard player, contributed to the excellent "Trainspotting" soundtrack. Blur continued to have an impact through the '90s in their native U.K. In the U.S., despite tours, they were not as well known or received as they should have been.
An Albarn-Coxon falling out led to a band hiatus but eventually Albarn picked up the mantle playing Coxon's guitar parts. However, Albarn and Coxon were able to patch things up and Blur re-formed playing concerts (a show in London's Hyde Park sold out in a matter of minutes) with the intent of recording an album. But before entering the studio the band issued the '09 compilation "A Beginner's Guide To Blur."
Another fond remembrance came the following year in the form of the Blur documentary, "No Distance Left To Run." Nominated for a Grammy, in the Best Long Form Music Video category, it lost to "The Doors - When You're Strange." But the onetime kings of Britpop took home the Outstanding Contribution to Music honor at the '12 Brit Awards.
All this looking back was probably just as well. Albarn unhappy with Blur's studio efforts halted the sessions. The group did manage a headlining a show at Hyde Park for the '12 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
With Blur holed-up in Hong Kong following the cancellation of a Japan tour, they started work on an album. The result, probably to everyone's surprise, was "The Magic Whip," their first studio LP since "Think Tank" and their first with Coxon since '99's "13."
1993 Modern Life Is Rubbish
1995The Great Escape
2003 Think Tank
2015 The Magic Whip
After muddling through a couple CDs, Blur hit their peak with indelible "Parklife." The title track, "Girls & Boys" and "London Loves," are outstanding. The follow up "The Great Escape" released at the peak of their rivalry with Oasis is another solid album, though a bit less energetic than its predecessor.