Blur

Blur

Damon Albarn – circa 1995

 

“He’s a twentieth century boy, with his hands on the rails / Trying not to be sick again and holding on for tomorrow” – ‘For Tomorrow’ (Daman Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree)

One of the great rivalries in rock music is the contest between Blur and Oasis.  “Both bands have really upped the stakes,” says Blur’s frontman, Damon Albarn.  “Someone’s gonna come out on top and someone’s gonna come out second.  By the very nature of being in a band, you’re always quite competitive.”  In August 1995 Blur’s ‘Country House’ is matched against Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’.  In this tussle of the titans of britpop, which band will emerge triumphant?

Damon Albarn is born on 23 March 1968 in Whitechapel, London, England.  His parents are Keith Albarn and Hazel Albarn (nee Dring).  Keith Albarn is briefly the manager of Soft Machine; a British prog rock band of the late 1960s-1970s.  He goes on to found a toy company, Playlearn Ltd.  Young Damon is used as a test subject for the products of Playlearn.  Hazel Albarn is a designer of theatrical sets.  Damon Albarn has a younger sister, Jessica (born 1971).  The Albarns are described as ‘a hippy family.’  They are ‘bohemian’ and ‘liberal.’

When he is 6 years old, Damon Albarn attends his first concert.  It is a show by U.S. pop group The Osmonds.  Music is part of the creative Albarn household, but it is a different sort of music.  “I grew up listening to Indian ragas and old New Orleans jazz,” recalls Damon.  He learns to play both piano and guitar in his youth.  Although he is otherwise left-handed, Damon Albarn plays guitar in a right-handed manner.  Damon claims that classical composer Kurt Weill ‘has more effect on his musical development than any pop songwriter.’

The Albarn family moves to Leytonstone in East London.  When Damon Albarn is 9 years old, he and his family relocate to Aldham, Essex, in Southeast England.  They move to Colchester, Essex, when Damon is 10.  Keith Albarn, Damon’s father, becomes the head of The School of Art & Design at Colchester Institute.  Damon Albarn attends the Stanway Comprehensive School (now The Stanway School).  Damon confesses that he was, “A bit of an oddball at school.”  It is at Stanway that Damon first meets Graham Coxon.

Graham Leslie Coxon is born on 12 March 1969 in Rintein, West Germany.  He is the son of Bob Coxon and Pauline Coxon.  Bob Coxon is a clarinet player and band leader in the British Army.  He is stationed in Germany when his son is born.  Pauline Coxon is a language educator.  Graham Coxon has an older sister named Haley.  Graham Coxon says, “I liked Germany; I’m not into Berlin…but Munich was good.”  The Coxon family moves back to the U.K. in 1974.  At first, they live in Spondon, near Derby, with Graham’s grandfather.  In 1977 Bob Coxon is transferred to a U.K. Army camp in Colchester and his family naturally relocate to Colchester too.  Bob Coxon also winds up running Saturday morning jazz classes.  Graham Coxon attends Stanway Comprehensive where he meets Damon Albarn.

Legend has it that Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon bond over a mutual affection for bands such as The Beatles, The Jam, XTC, Human League and Madness.  “It’s the faster bands that made me want to play guitar, bands like The Jam,” confirms Coxon.  By the time he is 12 years old, Graham Coxon can play guitar, drums, saxophone and fife.  Damon Albarn’s fondness for the same bands as Graham Coxon is perhaps a bit of a distortion.  Damon grew up without much fascination for rock music.  He listened to Kurt Weill, Indian ragas and jazz.  “Graham really got me into rock music because I wasn’t interested in it really,” explains Damon.  “It was a way of hanging out with Graham really.”  The two boys are both social misfits in the school community but find solace in each other’s company.  “We were great mates.  We were like brothers when we were younger,” Damon Albarn says of his friendship with Graham Coxon.  The duo start a band called The Aftermath, ‘which doesn’t get anywhere.’  With Damon Albarn on vocals and piano and Graham Coxon on guitar, they move on to another short-lived act, Real Lives.  By this time the boys have finished their time at Stanway Comprehensive School and go their separate ways…for a little while.

Damon Albarn goes to the Loughton campus of the East 15 acting school in Debden, Loughton (near London).  It doesn’t go very well for Albarn.  He forms the opinion that he is “the worst actor in the world” and leaves after a year.

Graham Coxon moves on to Colchester Art College.  He changes to a two year stint studying fine arts at Goldsmiths’ College in London.  While Graham Coxon is at Goldsmiths’ he makes the acquaintance of another Goldsmiths’ student who lives in the apartment below him.  His new chum is Alex James.

Steven Alexander James is born on 21 November 1968 in Boscombe, Bournemouth, England.  His father, Jason James, is a sales director of a company selling waste compactors and baling machines. Alex has a younger sister named Deborah.  After his grandfather dies, Alex James and his family move to a guest house which was a retirement centre.  At junior school, Alex tries to learn violin to please his mother, but finds the instrument too difficult.  When Alex is 13, his father buys a piano and this instrument catches his attention.  Alex James attends Bournemouth School for Boys and starts playing in bands.  His first band is Age Of Consent with Jay Burt-Smale.  For his 16th birthday, Alex James hopes to get a synthesiser – but it is too expensive.  Instead he gets a bass guitar.  James’ next group is christened Mr Pang’s Bang Bangs – Mr Pang being the landlord’s name.  Alex James goes on to Goldsmiths’ College where he studies French literature.

In 1988 Graham Coxon meets Alex James at Goldsmiths’ College.  The two of them form a group called Nichtkunst.  Translated from German (remember, Graham Coxon was born in Germany), the group’s name means roughly ‘not art.’

Meanwhile, Damon Albarn starts a part-time course but, contrary to popular belief, not at Goldsmiths’ College.  “I didn’t go to Goldsmiths’…[I] got a part-time, twice-a-week course on some spurious music thing so that I could get into the student union and hang out with everyone,” he says.  This brings him back into Graham Coxon’s orbit – but, for the moment, Albarn and Coxon maintain separate paths.  Over the next several months, Damon Albarn divides his time between his studies, his music career and part-time jobs.  Albarn’s resume includes a stint as a barman in London’s Portobello Road, a job at Le Croissant at Euston Station, and a position as a teaboy at Graeme Holdaway’s Beat Factory Studio.  At this recording studio, Albarn can work on his own music at night.  Damon Albarn forms a short-lived synth pop duo with Sam Vamplew called Two’s A Crowd.

A more important band for Damon Albarn is Circus, formed in 1988.  He is joined in this enterprise by Eddie Deedigan and Tom Aitkenhead (a college friend of Damon).  Somewhere along the line Dave Brolan also joins Circus.  In October 1988 the ranks of Circus enlarge with the addition of Dave Rowntree.

David Alexander De Horne Rowntree is born on 8 May 1964 in Colchester, Essex, England.  He is the son of John and Susan Rowntree.  They also have a daughter named Sarah.  John Rowntree is a sound engineer at the British Broadcasting Corporation.  Susan Rowntree is a viola player.  With such parents, it is not surprising that Dave Rowntree has a talent for music.  His parents encourage Dave to play bagpipes, but he prefers drums.  Dave Rowntree and his father, John, play percussion in the Colchester Silver Band (a brass band).  Dave Rowntree attends the Gilberd School in Colchester during the week and then does weekend classes in percussion at the Landermere Music School in Thorpe-le-Soken.  One of his weekend teachers is Bob Coxon, Graham Coxon’s father.  Dave Rowntree and Graham Coxon play in various Colchester bands together such as Idle Vice, The Curious Band and Hazel Dean And The Carp Eaters From Hell.  Dave Rowntree studies for a Higher National Diploma in computer science at Thames Polytechnic.  Subsequently, he works as a computer programmer for Colchester Borough Council.  It is Graham Coxon who introduces Dave Rowntree to Damon Albarn as a possible drummer for Circus.

After Tom Aitkenhead leaves Circus, Graham Coxon is asked to take his place.  Eddie Deedigan and Dave Brolan are fired in December 1988 and Alex James is asked to join Circus.  So, for the first time, the four principal players in this story are assembled: Damon Albarn (vocals), Graham Coxon (guitar), Alex James (bass) and Dave Rowntree (drums).

Circus changes the name of the band to Seymour later in December 1988.  This name is inspired by J.D. Salinger’s novella ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ (1959).  Seymour plays their first live shows in the summer of 1989.  In November 1989 Seymour is offered a recording contract by Food Records.  This label is a subsidiary of EMI.  Food is run by journalist Andy Ross and former keyboardist for The Teardrop Explodes, Dave Balfe.  The only catch with the recording contract is that Food don’t like the name Seymour and require that it be changed.  Food supply a list of alternative names and the four members of the group choose Blur from that list.  Blur also acquire a manager named Mike Collins.

Damon Albarn drops out of his [non] Goldsmiths’ part-time class.  Graham Coxon leaves half way through his art degree at Goldsmiths’ College.  Alex James leaves Goldsmiths’ ‘with unfinished studies.’  Dave Rowntree may never have been at Goldsmiths’ since there is a reference to him ‘leaving a job in London’ to join Circus back in 1988.

From March 1990 to July 1990 Blur tour Britain as the opening act for visiting U.S. band The Cramps.  Blur’s next move is to release their first single.

The music of Blur is first described as alt rock (i.e. alternative rock).  It then becomes britpop, before resuming the alt rock tag – sometimes substituted by terms such as indie, lo-fi, art rock or electronic.  Alt rock is a rather vague term that simply equates to rock music that, typically, falls outside the strictures of the pop chart.  Since Blur become fairly consistent hit-makers (at least in the U.K.), alt rock seems an odd designation.  In terms of attitude, they seem to follow their own instincts more than any commercial dictates so, in that sense, they are perhaps an alt rock act.  More fitting is britpop.  Together with rival act Oasis, Blur virtually invents britpop.  Other acts such as Pulp, Supergrass and The Verve follow in their wake.  So what is britpop?  It is a reinvention of the mid-1960s sound of U.K. bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Small Faces.  Britpop pushes guitars forward again instead of dance grooves.  It is ‘a feel-good vibe’ that fits in with the growth of ‘lads’ culture’ and comes to be associated with a ‘cool Britannia’ era of fashion, art and – via Tony Blair’s Prime Ministership (1994-2007)– politics.  The britpop heyday is roughly 1994 to 1998.

Most of the songs recorded by Blur are jointly composed by the four members of the band: Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree.  The ‘witty, sarcastic lyrics’ are primarily the province of vocalist Damon Albarn.  “I’m English, and I started off as a songwriter, so I can’t really escape that – it’s there,” says Albarn of the group’s Anglo-fixated britpop.

The interrelationships of the four members of Blur provide an interesting insight into their chemistry.  Dave Rowntree (born 1964) is the eldest of the group.  Damon Albarn (March 1968) and Alex James (November 1968) occupy the middle ground.  Graham Coxon (born 1969) is the ‘baby’ of the foursome – though the four month gap between Alex and Graham is less than the eight month gap between Damon and Alex.  Alex James is tallest (six feet, two inches), followed by Graham Coxon (six feet, no inches), Damon Albarn (five feet, eleven inches) and Dave Rowntree (five feet, ten inches).  None of them could really be described as short; they are all relatively tall.  In broad strokes, the four individual members of Blur are characterised in this way: Damon Albarn is an ‘intense workaholic’; Graham Coxon is a ‘cripplingly shy guitar nerd’; Alex James is a ‘party animal’ (“I’m a charming c*nt, that’s me,” he happily concedes); and Dave Rowntree is an ‘everyman’, but little known.  The members of Blur have quite different thoughts about fame.  “I was one of those people who really had to become quite successful,” says Damon Albarn.  By contrast, Graham Coxon says, “I’ve never felt like a pop star or acted like one.”  “I think we’d been assuming we were a massive cultural force since day one,” concludes Alex James.  So Blur is a curious package of contradictions and co-operation.

Blur’s debut single, ‘She’s So High’ (UK no. 48), is released on 15 October 1990.  With Damon Albarn’s quavering voice attempting to go as high as the ‘she’ of the title, it is a promising opening sally for Blur.

In 1990 Blur is interviewed by comic book artist Jamie Hewlett.  The event is instigated by Graham Coxon, who is a fan of Hewlett’s work.  The interview is published in ‘Deadline’ magazine, the home of Hewlett’s ‘Tank Girl’ feature.

The second single by Blur, ‘There’s No Other Way’ (UK no. 8, US no. 82), follows on 15 April 1991.  It is cheerfully contagious.

The third single, the churning and roiling ‘Bang’ (UK no. 34), arrives on 26 July 1991.  The title comes from the expression, “Bang goes another day…year…etc.” in the lyrics.  With its view of the implacable passage of time, ‘Bang’ is darker than its predecessors.  “I don’t need anyone / But a little love / Would make things better,” it avers.

Blur’s debut album, ‘Leisure’ (1991) (UK no. 7), is issued on 26 August.  It is the first of six Blur albums (not counting compilations) on the Food Records label through EMI.  Production duties are divided amongst Steve Lovell, Steve Power (the duo who produced ‘She’s So High’), Stephen Street, Mike Thorne and Blur.  The cover photo is of a girl in a bathing cap who has a rather awkward smile on her face.  It is from a discarded advertising campaign for swimming caps.  This sort of ironic consumerism is a common feature of Blur’s artwork.  ‘Leisure’ includes the first three singles: ‘She’s So High’, ‘There’s No Other Way’ and ‘Bang’.  Also present is ‘Sing’.  This was first recorded as a demo late in 1989 by Seymour (Blur’s previous name) under the title ‘Sing (To Me)’.  ‘Sing’ gains a second life when it is included on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Trainspotting’ (1996).  Damon Albarn, Blur’s vocalist describes ‘Leisure’ as “awful”.  Critics view ‘Leisure’ as ‘clunky’ and ‘fitting neatly into the dying Manchester pop scene.’

In 1991 Damon Albarn begins a romantic relationship with Justine Frischmann.  She was a member of U.K. alt rock act Suede (in 1989-1991) and becomes part of Elastica (1992-2001), a fellow britpop act.  Around the same time, Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon begins dating Jane Oliver, Justine Frischmann’s best friend.  Oliver is sometimes referred to as a ‘founder’ of Elastica or a ‘silent member’ of Elastica but, officially, she is never part of Elastica.  There is something poetic about the almost brotherly Albarn and Coxon getting involved with Frischmann and her best friend, Oliver.

Blur sever their relationship with their first manager, Mike Collins, after ‘Leisure’.  Chris Morrison takes over the role of Blur’s manager in 1992.

Mike Collins left Blur in debt.  The somewhat questionable solution to this problem is for Blur to undertake a U.S. tour in 1992.  At the time, ‘grunge [rock] rules the airwaves so Americans don’t take much to Blur’ and their brand of music.  “We found ourselves touring round America to quite a notable level of indifference,” admits vocalist Damon Albarn.  “I missed everything about England so I started writing songs which created an English atmosphere,” says Albarn.  “My songwriting became a kind of imaginary England under the imminent influence of American mass culture,” he adds.  In other words, the U.S. tour could be considered the genesis of britpop.

The [non-album] single ‘Popscene’ (UK no. 32) is released by Blur on 30 March 1992.  This is a ‘snarling’ piece; ‘a brash, spiteful rocker driven by horns.’  With a reference to clones, it mocks a life lived “Again and again and again.”  “We felt ‘Popscene’ was a big departure,” says vocalist Damon Albarn.  “[It was] a very, very English record.”  Albarn later reflects, “If I could be Stalinist about it, Blur wouldn’t start until ‘Popscene’ and [Blur’s second full-length disc] ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ would be our first album.”  [‘Stalinist’ is a reference to Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union from 3 April 1922 to 16 October 1952.  ‘Stalin and his glorifiers rewrote Soviet history to provide the leader a more significant role in the October revolution of 1917’ that toppled the Russian monarchy.  Damon Albarn is jokingly (?) wishing he could rewrite Blur’s history in similar fashion to better suit himself.]

Blur begins work on their second album.  The sessions are produced by Andy Partridge of XTC, one of Graham Coxon’s favourite bands.  While this seems on paper like a great combination, ‘the relationship between Blur and Partridge quickly sours’ and the sessions are abandoned.

‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ (1992) (UK no. 15), Blur’s second album, is released on 10 May.  Production credit for the disc is divided between Blur, John Smith, Steve Lovell and Stephen Street.  The album’s first single, ‘For Tomorrow’ (UK no. 28), is one of the last recorded.  It was created to appease Food Records who felt the disc was lacking a hit single.  ‘For Tomorrow’ is a jauntily ironic sing-along full of “La la las” and a stammering guitar riff.  The spoken word outro, almost buried under honking brass, tells the tale of Jim and Susan and gives the album its title: “…Then he puts the TV on, turns it off and makes some tea, says, ‘Modern life is rubbish’…”  The second single, ‘Chemical World’ (UK no. 28), is also added at the request of a record company – but this time it is SBK, Blur’s U.S. label.  Given the song’s oh-so-English vocal and lyrics, the reaction of SBK can only be imagined.  ‘Chemical World’ has a rather cosmic sweep as it suggests, “In a chemical world, it’s very, very, very cheap” and talks of “putting holes in.”  ‘Sunday Sunday’ (UK no. 26) has vocalist Damon Albarn singing in a mock cockney accent of life on a Sunday, lovingly detailing the minutiae of, “The colour supplement, the TV guide.”  EMI Records (Food’s parent company) labels ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’ ‘too British-sounding.’  But it’s too late to stop the wave of britpop.  Damon Albarn is ‘now on a mission, deliberately trying to purge Blur’s music of any American influence.’

‘Parklife’ (1994) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 45), released on 25 April, is Blur’s ‘breakthrough album’ and their finest work.  The producers of the album are Stephen Street, Stephen Hague, John Smith and Blur.  Vocalist Damon Albarn states, “For me, ‘Parklife’ is a loosely linked concept album involving all these different stories.”  ‘Girls And Boys’ (UK no. 5, US no. 59, AUS no. 19) is an insanely catchy song about inanely acting people: “Streets like a jungle / So call the police / Follow the herd / Down to Greece / On holiday.”  It’s all summery hedonism.  ‘To The End’ (UK no. 16) is interspersed with a female voice speaking French, but Damon Albarn’s vocal notes, “All these dirty words / They make us look so dumb.”  The title track, ‘Parklife’ (UK no. 10) exhibits Blur’s ‘faux cockney’ and ‘geezerpop’ style at its most florid.  Although originally sung entirely by Damon Albarn, by the time it is released, the verses of ‘Parklife’ are spoken by actor Phil Daniels (perhaps best known for playing the lead character in the movie ‘Quadrophenia’ (1979) based on the 1975 concept album of the same name by U.K. rock band The Who).  In his best ‘Sarf London’ accent, Daniels intones, “John’s got brewer’s droop / He gets intimidated by the dirty pigeons / They love a bit of it.”  In such fashion, life – or ‘Parklife’ – is sketched out in the song and, by extension, on the album as a whole.  ‘End Of A Century’ (UK no. 19), in a bemused way, mines the same existential ennui as did ‘For Tomorrow’ (on Blur’s previous album).  The lyrics to ‘End Of A Century’ note, “Picking up the rubbish…And kiss with dry lips…It’s nothing special.”  The bleak ‘This Is A Low’ equates the ebb of tides and rivers with spiritual emptiness.  Years later, Damon Albarn remarks, “I love that song.  I’ve never been on stage with that song and felt it has let me down or I’ve let it down.  I’ve got a good relationship with that song.”  Although Albarn is Blur’s usual lyricist, bassist Alex James pens the lyrics for this album’s ‘Far Out’.  ‘Parklife’ represents Blur at their most potent and, arguably, is the highpoint of britpop (or, at least, Blur’s version of britpop).

By July 1994, Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon has split up with Jane Oliver.  She starts going out with Jamie Hewlett, the creator of ‘Tank Girl’.  Understandably, this puts an end to any mutual admiration between Coxon and Hewlett.

Speaking of Blur’s fortunes, Damon Albarn claims, “It all went sour for us after ‘Parklife’.”   This seems to be a bit of an exaggeration or, at best, a bit premature.

By 1995 Blur and Oasis are at odds.  From where did this animosity arise?  Blur’s Damon Albarn refers to bands being “competitive” by nature.  It’s true enough that Blur and Oasis are the leading lights in britpop.  There is another intriguing possibility.  It has been suggested that the true origin of the feud is that Damon Albarn slept with Lisa Moorish, an ex-girlfriend of Oasis’ lead vocalist Liam Gallagher.  Without confirming this tale, Albarn pointedly refuses to deny it.  Whatever its origins, the rivalry between the two bands exists.  Oasis dismisses Blur as purveyors of ‘chimney sweep music.’  [This is a reference to the film ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964) in which Dick Van Dyke plays a chimney sweep named Bert.  Van Dyke displays a highly suspect cockney accent in his performance.]  Alex James, Blur’s bassist notes, “We had to up the ante.  It was great – ‘Let’s have a record war!’”

And so it comes to pass that the latest singles by Blur and Oasis are released on the same day, 11 August 1995.  Oasis offers up ‘Roll With It’.  It is matched against ‘Country House’ (UK no. 1, AUS no. 28) by Blur.  Described as ‘Oasis-baiting’, there is a common perception that a member of Oasis is the subject of the song, but apparently it is actually directed at David Balfe of Food Records.  In the song, vocalist Damon Albarn chirps, “City dweller/ Successful fella…Now he lives in a house / A very big house in the country / Watching afternoon repeats / And the food he eats / In the country / He takes all manner of pills / And piles up analyst bills / In the country.”  All this untamed wit would just be so much gas without an attractive melody, but again Blur come up trumps in that department.  ‘Country House’ sees off ‘Roll With It’ ‘fairly convincingly’ and it appears Blur are the winners in their battle with Oasis.

Blur’s fourth album, ‘The Great Escape’ (1995) (UK no. 1, US no. 150, AUS no. 10), is released on 11 September.  The disc is produced by Stephen Street.  Blur’s bassist, Alex James, says of this album, “It was all more elaborate, more orchestral, more theatrical and the lyrics were even more twisted…it was all dysfunctional, misfit characters f***ing up.”  ‘The Great Escape’ includes the single ‘Country House’.  The album continues in the vein of britpop, reinforcing Blur’s debt to the stubbornly British bands of the mid-1960s like The Kinks and The Who.  Is it just coincidence that ‘The Universal’ (UK no. 5) shares its name with a song by The Small Faces from that earlier era?  In its wan and wandering way, ‘The Universal’ conjures up images like this: “And to karaoke songs / We like to sing along / Although the words are wrong.”  ‘Stereotypes’ (UK no. 7, AUS no. 95) is livelier with a staccato guitar riff and organ trills.  The sly and sexed-up lyrics refer to wife-swapping and decide, “There must be more to life” than stereotypes.  ‘Charmless Man’ (UK no. 5, AUS no. 35) is the equal of such eviscerating Kinks’ songs as ‘A Well Respected Man’: “Educated the expensive way / He knows his claret from his Beaujolais.”  The trilogy of ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, ‘Parklife’ and ‘The Great Escape’ constitute Blur’s britpop period.

Although ‘Country House’ by Blur may have commercially surpassed ‘Roll With It’ by Oasis, there is a view that Oasis’ album ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ (1995) ‘overshadows’ Blur’s ‘The Great Escape’.  The press turn against Blur, deriding them as an ‘inauthentic middle class pop band.’  It is true that the members of Oasis come from a more working-class background than the art students in Blur.  The dispute reaches a nadir with a comment from Noel Gallagher.  The brother of Oasis’ vocalist Liam Gallagher, Noel is the group’s lead guitarist and chief songwriter.  Noel tells Damon Albarn and Alex James of Blur to ‘catch AIDS and die.’  Realising he has gone too far, Noel later apologises, but the war is over.  Damon Albarn seems particularly bruised.  He retreats from the U.K. all together and seems to find some solace in Iceland.  Albarn spends most of the rest of the 1990s going back and forth between England and Iceland.  He owns a home in Grafarvogur, a suburb of Reykjavik, and becomes part-owner of Kaffibarinn, a bar in Iceland.

Blur’s drummer, Dave Rowntree, marries a Canadian-born woman named Paula in 1995.

By 1996, Blur’s bassist Alex James is romantically involved with Justine Andrews, who he describes as his ‘childhood sweetheart.’

Blur ‘nearly break up in 1996, but they instead decide to spend a year out of the spotlight.’

In 1996 Alex James is part of the ‘supergroup’ Me, Me, Me alongside Stephen Duffy, Justin Welch and Charlie Bloor.  They release the single ‘Hanging Around’.

When Blur returns, it is with their fifth album.  The self-titled ‘Blur’ (1997) (UK no. 1, US no. 61, AUS no. 22) is released on 10 February.  The disc is co-produced by Stephen Street and Blur.  The band leaves britpop behind and ‘switches to the raw, lo-fi energy of U.S. alternative rock.’  This happens largely through Damon Albarn taking a step back and guitarist Graham Coxon assuming more creative control.  ‘Beetlebum’ (UK no. 1, AUS no. 35) certainly boasts a more corrosive guitar sound than before, but it is still recognisable as Blur in its melody and lyrics.  The song is said to be about the experiences of Damon Albarn and his girlfriend Justine Frischmann with heroin.  Albarn affirms, “That song is absolutely about heroin and I was in the thralls of it.  That was 1997…The title comes from ‘chasing the beetle’ or smoking heroin on tinfoil.”  ‘Song 2’ (UK no. 2, US no. 55, AUS no. 4) is – unofficially – written by bassist Alex James and is a delightfully off-kilter mixture of The Muppets and heavy metal.  Graham Coxon praises it with the observation, “You can just jump up and down to it.”  Or, as Damon Albarn exclaims in the song, “Woo hoo!”  An honourable mention is due to the ricocheting ‘On Your Own’ (UK no. 5, AUS no. 69) for its keen-eyed view: “Well we all go happy day glow in the discos / The sound of magic music in our brains / Someone stumbles to the bathroom with the horrors / Says Lord give me time for I’ve jumped into space / I’m in outer space.”  ‘M.O.R.’ (UK no. 15, US no. 114, AUS no. 68) (for ‘middle of the road’ –as confirmed in the lyrics) borrows from David Bowie’s 1979 song ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, so Bowie and his collaborator Brian Eno get a co-writing credit for ‘M.O.R.’  The track clearly bears Bowie’s influence but is busier and bashes about a bit.  ‘You’re So Great’ is credited to Graham Coxon as sole author.

In 1997 Damon Albarn breaks up with Justine Frischmann after six years together.  Around the same time, Jamie Hewlett (of ‘Tank Girl’ fame) breaks up with Jane Oliver (who was formerly Graham Coxon’s girlfriend).  The two newly single guys share a flat in Westbourne Grove in London in 1997.  “Jamie [Hewlett] cured me of all my rock star pretensions,” says Albarn.  After watching too many music videos on MTV, Albarn and Hewlett come up with the idea for a ‘virtual band.’  It’s a concept that doesn’t bear fruit until a few years later…

The Stone Cold Strollers (1997-1998) is a side project for Blur bassist Alex James.  Working with Guy Pratt and Ed Shearmur, James contributes two songs on the soundtrack of the movie ‘Mojo’ (1998).  The film is about a rock ‘n’ roll singer and a nightclub owner.

Graham Coxon releases his first solo album, ‘The Sky Is Too High’ (1998) (UK no. 31), on 10 August.  It is a disc of ‘folk-inspired’ songs.

In 1998 Damon Albarn begins a romantic relationship with artist Suzi Winstanley.  The pair meets when they are both guests on Radio 4’s ‘Midweek’, hosted by Libby Purves.  On 2 October 1999 Damon Albarn and Suzi Winstanley become the parents of a daughter named Missy.

Fat Les (1998-2002) is a light-hearted project in which Blur bassist Alex James joins forces with actor Keith Allen and artist Damien Hirst.  They release the single ‘Vindaloo’ (UK no. 2) in 1998 for the British World Cup football [soccer] team.  In 2000 Fat Les offers ‘Jerusalem’, a single for England’s Euro 2000 team.

‘Ravenous’ (1999), released on 9 March, is a film soundtrack album co-credited to Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman.  The film is about a nineteenth century military outpost and a sadistic cannibal.  It stars Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle.

Blur’s sixth album is the ominously titled ‘13’ (1999) (UK no. 1, US no. 80, AUS no. 12), which comes out on 15 March.  The disc is produced by William Orbit.  The cover painting – a stylised nude male head and torso – is by Blur’s guitarist, Graham Coxon.  Many of the album’s lyrics reflect the time immediately following vocalist Damon Albarn’s split with girlfriend Justine Frischmann.  The lyrics to ‘Tender’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 32) are co-written by Albarn and Coxon.  This anthemic piece has a widescreen grandeur to it, with a mass chorus adding to its weary mantra of “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon / Get through it.”  Coxon provides both words and music for the album’s highlight, ‘Coffee And TV’ (UK no. 11).  This is Blur’s single best song with its insistently strummed guitar hook and its endearingly introverted words: “I’ve seen so much, I’m going blind / And braindead virtually / Sociability is hard enough for me.”  ‘No Distance Left To Run’ (UK no. 14) has a bald air of resignation: “it’s over / I knew it would end this way.”  Graham Coxon says of ‘13’, “It probably is our weakest album…but it’s a b****y good one!”

On 7 March 2000 Graham Coxon and his Swedish girlfriend Anna Norlander become the parents of a daughter named Pepper.

‘101 Reykjavik’ (2000), released on 1 June, is a film soundtrack co-credited to Damon Albarn and Einar Orn Benediktsson.  Albarn’s collaborator was a member of Icelandic rock band The Sugarcubes, whose female lead singer, Bjork, went on to successful solo career.  The film is a comedy/romance from Iceland.

Graham Coxon releases his second solo album, ‘The Golden D’ (2000) (UK no. 81) on 12 June.

‘The Best Of Blur’ (2000) (UK no. 3, US no. 186, AUS no. 23), issued on 30 October, marks the end of Blur’s tenure with the Food Records label.  As well as the expected hits, it includes the new disjointed dance music track ‘Music Is My Radar’ (UK no. 10).

Gorillaz is the ‘virtual band’ Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett have had gestating since 1998.  To the general public, Gorillaz has four members depicted in drawings and animation by Hewlett.  They are: 2D (vocals, keyboards), Noodle (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Murdoc Niccals (bass) and Russell Hobbs (drums).  In reality, the music of Gorillaz is the work of Albarn primarily with the assistance of a variety of extra musicians and guest vocalists.  Although Jamie Hewlett is the co-creator of the concept and handles the visuals, he is not involved in the music of Gorillaz beyond some general input on attitude and tone.  Although Gorillaz is considered a pop act or an alternative rock act, unlike Blur it encompasses elements of hip hop and rap as well.  The debut album for the project is ‘Gorillaz’ (2000) (UK no. 3, US no. 14, AUS no. 17), issued on 26 March.  It includes the singles ‘Clint Eastwood (featuring Del the Funky Homosapien)’ (UK no. 4, US no. 57, AUS no. 17), ’19-2000’ (UK no. 6, AUS no. 39), ‘Rock The House (featuring Del the Funky Homosapien)’ (UK no. 18) and ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ (UK no. 73).

Graham Coxon issues his third solo album, ‘Crow Sit On Blood Tree’ (2001) on 6 August.  It includes the single ‘Thank God For The Rain’ (UK no. 92).

In 2001 Graham Coxon breaks up with his girlfriend Anna Norlander due to his ‘battle with alcoholism.’

In November 2001 Graham Coxon leaves Blur.  “There were no rows,” he explains.  “[The band] just recognised the feeling that we needed some time apart.”  In the same month (November 2001), Coxon is admitted to the priory hospital for twenty-eight days to be treated for alcoholism.  Coxon tries to return to Blur in February 2002, but the band’s manager Chris Morrison asks Coxon to leave.  “The group didn’t want me to record for the ‘Think Tank’ album, so I took it as a sign to leave,” says Coxon.

Blur’s bassist Alex James splits up with his long-time girlfriend Justine Andrews in 2002.

In 2002 Blur releases a rare one-off promotional single called ‘Don’t Bomb When You’re The Bomb’.  This piece of electronic music is a protest against the war in Iraq at the time.

‘Mali Music’ (2002) (UK no. 81), released on 15 April, is an exercise in African sounds on which Damon Albarn is co-credited with Afel Bocoum, Toumani Diabate & Friends.

‘Laika Come Home’ (2002), issued in July, is a remix album credited to Spacemonkeyz Vs Gorillaz.  The title is a reference to Laika, a Russian dog, who in 1957 became the first canine in space during the Soviet space program’s tests preparatory to sending a human into space.  This disc includes the single ‘I’ll Dub Chiefin’’ (UK no. 73) by Gorillaz with Spacemonkeyz.

Former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon releases his fourth solo album, ‘The Kiss Of Morning’ (2002) (UK no. 126) on 21 October.  This includes the single ‘Escape Song’ (UK no. 96).

In April 2003, Blur’s bassist Alex James marries Claire Neate, a music video producer.  Alex and Claire go on to have five children – three boys and then two girls.  Their offspring are: Geronimo (born 16 February 2004); twins Artemis and Galileo (both born 28 April 2006); Sable (born 28 August 2008); and Beatrix (born December 2009).

‘Think Tank’ (2003) (UK no. 1, US no. 56, AUS no. 30), released on 5 May, is Blur’s first album on the Parlophone label.  Like Food, Parlophone is a subsidiary of EMI.  The disc is co-produced by Ben Hillier, Norman Cook (a.k.a. Fatboy Slim), William Orbit and Blur.  Minus guitarist Graham Coxon, Blur is reduced to a trio for ‘Think Tank’.  Vocalist Damon Albarn does most of the guitarwork on this album, though a variety of musicians are employed to flesh out the sound.  Although most of the songs on the disc are officially credited to the whole group, the album is said to be almost entirely written by Albarn.  Without Graham Coxon, “It was maybe more of my record than I wanted it to be,” says Albarn.  ‘Out Of Time’ (UK no. 5) is hollow, spare and ominous.  Its lyrics seem to be sketching out the life of a workaholic, an overly busy person.  ‘Crazy Beat’ (UK no. 18) is introduced by a treated vocal that sounds almost like a frog’s croak.  This weird voice recurs throughout the song.  ‘Crazy Beat’ is rather simple and comes across like a cousin to ‘Song 2’ as it thrashes about.  ‘Good Song’ (UK no. 22) has a thin guitar and a relaxed groove in which Albarn coos, “You seem very beautiful to me.”

After ‘Think Tank’, Blur disbands in 2003.

Damon Albarn, Blur’s ex-vocalist, moves on to a diverse series of projects.  First up is a solo EP entitled ‘Democrazy’ released on 8 December 2003.  Next is the second proper album from Gorillaz, his ‘virtual band’ with Jamie Hewlett.  ‘Demon Days’ (2005) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 15) spawns a number of popular singles: the ‘uptempo’ ‘Feel Good Inc. (Featuring De La Soul)’ (UK no. 2, US no. 14, AUS no. 3); the ‘warm electro-dance’ of ‘DARE (Featuring Shaun Ryder [from The Happy Mondays])’ (UK no. 1, US no. 87, AUS no. 11); ‘Dirty Harry (Featuring Bootie Brown)’ (UK no. 6, AUS no. 15); and ‘El Manana (Featuring Neneh Cherry)’ (UK no. 27, AUS no. 31).  ‘The Good, The Bad & The Queen’ (2007) (UK no. 2) is the name of an album by Damon Albarn, Tony Allen, Paul Simonon and Simon Tong.  Much to Albarn’s displeasure, the nameless quartet becomes known by the title of the album since the media have to call them something.  ‘Monkey: Journey To The West’ (2008), released on 12 August, is Damon Albarn’s opera soundtrack to a stage musical.

Graham Coxon, Blur’s ex-guitarist, releases his fifth solo album, ‘Happiness In Magazines’ (2004) (UK no. 19).  This disc includes the songs ‘Freakin’ Out’ (UK no. 37), ‘Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery’ (UK no. 22) and ‘Spectacular’ (UK no. 32).  Coxon’s first five solo albums were issued on his own label, Transcopic – which subsequently becomes defunct.  Also in 2004, Coxon is quoted as saying this about former colleague Damon Albarn: “I was dragged kicking and screaming all the way around the f***king world on someone else’s megalomaniacal trip.”  Coxon’s next solo album, ‘Love Travels At Illegal Speeds’ (2006) (UK no. 24), comes out on 13 March.  This set spawns the singles ‘Standing On My Own Again’ (UK no. 20) and ‘You & I’ (UK no. 39).  In 2006 Graham Coxon meets photographer Essy Syed.  She becomes his long-term romantic partner and the mother of Coxon’s second daughter, Dorelia (born 20 October 2012).  The one-off single ‘This Old Town’ (UK no. 34) in 2007 is co-credited to Graham Coxon and Paul Weller.  The latter was the leader of The Jam, one of the bands that inspired Coxon to get into music.  ‘This Old Town’ is the last of Graham Coxon’s singles away from Blur to reach the charts.

Alex James, Blur’s ex-bassist, does not release any solo albums.  He gets a pilot’s licence in the early 2000s but sells his plane to Blur’s former drummer Dave Rowntree.  Alex James partners Alison Clarkson (a.k.a. Betty Boo) in Wigwam (2005-2006), an act that releases only one single: ‘Wigwam’.  Alex James buys a two-hundred acre farm in the Cotswolds district of England.  From 7 January 2007, he becomes a presenter on the BBC Radio 4 program ‘On Your Farm’.  James becomes a cheesemaker on his farm.  Alex James’ autobiography ‘Bit of a Blur’ (2007) is published in June by Little, Brown & Company.  He also becomes a columnist for the U.K. newspaper ‘The Independent’, usually under the byline of ‘The Great Escape’.  Generally, Alex James becomes part of the British wealthy, upper class social set.

Dave Rowntree, Blur’s ex-drummer, keeps busy, but often in fields other than music.  An aviation enthusiast, Rowntree forms a band called The Ailerons with Mike Smith.  This begins in 2003 but they become largely inactive after 2007.  (Note: ailerons are the adjustable flaps near the tips of the wings of an aeroplane for balance and lateral control.)  Rowntree becomes a computer animator and creates his own company, Nanomation.  They are behind two seasons of ‘Empire Square’ which screen on Channel 4 beginning on 18 February 2005.  In a related field, Rowntree contributes to three research papers related to non-photorealistic rendering.  In 2006, Dave Rowntree trains to become a solicitor and is employed in the criminal department of Kingsley Napley, a firm of solicitors based in Farringdon, Central London.  Dave Rowntree becomes a presenter for Global Radio’s alternative rock station Radio X (United Kingdom).  By 2007 Rowntree is divorced from his wife Paula and in a romantic relationship with Michelle De Vries.  In 2007 Dave Rowntree runs as a Labour Party candidate for a Westminster Council seat, but is unsuccessful.  Rowntree stands as a Labour Party candidate again in 2008 and 2010 with similar results.  Dave Rowntree’s Labour Party politics contrast rather sharply with Alex James’ inclinations towards a more haughty social class.

On 9 December 2008 Damon Albarn reconciles with Graham Coxon.  This clears the way for the December 2008 announcement of a Blur reunion.  Two shows are announced for Hyde Park in London on 2-3 July 2009.

Before the Blur reunion, Graham Coxon issues another solo album, ‘The Spinning Top’ (2009) (UK no. 36), on 11 May.

A compilation album, ‘Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide To Blur’ (2009) (UK no. 20), is issued on 15 June.

Blur headline the Glastonbury Festival on 28 June 2009.

Next are the Blur shows at Hyde Park on 2-3 July 2009.  These performances are recorded for two live albums: ‘All The People: Blur Live At Hyde Park 02 July 2009’ (2009) (UK no. 70) and ‘All The People: Blur Live At Hyde Park 03 July 2009’ (2009) (UK no. 44).  Both discs are issued on 30 August.  (The title ‘All The People’ is a line from the song ‘Parklife’.)

Any thought that these reunions presage a full-scale return for Blur is quickly squelched.  The band has no intention to continue.  Damon Albarn says, “I just can’t do it anymore.”

The documentary about Blur, ‘No Distance Left to Run’ (2010), released in January, seems to put an end to their story.

It comes as something of a surprise when Blur releases a new single, ‘Fool’s Day’, on 17 April 2010.  When it fails to chart, it doesn’t augur well for any hopes for Blur’s future.

Damon Albarn reactivates Gorillaz for ‘Plastic Beach’ (2010) (UK no. 2, US no. 2, AUS no. 1), released on 8 March.  This album is home to ‘Stylo (Featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def)’ (US no. 103, AUS no. 48) and ‘On Melancholy Hill’ (UK no. 78, AUS no. 97).

Gorillaz releases another single in 2010, but it is not included on ‘Plastic Beach’.  This single is ‘Doncamatic (Featuring Daley)’ (UK no. 37, AUS no. 60).

Graham Coxon provides the soundtrack for the U.K. supernatural movie thriller ‘Curio’ (2010) in October.

Gorillaz bring out ‘The Fall’ (2011) (UK no. 12, US no. 24, AUS no. 41) on 19 April.  Unlike the previous discs by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s ‘virtual band’, ‘The Fall’ does not generate any hit singles.

Alex James writes a second autobiographical work.  ‘All Cheeses Great and Small: A Life Less Blurry’ (2011) is published in September.

‘Kinshasha One Two’ (2011), released on 3 October, is credited to DRC Music.  This is another of Damon Albarn’s ventures into African music in a similar manner to ‘Mali Music’ (2002).

Chris Morrison ceased to be Blur’s manager in 2011.  Niamh Byrne takes over the role.  She worked for Morrison up to 2006.

‘Rocket Juice & The Moon’ (2012) (UK no. 85), released on 26 March, is an album co-credited to Damon Albarn, Flea [the bassist from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers] and Tony Allen.

‘Dr Dee: An English Opera’ (2012), released on 7 May, is an album of folk renaissance music composed by Damon Albarn for a stage show.

On 2 July 2012 Blur releases a new single, ‘Under The Westway’ (UK no. 34).  This is a ghostly, yet orchestral, song.

‘21’ (2012) (UK no. 71) is a boxed set of Blur’s music to celebrate their twenty-first anniversary.  It is released on 30 July.  It contains remastered versions of the group’s seven albums plus four discs of rarities and three DVDs.  Among the rarities are various B sides of singles, the shelved recordings from the sessions produced by Andy Partridge, the demo version of ‘Parklife’ with Damon Albarn singing the parts performed by Phil Daniels on the finished version and the two recent singles: ‘Fool’s Day’ and ‘Under The Westway’.

‘Parklive’ (2012) (UK no. 91), issued on 13 August, is a live recording of Blur performing in Hyde Park as part of the closing ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

‘Maison Des Jeunes’ (2013), released on 9 December, is credited to Africa Express.  This is another example of Damon Albarn’s interest in African music.  The title of the album is borrowed from the (French) name of a youth club in Mali.

Damon Albarn finally records a full-fledged solo album.  ‘Everyday Robots’ (2014) (UK no. 2, US no. 32, AUS no. 26) is released on 28 April.  It is an ‘introspective and melancholy’ work.  When Albarn plays some solo shows, his backing band is called The Heavy Seas.

‘The Magic Whip’ (2015) (UK no. 1, US no. 56, AUS no. 30), released on 27 April, is the first all-new Blur album since ‘Think Tank’ (2003).  It is co-produced by Stephen Street, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn and is released on the Parlophone label.  The tracks are assembled from recordings laid down by the band in Hong Kong – hence the Chinese writing on the cover.  The neon ice cream on the cover is a reference to the track ‘Ice Cream Man’, about Chinese democracy protests.  Also tying into this theme is ‘There Are Too Many Of Us’, a song about overpopulation.  ‘Go Out’ (UK no. 182) has a hard, staccato bounce.  ‘Ong Ong’ is ‘the album’s only real obvious “pop” moment.’  ‘Lonesome Street’ (UK no. 151) is built on Graham Coxon’s scratchy rhythm guitar.  ‘I Broadcast’ is ‘ragged and bratty.’  ‘The Magic Whip’ is considered to be ‘just as good as patient fans had hoped.’

‘wonder.land’ (2015) is Damon Albarn’s July 2015 musical that is a modern take on Lewis Caroll’s children’s story ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1865).

Damon Albarn is awarded an O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to music.

So who won the battle of britpop between Blur and Oasis?  Does it really matter?  Both were great bands.  Blur’s best work was in the 1990s, with the three britpop albums – ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, ‘Parklife’ and ‘The Great Escape’ – perhaps making up the peak.  “Clearly, something resonates in those songs,” Damon Albarn admitted about the continuing interest in Blur’s mid-1990s works.  However, as he also noted, “Every album is something like a snapshot.  It only shows one moment in time.  It shows what we feel and think right at that point in time, nothing more and nothing less.”  ‘Blur’s albums were almost like a journey through British music itself.’  Blur ‘broke down the doors for a new generation of guitar bands that became labelled as britpop.’

Sources:

  1. ‘BBC Six O’clock News’ (U.K. television program, BBC Network) – presented by Martyn Lewis (August 1995) via 23 (below)
  2. ‘The History Of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 280, 281 ,282, 315
  3. wikipedia.org as at 20 March 2016
  4. ‘3862 Days: The Official History of Blur’ by Stuart Maconie (Virgin Publishing, 16 July 1999) via 9 (below)
  5. ‘Q’ (U.K. rock magazine) – ‘The 21 People Who Changed Music: Damon Albarn’ by Chris Heath (November 2007) (reproduced on vblurpage.com)
  6. Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 22 March 2016
  7. biography.com – ‘Graham Coxon’ – no author credited – as at 21 March 2016
  8. brainyquote.com as at 21 March 2016
  9. vblurpage.com by ‘Vekko’ as at 21 March 2016
  10. ‘Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘It’s All a Bit of a Blur’ by Alex James (26 May 2007) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
  11. googletranslate (google.com.au) as at 21 March 2016
  12. ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) –‘This Dysfunctional Family’ – Blur interview conducted by Paul Lester (25 April 2003) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
  13. allmusic.com – ‘Blur’ by Stephen Thomas Erlewine as at 21 March 2016
  14. Notable Names Database – nndb.com – as at 21 March 2016
  15. ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) –‘Blur: We Used to Take it in Turns to Punch Each Other’ – Blur interview conducted by Tim Jonze (31 July 2015) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
  16. ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) –‘The Great Escape’ – Graham Coxon interview conducted by John Robinson (1 May 2004) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
  17. ‘Melody Maker’ (U.K. rock newspaper) – ‘We Assumed We Were a Massive Cultural Force from Day One’ – Graham Coxon and Alex James interview conducted by Mark Beaumont (25 October 2000) (reproduced on vblurpage.com)
  18. metrolyrics.com as at 23 March 2016
  19. ‘The Best Of Blur’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (EMI Records Ltd., 2000) p. 15
  20. ‘Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia newspaper) – ’21 Years On, Blur Think Big Inside the Box’ – review of ‘21’ by Cameron Adams (2 August 2012) p. 48
  21. whosdatedwho.com as at 21 March 2016
  22. ‘Select’ (U.K. rock magazine) – ‘Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur’ interview conducted by Alex Kadis (July 1994) (reproduced on douban.com)
  23. ‘The Feed’ (Australian television program, SBS2 Network) – Damon Albarn interview conducted by Marc Fennell (29 July 2015)
  24. ‘New Musical Express’ (U.K. rock newspaper) – ‘A Shite Sports Car and a Punk Reincarnation’ – Damon Albarn interview conducted by John Harris (10 April 1993) via 3 (above)
  25. ’21: The Box’ – Sleeve notes by Damon Albarn (EMI Records, 2012) via 20 (above)
  26. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 191
  27. ‘New Musical Express’ (U.K. rock newspaper) – Damon Albarn quote (1994) via 3 (above)
  28. ‘Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia newspaper) – ‘Future Blurred’- Damon Albarn interview conducted by Cameron Adams (1 May 2014) p. 39
  29. ‘Britpop! Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock’ by John Harris (Da Capo Press, 2004) p. 223-224 via 3 (above)
  30. ‘Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Ice Cool Iceland, the Latest Hotspot’ by Michael Hanlon (19 August 2002) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
  31. ‘The Life of Blur’ by Martin Power (Omnibus Press, 2013) via books.google.com.au
  32. pinterest.com.pin/523262050424588646 – Alex James + Justine Andrews 1996
  33. allmusic.com – ‘Gorillaz’ by Heather Phares as at 25 March 2016
  34. ‘The Fly’ (U.K. rock magazine) – ‘Graham Coxon Explains Blur Split’ – Graham Coxon interview – author unknown (May 2009) via 3 (above)
  35. ‘The Australian Contemporary Dictionary’ – Editor: J.B. Foreman, M.A. (Collins Books, 1959) p. 18
  36. ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) –‘From Blur to Blair’ – Dave Rowntree interview conducted by Patrick Barkham (13 April 2007) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
  37. ‘Q’ (U.K. rock magazine) – Damon Albarn quote (2009) via 3 (above)
  38. ‘Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia newspaper) – review of ‘Parklive’ by Neala Johnson (6 December 2012) p. 48
  39. ‘Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia newspaper) – ‘Damon Goes It Alone’ – review of ‘Everyday Robots’ by Cameron Adams (24 April 2014) p. 44
  40. ‘Herald Sun’ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia newspaper) ‘- The Boys Are Back in Town’, review of ‘The Magic Whip’ by Cameron Adams (23 April 2015) p. 40
  41. goodreads.com as at 21 March 2016
  42. lyricsfreak.com as at 8 September 2014

 

Song lyrics copyright EMI Music Publishing with the exceptions of: ‘Bang’, ‘Popscene’ ‘Chemical World’, ‘Stereotypes’ (all EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music Inc.);  ‘For Tomorrow’ and ‘On Your Own’ (both EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group); ‘The Universal’ (EMI Music Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd, Universal Music Publishing Group); ‘M.O.R.’ (EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group); and ‘Good Song’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.)

Last revised 5 April 2016

 

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