Blur (formed 1988)
Blur is an English alternative pop band. They rose to fame in the 1990s when the UK music press created the 'Britpop' phenomenon. The lineup of the band consists of Damon Albarn (vocals), Dave Rowntree (drums), Graham Coxon (guitar) and Alex James (bass).
The Early Years: Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn were childhood friends and met Alex James at Goldsmiths College in London. Damon was already in a group named Circus, which also featured Dave on drums. The band recruited Graham and Alex and later re-named themselves Seymour. The name came from Seymour: An Introduction, by JD Salinger.
Seymour's debut gig was in the summer of 1989. An A&R man from Food Records, Andy Ross, was interested in the band, but the label disliked the band's name. Eventually, Food signed the band when the name was changed to Blur.
Blur toured the UK for four months in 1990, showcasing new songs and supporting The Cramps. In October that year, their debut single 'She's So High' was released and reached number 48 in the UK singles chart.
Rise To Success: Blur's trouble in creating a follow-up single to 'She's So High' ended when they paired up with a producer named Stephen Street. 'There's No Other Way' was the band's next single and reached number eight in the UK charts.
Blur's debut album Leisure was release in 1991 and reached number seven in the UK album chart, though it's critical reviews received a mixed response.
Finding themselves £60,000 in debt, Blur embarked on a 1992 tour of the USA, dubbed the Rollercoaster tour. At the start of the tour, they released 'Popscene', which became a pivotal point for the band, even though it only reached 32 in the charts.
Upon their return from the USA, Blur found that the band Suede had achieved a great deal of popularity since they had been away. Determined not to be outdone, and aware that his band was on the verge of being dropped by Food Records, Damon Albarn insisted on enlisting Andy Partridge of XTC to produce their next album. The sessions were a failure and the band was once again united with Stephen Street.
The resulting recordings became the band's second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, released in December 1992. The lead single was 'For Tomorrow'. The album peaked at number 15 in the UK.
Blur's third album, Parklife became another turning point for the band. The debuts single from Parklife 'Girls & Boys' was a commercial radio hit. The album debuted at number one and remained in the charts for 90 weeks. Around this time, the UK music press had created a new phenomenon they named Britpop - a backlash to the American grunge bands that had dominated for so long. Other bands included under the Britpop umbrella included Elastica, Pulp, Sleeper and Menswear. Blur won four awards at the 1995 BRIT awards.
The press also created a rivalry between Blur and Oasis when the release of Blur's 'Country House' and Oasis' 'Roll With It' singles coincided. 'Country House' became Blur's first number one single; the first to be released from their fourth album The Great Escape. The album also went straight to number one. Though the press was initially rapturous about the release, the tide of opinion soon changed and Blur were publicly ridiculed. Relations within the band became strained.
Blur decamped to Iceland to record to the follow up to The Great Escape. The next album, entitled Blur, was released in February 1997. The debut single was 'Beetlebum', which went to number one in the UK. Likewise, its follow-up, 'Song 2' was also a hit. A collection of remixes by the likes of William Orbit and Thurston Moore, named Bustin' + Dronin' was released for the Japanese market.
In August 1998, Graham Coxon released his debut solo album The Sky Is Too High as the band prepared to record their next studio album. Blur's 13 was produced by William Orbit and was a further step away from the Britpop sound. The lyrics reflected on Damon's split from his girlfriend, Elastica's Justine Frischmann. The single 'Coffee + TV' was the first Blur single to feature vocals by Graham Coxon.
Following the release of 13, Damon formed Gorillaz with Jamie Hewlett, Graham continued to make solo albums and Alex co-wrote songs with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Marianne Faithfull and worked with Fat Les (featuring Keith Allen).
Whilst relations in the band continued to disintegrate, they worked on the next album, Think Tank, with DJ Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) as producer. Coxon was eventually asked to leave the band. The album was released in 2003 and Simon Tong of The Verve was hired as the touring guitarist.
Blur announced a reunion late in 2008 and in summer 2009, the band played at the Glastonbury Festival, two sold out gigs at Hyde Park, London as well as the T in the Park Festival in July.
13 was released on this day (March 15th) in 1999.
It's been 20 years since Britpop extraordinaires Blur unveiled their Mercury Prize nominated sixth album 13; a record which was very different sonically and thematically from their previous work, but nonetheless became their fourth consecutive number one album in the UK upon its release.
13 saw a strong departure from their initial Britpop sound with William Orbit (Madonna, Beth Orton) taking over from previous producer Stephen Street. This time they took on a more alternative rock direction with pronounced electronic tones.
Continue reading: Album Of The Week: The 20th Anniversary Of Blur's Experimental Album 13
Chloe Dobinson recaps her favourite albums of 2015
10. Drake - If You're Reading This Then You're Too Late
Making an impromptu release of his 4th studio album Drake made a return proving why he is one of the most in demand rappers. Highlights of the album include opening track Legend -which features a long instrumental introduction with background vocals giving a harmonic feel to the track. Track Energy sees keys help make the track come alive with the Canadian rapper pushing himself as an artist and pushing the boundaries in the rap industry.
9. The Libertines - Anthems for Doomed Youth
Released in September The Libertines marked a return to the music scene following their 2004 self-titled album. A decade on the band proves their songwriting skills never went away with tracks such Gunga Din a racous, fun indie track making fans of The Libertines feels as if they never went away. Athems for Doomed Youth is a softer album from a band who is constanlty in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Heart of the Matter is a highlight of the album catchy, light and will become a firm favorite when the band play summer festival next year.
Continue reading: Chloe Dobinson's Top 10 Albums Of 2015
With ‘No Distance Left To Run’, Damon Albarn was ‘Out Of Time’ on Saturday evening.
Blur frontman Damon Albarn just didn’t know when to call it a night on Saturday evening and ending up being carried from the stage after playing a five-hour set. Albarn embarked on the lengthly set at Denmark’s Roskilde festival, where he was appearing with his Africa Express side project, which also features Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
At 4am festival organisers came onstage to ask Albarn to put an end the show, with the Blur frontman refusing to stop the party. Taking a microphone Albarn told the audience, : "F--k what everyone says. You want more, we're going to give you more." Before encouraging the crowd to chant ‘more’.
Frontman Damon Albarn even handed out ice creams to the crowd, as Phil Daniels made a surprise appearance.
Blur showed they haven't missed a beat since their BritPop heyday on Saturday night when they played a hit packed set at the BST festival in London’s Hyde Park. The gig began with singer Damon Albarn handing out ice cream cones to fans in the front row, in celebration of the band’s comeback album The Magic Whip.
The band opened their set with ‘Go Out’ from their latest record, with Albarn telling the crowd, "Let's have it.” "Thanks so much for coming back to see us again," the singer added later. "It's great to be back in Hyde Park. It's like home - well, it is home really. I love it here. I really love it here.”
Continue reading: Blur Prove They're Well And Truly Back With Hit Packed BST Hyde Park Set
By Jim Pusey in Music Reviews on 16 June 2015
It's perhaps fitting that my prevailing memory of this year's Isle of Wight Festival will be guitars. This was after all the 45th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's legendary performance on the Island, something that was being widely celebrated by festival organiser John Giddings and his team across the site. Fender, for example, brought some specially designed guitars to the party for artists including You Me At 6 to play, and there was also a world record attempt for the most number of people in one place to be wearing a mask, the face in question was naturally Hendrix himself. Despite that backdrop, it was some of the guitarists who played across the weekend that demonstrated the power of the instrument and reinforced that guitar based rock isn't on its last legs as some have speculated over the past few years.
The first moment that sent a shiver down my spine this year was the Counting Crows though. The guitar line to 'Round Here' sent a wave of excitement across the main arena. It was a strong opening statement in a nine song set that featured the likes of 'Mr Jones', 'Miami', and 'Rain King' into which singer Adam Duritz dropped some Elbow lyrics as a nod of the hat to Guy Garvey. If Counting Crows' guitars weren't haunting enough, it was actually The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach whose riffs were the most powerful and elemental of the day. The dirty Blues grit of Auerbach's playing was like a roll of thunder that saw the heavens open to drench the crowd in torrential rain. While much of the set was dedicated to material culled from 'El Camino' and 'Brothers', rather than recent record 'Turn Blue', the band's graduation to a headlining slot was well deserved and warranted. The final song of the set 'Little Black Submarines', which builds from a delicate solo performance to a dramatic climax, utilised every trick in the book for The Black Keys' expanded touring band. If Patrick Carney's drums and Auerbach's guitars are the perfect union on record, it seems their live shows rightly now have the power to command top billing with the inclusion of bassist Richard Swift and keyboardist John Clement Wood.
Continue reading: Isle Of Wight Festival - 2015 Live Review
The IoW organisers attempted to break the world record for most masks worn simultaneously at one place to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Hendrix's set.
Amid the fun of four massive headliners over three nights – The Black Keys and The Prodigy sharing the slot on Friday, Blur on Saturday and Fleetwood Mac on Sunday – the IoW chiefs had been encouraging the 50,000 festival-goers to buy cut-out Jimi Hendrix masks in order raise money for its nominated charity WellChild.
Viewers loved the return of Chris Evans’ chat show, although Lewis Hamilton put some to sleep.
'TFI Friday’s' 20th anniversary special proved a smash hit for Channel 4 yesterday evening (June 12th) pulling in a massive 4.3 million viewers. Host Chris Evans returned for the one-off special episode, with guests including Jeremy Clarkson, Blur and Lewis Hamilton.
The show was on such a roll that Channel 4 even gave it an extra 15 minutes after it ran over its allocated time slot. Chris Evans certainly seemed to enjoy his time hosting the show again, tweeting, "Did that really happen last night ? My wife has the MOTHER of all hangovers - hilarious,” on Saturday morning.
Continue reading: 'TFI Friday' Special Comeback Episode Is A Ratings Hit For Channel Four
Blur had to temporarily halt their show in Blackpool.
Blur's gig at Blackpool's Empress Ballroom had to be halted on Wednesday when the front barrier separating the crowd from the stage gave way. The collapse, triggered by a mosh pit, occurred during the evening's second song, There's No Other Way.
Singer Damon Albarn stopped the song and asked fans to take a step backwards. He explained that the barrier was faulty and that safety had to come first - however, after another attempt to restart the song the band left the stage altogether.
Continue reading: Blur Halt Blackpool Gig After Barrier Gives Way During Mosh Pit
We preview some of the top acts on the bill this year.
Summer festival season kicks into high gear this weekend with the first big event of the calendar taking place on the south coast. Tens of thousands of people will be heading to Seaclose Park on the Isle of Wight for a bill, which is top heavy on heritage acts that bring with them a sense of nostalgia. While recent years have welcomed the likes of Jay-Z, Calvin Harris and Kings Of Leon to headline, this time round it seems big names with an even bigger back catalogue are being used as the main attraction.
Continue reading: Blur's Alex James Hopes Oasis Get Back Together: "They Can Support Us"