Never Clever

“Popscene” is often called Blur’s great lost single. I will deal with the song itself later, but it’s necessary for some context here. In short: it was released in early ’92, flopped, the album it was supposed to be on got scrapped and, to punish the audience, the band has refused to release it on any Blur compilation since, despite it being on nearly every one of their setlists.

The second single that was supposed to be lifted from the legendary lost album was “Never Clever”, but after life, alcohol and an unsympathetic record company getting in the way it was scrapped. Since then it’s been released in a shambolic live version, recorded at Glastonbury ’92, as a b-side to “Chemical World”, while a more polished studio version was included on the Food Records anniversary album Food 100. In other words, “Never Clever” has been treated with far more discourtesy than it ever deserved.

In many ways “Never Clever” makes the perfect bridge between Leisure and the band’s more mature work that would follow; the drumming is reminiscent of the earlier Madchester-influences, but they’re played with an aggression that was never really there before, unless you go back to those pre-Blur days of Seymour. The almost-a-guitar-solo middle-8 with its backing vocals also wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Leisure, but the band are much more tight. Damon’s abilities as a writer of lyrics, in the meantime, had obviously improved, and are a logical continuation thematically of what had already been written about on “Popscene”: loss of identity in being compliant.

The live version adds some mild cursing and screaming, and Damon’s assessment, “well, that was good”. It certainly was.

Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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