M.O.R.

When Vox Magazine reviewed Blur as the record began hitting the stores they noted that David Bowie’s sollicitors might want to listen to “M.O.R.”, as the song had previously been employed as “Boys Keep Swinging”. Not long after, the song’s credits had the names of Bowie and Brian Eno added to them. Fair enough. The two songs do have a thing or two in common.

Lyrically, “M.O.R.” appears to deal with Blur’s career trajectory, while also being a statement of intent. Yes, their edge had been missing a bit in recent times, but this time around they’re taking no prisoners. Getting the popular vote doesn’t weigh up to artistic intents. “Fall into fashion, fall out again”, Damon sings before blatantly claiming that they “stick together, cos it never ends”. Really?

For the video four stuntmen would be wearing masks of the band’s faces while doing all sorts of dangerous shit on fast vehicles. Unfortunately, it turned out the masks looked nothing like any of the bandmembers and instead the stuntmen did their tricks with balaclava’s over their faces. We know they’re supposed to be the bandmembers because of the nifty anagrams we’ve been given at the start of the video: Morgan C Hoax, Lee Jaxsam, Trevor Dewane, and Dan Abnormal (of The Great Escape and Elastica fame).

Two different versions of the track were released for the UK and US singles, confusingly both called “Road Version”. The American one is the faster one used in the video, while the UK got something not too far removed from what was already on the album. It was, at number 15, the band’s lowest charting single in their home country since “End Of A Century” three years earlier, and wasn’t included on The Best Of (although a live version was on the not so limited edition’s CD2).

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Published in: on May 13, 2008 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  

You’re So Great

One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever had about Blur was about “You’re So Great”, essentially Graham’s first solo song (it really wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Graham’s excellent The Sky Is Too High). A friend of mine, a casual fan, saw this as ultimate proof that the band didn’t give a shit about their fans, claiming “they could’ve bothered recording it properly!”. I tried explaining that the fact that it sounds like mixing this song meant soaking the tapes in a large vat of vodka for a month complements “You’re So Great”, a song about friends pulling eachother through hard times. Alas, there’s no convincing some people.

Graham sings “tea, tea and coffee” in the second verse by the way, and not “DT and coffee” (and he’d save “TV and coffee” for the next record).

Published in: on August 9, 2007 at 11:42 am  Comments (16)  

Country Sad Ballad Man

Blur may have been a radical departure, but the sequencing of the album really suggests that while the band wanted to “scare small children”, they didn’t want to scare them too much too quickly. “Beetlebum”, which had been released as a single before the album arrived, may have had a different sound, but it was essentially a well-written pop song. “Song 2”, loud in a “muppets doing Nirvana” way (copyright Vox Magazine), could’ve been the token loud song (see also “Globe Alone” and “Bank Holiday”).

“Country Sad Ballad Man”, with its badly recorded drums, rediculous falsettoing Damon, acoustic guitars, ploinks and weird sounds, is where the fun really begins. It appears to be another song about retreating after spending too much time in the spotlights, with a protagonist who doesn’t sound even remotely sorry about losing touch with his friends (“forgot their numbers”): he’s got more important things to worry about. Or not worry about. He sounds slightly numb, despite describing himself as a blizzard on the comeback road. Coming back to what?

All the same, it had been a while since the band sounded so laid back on a record, and while this may have been the moment some of the fans they’d picked up during the previous years started to get frightened, for the rest of us it was positively refreshing. The front row would never have no pubes again, to paraphrase an Alex James joke. We’ve got Gorillaz for that.

A lovely acoustic version was released as an extra track when “Song 2” came out as a single.

Published in: on July 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interlude

Well, my Saturday morning wasn’t quite as relaxing as I’d hoped on Friday. My laptop broke down. Okay, actually, I knocked the screen’s lights out in frustration about a broken power supply cable. After I’d decided to empty my iPod so I could refill it with higher bitrated songs. So it’s pretty empty now, and the only Blur album that actually made it before the crash is the self-titled one. As I always have a little listen to the songs when I write these pieces that leaves me little to write about now. Hopefully I can sort something out tonight.

“Interlude” (the title is officially confirmed by a US promo) closes Blur, following hot (well, okay, lukewarm) on the heels of “Essex Dogs”. To me this instrumental that fades in and out in under two minutes always sounded as a sort of coda to “Strange News From Another Star”, but on closer listening the two songs have very little in common, an echo effect on the keyboards excluded. It’s all a bit repetative. Still, it’s nice to know it’s got a title and can now be separated from “Essex Dogs” so it’s got its own place on my iBaby. Empty as she may be.

Published in: on July 2, 2007 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Death Of A Party

If the songs on The Great Escape were thematically linked by a feeling of loneliness, many of those on the bands’ fifth album, Blur, share a sense of lethargy. In fact, one only needs to look at the title or the booklet; the previous three had not only included the lyrics and nice artwork, but even the chords to close to all the songs. This time around, a couple of pictures of the band in the studio were deemed sufficient; no need for anything else.

At the heart of the album that was considered a huge break with the past is a song ironically written and demoed as early as 1992. In the context of Blur it sounds like they’re saying goodbye to the “Britpop” party, but it had been written before said party had ever started.

The demo version was the first release for the song, as a fanclub single in 1996. It features slightly different lyrics, but the structure, melodies and a big part of the arrangements were already fully formed.

The weary, tired, and lazy attitude to much of Blur is perfectly expressed in this song’s chorus:

Another night, and I thought “well, well”.

The music complements the music perfectly, with a lazy sounding organ part, guitar noise and the simplest of riffs during the chorus, set to a heavy and slow groove that’s not too common among their songs. In fact, just listening to it as I write this is making me long for a little nap (as opposed to jumping around to the faster songs or wandering through the city or countryside for the sad ones).

The wonderful original was remixed about a billion times for Bustin’+ Dronin’ and the odd promo. Why did they bother?

Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 2:24 pm  Comments (2)