Repetition

Alex doesn’t like this one, but this track off Leisure deserves at least some recognition for preceding the current cowbell fashion, popularised by one Timbaland on the likes of Justin Timberlakes “SexyBack”, by some fifteen years. Maybe even more, as “Repetition” was already in the band’s sets during the Seymour days. Not much else is too notable about the song, or it should be the contrast between the light verses with some interesting guitar work and the slightly plodding chorus, which Billy Corgan may or may not have nicked from for the Smashing Pumpkins song “Try, Try, Try”. Presumably not, but the guy was so short on good ideas around the turn of the century he could have been desperate. Come to think of it, I think I have heard this song’s opening guitar notes in an earlier Pumpkins song too.

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Published in: on August 15, 2008 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment  

She’s So High

Early in 1995 I decided I needed to learn to play the guitar. From my dad’s dusty bookshelves I grabbed a book of chords, and from my own CD-rack the booklets from the Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife albums. “End Of A Century” didn’t sound too difficult. It was. “No problem”, I thought, and tried “Advert”, which only had a few easy chords. Dreadful. Frustrated I began strumming away some random chords, and before I knew it I was playing “She’s So High”, the band’s first single from 1990. I imagine that’s kind of how the band came up with the song, and the lyrics.

Still, it may not have been “Bohemian Rhapsody”, but something was undeniably catchy so it was decided that this should be the song to introduce Blur to the children of the world. Alas, hardly anyone bought it at the time (least of all the children of the world who were in thrall of New Kids On The Block and Milli Vanilli), something not even a small riot caused by feminists over the supposedly sexist imagery on the sleeve could do anything about. Maybe they should’ve brought their boyfriends along.

Apart from being the band’s first official release, “She’s So High” also functioned as the opening track of Leisure, and several alternate (live) takes have been released over time, amongst them an excellent session version recorded at the BBC in 1990 and available on one of the “Music Is My Radar” CD-singles.

Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Birthday

obsolete bridge syndrome:

  1. Phrase meant to describe Dutch habit of spending years building constructions only to disregard them as soon as they’re ready for use.
  2. Different bit added somewhere in the middle of a song that has absolutely no function whatsoever apart from harming the overall quality of said song. Example: Tori Amos’ “Girl”.

“Birthday” is an exceptional song in many ways. With the possible exception of “Sing”, none of the other songs on Leisure sound anything like it. Secondly, the heads of Food Records actually liked it. Thirdly, it sounds remarkably quiet. Had it been recorded in the past ten years surely all dynamics would’ve been squashed out of it so that people can listen to it properly in their car.

The music reflects the lonely lyrics that are slightly on the wrong side of self-pitying. Maybe it was the hangover; legend has it the song was written after a wild night out after which Graham woke up in bed with a friend and his lady, Alex in a different town altogether, and Damon in jail. But really, we’ve all had to spend a birthday or two in the presence of a bottle of vodka and absolutely nobody to have a laugh with. Get over it.

But why that fucking loud part some two and a half minutes into the song? Is it to make it sound more like “Wear Me Down” or something?

Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Bad Day

At one point this attempt at a Beatles song as played by My Bloody Valentine was considered for release as a single, but in the end the honour went to “There’s No Other Way”, and taking into account that song’s chart performance it probably was a good choice. Nonetheless, “Bad Day” has the word “hit” written all over it; relentlessly melodic, good to dance to and easy to sing along with, baggy drums, wahwah guitars, organs and a melodica to add a little colour. It’s difficult to imagine Leisure without it (though it’s even harder to imagine the album without “Sing”, and that didn’t stop the Americans from dropping the record’s one undisputed masterpiece in favour of the vastly inferior “I Know”… but I’ll bitch about that at a later date).

In 1991, a “Leisurely Mix” was released on a rare 12″ promo that nowadays costs a lot more than it’s worth.

Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bang

As in “to start with a…”. Yes, very clever for the first post 😉

For the past fifteen years this song has been known as the shit third single, and although it’s hardly “This Is A Low”, that judgement is a bit unfair. Some of Alex’ more inventive bass-playing can be heard on this, and, not unimportant for a pop song, it’s catchy as hell; one listen will guarantee a lifetime of fun randomly singing the lines “I don’t need anyone, but a little love would make things better”.

Before it was released as a single Damon too was full of good things to say about “There’s No Other Way”‘s follow-up as a single: “Bang” is “noisier, there’s a lot more in it … I’m happier with it as a record”, though this may be attributed to the long-standing tradition that a musician’s latest song is always his best to date, even if it isn’t. To paraphrase David Bowie: lying is part and parcel of what an artist does.

There are several objects and concepts the “SDT” from the first line can be an abreviation for, from “Signal Detection Theory” to “Special and Differential Treatment”, or maybe “Small Design Toilet”. The latter certainly makes the most sense, since it’s quite difficult to imagine anyone sitting in the former two options. It certainly puts a whole new perspective on the titular “Bang”.

The single made it to #24 in the UK charts, which was a considerable failure after “There’s No Other Way” making it into the Top 10, and it wasn’t included on the band’s 2000 Best Of Blur compilation.

Published in: on May 31, 2007 at 12:56 pm  Comments (2)