Jul 13

BLUR – “Country House”

FT + Popular189 comments • 13,795 views

#725, 26th August 1995

Blur-Country-House-54546 BOXING?

A “heavyweight battle”, the NME cover-billed it. And if “Country House” vs Oasis’ “Roll With It” was a title bout, the music press were desperate to play Frank Warren.

Perhaps they had most at stake. It was, in a way, their last great fight. Many other moments define Oasis. Blur are best remembered for different songs. Britpop itself? Well, this was the high tide – probably the main reason Oasis even count – and the rivalry became an ongoing, rather tiresome, pop storyline for years after. But even then the battle is just one of a scrapbook of memories: Britpop had to be a thing already for this tussle to even matter.

The press, though – this is the climax of its 80s and 90s story, its turn away from other music to keep the indie flame burning, and how it saw its favourites gradually win over first the radio establishment, then a wider public. And look – here they are! Top of the charts, ma! Whoever wins, we won, is the NME’s message, but in that final ridiculous week the story had outgrown them. After Britpop, readers dwindled, and no new story emerged: the price of ‘we won’ turned out to be that there wasn’t a “we” anymore.


The run-in, as I recall it. Oasis, releasing their second album, were a coronation away from being the biggest band in the country. Blur, veterans on their fourth, were returning conquerors, Parklife having defined them (and their genre) in the record-buying eye. Singles release dates at first didn’t sync, then did. Alan McGee at Creation refused to blink. The nation held its breath – or ignored all this entirely.

But just as Cup Finals and Playoffs can be disappointing, cagey affairs, so the Battle Of Britpop played out more warily than it might have. Oasis, it would become apparent, had left commercially far stronger singles than “Roll With It” on the bench – the track doesn’t even show up on their Noel-picked Greatest Hits. Blur didn’t – there are better songs on The Great Escape than this, but “Country House” is one of the few that gets in your face enough to do this job.


It’s also a honking, parping pantomime. Both bands played up to their image: if you’d written the whole thing as a TV drama and had to fake up convincing singles, you might have ended up with songs rather like “Country House” and “Roll With It”. Blur could be tough to pin down, but “Country House” gave the public more of what they’d already rewarded from the group – uptempo, brash songs with a bit of satire on top. It’s a bustling, dense song – fun-packed and glassy-eyed, with desperation never far away: that niggling two-note phrase cycling under the final choruses, for instance. It pushes catchiness into exhaustion, mirroring the breakdown of its lead character. My first thought is it’s trying too hard, then I realise that’s the point, then I think it’s trying too hard to make that the point. Then I want it to stop. Then I end up playing it again. The grotesque, much pilloried video only adds to the headaches. Modern life is, as they say, rubbish. But were Blur – was this whole stunt? – criticising it, reflecting it, or making it worse?


In the context of The Great Escape, Country House fits nicely: the album is full of brittle people, awful lives, and melancholy just under the skin. It’s an honest taster – as is “Roll With It”: Oasis at this point met expectations, good and bad. These singles were advertising more than just their LPs, though. To the new establishment at Radio 1 – who grabbed the Britpop battle baton enthusiastically from the NME et al – they were a vindication of controller Matthew Bannister’s brutal repositioning.

Bannister inherited a station listened to by about 20 million people, but the audience skewed too old – his vision, backed up by multiple moody, black-and-white promo vids, was of a station where credible presenters would play credible music to a credible audience. It’s a vision that’s endured ever since – shifting Radio 1’s role away from mirror of pop and towards its mentor. In 1995, though, with ratings collapsed and tabloids circling, Bannister needed a win: the Britpop battle gave him one, putting the spotlight on exactly the music his ideal audience segment loved.

In a sense he was lucky, but the showdown couldn’t even have happened a few years prior. “Chart battles” – we’ll see a fair few more – were a creature of the new age of first-week sales spikes: the winner was guaranteed a number one. If this was, as some said, the first time in ages the charts had mattered, they were mattering in quite new ways.


The retro angle is something of a red herring in the music, too. Blur had influences, as obvious as their rivals’ – the “Country House” lytic is Kinksy, there’s plenty of Langer and Winstanley’s 80s sound in the horns, other tracks on the album nodded to Numan and XTC – but neither they or Oasis ever really sounded like anyone but themselves. As with Oasis, the voice played a huge part: Albarn’s distinctive, stylised singing could flip from naughty choirboy to music-hall rabble rouser with ease, but whoever he played you could spot him immediately (“..inna cun-TREE” could be nobody else). Most of his styles, to be honest, set my teeth on edge: there’s an ironic, above-it-all veneer to his vocals which seemed to begin as strategy on their early records and settle into habit. If I often end up buying Albarn’s melancholy anyway, it’s because he can be a great melodist, not really because of his singing or delivery.


On “Country House”, Albarn’s not really trying to be sensitive – it’s one of his occasional character songs, indulging a taste for social observation. It’s about a guy retreating to the country because he’s going through some kind of crisis and either having or faking a breakdown – but the music does a much better job of capturing this chap than the words. Take, for instance, the Balzac/Prozac bit. It was approvingly quoted, apparently evidence Blur were The Clever Ones in this schoolyard swots v jocks fight – but it feels very rhyme-first, with “Woah, it’s the century’s remedy” clunking in to hammer home how zeitgeisty Blur are being. An unfair comparison perhaps, but on “Sunny Afternoon” Ray Davies becomes his character and the music becomes his world, and so the listener gets inside it too. The geezer in “Country House” is caricature – the one stab at any kind of inner life that mocking “I am so sad, I don’t know why” refrain.

(Meanwhile, over on the other channel, Noel’s “I think I’m gonna take me away and hide / I’m thinking things that I just can’t abide” is a good summary of depressive self-hatred. Liam then sings it in the same surly monotone the rest of “Roll With It” stews in.)

So there’s no empathy in “Country House”, just observation, and bald observation at that. Just as on “Parklife” and much of “Girls And Boys”, Albarn does comic journalism, not storytelling: he’s the Peter York of pop, the songwriting equivalent of jokey pen-portraits of “social tribes” in a Sunday supplement. If the bands’ backgrounds made it easier to overlay unhelpful North v South, Working v Middle Class conflicts on Oasis v Blur, this kind of thing helped the charges linger.


Both singles are rescued by their guitarists. Where on “Some Might Say”, Liam bossed the song, he’s flatter on “Roll With It” and the wall of sound has to put in serious work to stop the song becoming a complete trudge. On “Country House”, meanwhile, Graham Coxon puts down a delightful Christ-Are-Pavement-Hiring? guitar solo that’s as endearing as the rest of the track put together.


The standard anti-Britpop line – the what about Goldie argument, you might call it – hardened quickly during 1995. Why were we paying attention to this charade when there was so much more interesting things happening? How could these throwbacks represent the real, multicultural Britain? I subscribed to this thinking myself, and the “Battle” fuelled it – on paper the idea of Britain’s indie bands straining muscle and sinew to create amazing pop singles was seductive, but if these two weakling, just-about-OK records were the result, the idea was a bust.

Since then I’ve softened. For one thing both “Country House” and “Roll With It” sound a bit better than they did. But also the effects on British indie music, let alone British pop, weren’t nearly as deadening as they seemed at the time. This isn’t as good as Britpop got, but it was as big as Britpop got as a pop event. The noise died down and the charts went on their merry – and increasingly diverse – way.


So who won? Oasis won the war and conquered the country. The NME won a last chance to set the agenda. Radio 1 won time to finish its credibility revolution. Graham Coxon, as it later turned out, won a musical argument. And Blur won the Battle of Britpop. Which was just about fair, because of all the records by all the big Britpop bands, none strained so hard to sound like Britpop as “Country House”.



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  1. 91
    Chelovek na lune on 8 Jul 2013 #

    #89 A slight aside, but I have a feeling that “Suedehead” may have been the final EMI single distributed by Woolworths for quite some time afterwards – there was some dispute between the two companies, I can’t recall the details, but which meant that for the rest of 88, and I think 89, and I think later still, any singles on EMI labels were missing from the otherwise excellently comprehensive Top 75 singles racks sold in most branches. (All of things very much in the past now…)

  2. 92
    MichaelH on 8 Jul 2013 #

    Really, my thoughts on this are just an addendum to the Some Might Say debate. The record itself left me rather cold (as did most of The Great Escape; one thing I couldn’t abide on that record, and which most irritated me about Blur’s first few records, was the sneery, patronising attitude to its subjects. Albarn – like Weller and Davies and great swathes of “classic London rock songwriters” – seemed duty bound to portray any white collar commuters as wretches trapped in their pathetic lives. Hang on, pal, that’s my dad you’re talking about).

    But Country House v Roll With It was the hubris moment for “indie” (already by now a meaningless term) or “alternative music”. Here was the confirmation that it needn’t just be big business, it could be the biggest business of all. And here was born, perhaps, the logic of throwing “indie” bands at the wall with the promise they would be the biggest bands in Britain, and when that wasn’t achieved within 10 minutes they were dropped unceremoniously 10 minutes later (in a sense, that – rather than the awful music – was Viva Brother’s truest homage to Britpop’s Met Bar phase).

  3. 93
    Patrick Mexico on 8 Jul 2013 #

    With the misanthropists of British pop, it’s always the Londoners – or to be exact, the South Easterners isn’t it? In fact, Albarn and Weller apparently grew up themselves in “commuterville” (others’ words, not mine, I’d never judge anywhere without visiting – Colchester, Woking or Nagorno-Karabakh) and couldn’t wait to get out. I have little time for North v South, barmcakes versus jellied eels tedium – I come from Lancashire (the proper, rural part with witch trials and other quirky tedium) and there are great pros and cons like everywhere else, but it’s not somewhere I ever could write a defiant “Sweet Home Alabama” anthem about.

    I used to think the above “cruel” songwriting happened down South more because of social trends from the pace of the Industrial Revolution, which meant Northerners and (industrialised) Midlanders met and interacted with scores of people on a daily basis in the mills, factories and mines – whereas in-migration to London happened earlier from the rural South (and back outwards again into the Home Counties throughout the 20th century, i.e. Albarn’s family uprooted from bohemian London to almost rural Essex) – and “non-Southerners” were better equipped to work out how to use humour and “banter” reciprocally and know the line between “banter” and bullying or bigotry.

    But that’s probably a load of rose-tinted cobblers. Plus, though Stuart Maconie, pointed out (rightly) there’s something wrong when London celebrates Jack the Ripper or the Kray twins more than the
    Cable Street anti-fascist marchers or Bryant and May match girls, he’s one of very, very few professional Northerners I actually like – can’t stand all that sentimental Tetley Tea Folk/Philomena Cunk image.

    As someone too young to remember them in their “prime”, did Swindon’s favourite sons XTC win the charm offensive – i.e. were they seen as more charming or offensive? Were they seen as celebrating small towns, suburbia, rural England, etcetera in a friendly, knowing way or being similarly “cruel” to Damon Albarn?

  4. 94
    Tom on 8 Jul 2013 #

    XTC had some really venomous songs about suburbia – there’s no character song in the Blur catalogue as angry as “No Thugs In Our House” – but no, I don’t think they were ever cruel, and if they never quite warmed to the commuter belt they were often positively fond of ordinary lives and towns – “Red Brick Dream” is particularly lovely, and by the end of his songwriting career Colin Moulding seemed to sing about little but sheds.

    Blur’s digs at commuters are particularly vexing when you listen to “Yuko And Hiro” – once Damon exoticises the white-collar worker and make him a salaryman then OF COURSE he deserves a tender treatment.

  5. 95
    Tom on 8 Jul 2013 #

    Not that I think, as a white-collar worker myself, that we are the hidden heroes of history, deserving of sung immortality – as MichaelH says the issue is the automatic assumption they must be living lives of secret agony, hidden perversion, “quiet desperation” et al. Sometimes a hobbit-hole is just a hobbit-hole.

  6. 96
    Auntie Beryl once more on 8 Jul 2013 #

    There was a theory that “Yuko and Hiro” was about Damon and Justine. It’s plausible given timescales.

  7. 97
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 9 Jul 2013 #

    No doubt there are people in London who celebrate the Krays and the Ripper more than they do Cable Street or the Matchgirls — but vice versa also, actually, and it’s not as if the former have blue plaques on their houses or official parades dedicated to them. It’s less than a hundred years since London was the largest city in the world: it’s still in the top 25. It really does contain multitudes, for good or bad. It also contains a very very large number of people who aren’t actually Londoners (I’ve lived here 30 years and I’m not sure I’m one yet). So I’m not really sure what “London celebrates such-and-such” actually means.

    I heart Mark E. Smith but I think he’s crueller than anyone we’ve mentioned on this thread.

  8. 98
    Ed on 9 Jul 2013 #

    @92 Never listened to Jam lyrics very closely, but I think Patrick put his finger on it @93 with his point about commuterville. Weller’s not sneering at life “in the city”: it’s a place for drama and excitement.

    And on Ray Davies, MichaelH, you are just dead wrong. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ makes London office workers going out on Friday night sound like the most glamorous and romantic people in the world. Which they are.

  9. 99
    wichita lineman on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Re 97: MES, at his peak anyway, got away with it because he was sharp, didn’t use broad brush strokes, and was funnier than Albarn, Partridge, Davies or Weller. Which doesn’t mean he’s a better songwriter, but it’s why I think his put downs on, say, English Scheme don’t come across as sneery, patronising or defensive.

    And yes, of course you’re right about Londoners. I notice the Richardsons’ pub in St Helier has been demolished and is now houses – I’m glad this can’t have been much of a news story.

  10. 100
    punctum on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #98: Expressions like “you are just dead wrong” when applied to someone else’s subjective opinion are unhelpful. Please try to move forward, beyond “right” and “wrong.”

    “Waterloo Sunset” is really about the protagonist. That’s what makes it such a worrying song.

  11. 101
    lex on 9 Jul 2013 #

    I missed this debate at the time, maybe for the best. Loathed both bands already at the time and these songs are dreadful even by their rock bottom standards. Tom is being rather charitable attributing it to playing up to the pantomime, it’s just self-parody with no self-awareness (or not enough). Damon Albarn’s sneery vowels set my teeth on edge, Liam Gallagher’s neanderthal whine sets my teeth on edge, I don’t think I can think of a pair of pop vocalists more punchable.

    The pantomime itself was grotesque. I don’t buy that it’s a net positive when the charts get into the national conversation. I feel a bit like I do when I see everyone talking about Wimbledon, it’s like you know this stuff happens ALL YEAR and is often a lot better? If the national conversation only pays attention to the charts when it’s sodding Blur vs Oasis why would I place any import on the national conversation?

    Zero out of ten to both these songs and everything associated with them and with Britpop. Worthless cultural scum.

  12. 102
    Ed on 9 Jul 2013 #

    @100 – I agree it’s about the protagonist, but that is part of what is so lovely and generous about it. He’s distant, and alone, but he can still share the vision of heaven that is Friday night for Terry and Julie and the rest of them.

    It always reminds me of this, possibly also in the protagonist’s line of sight, the morning after:

    Earth has not anything to show more fair:
    Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
    A sight so touching in its majesty:
    This City now doth like a garment wear

    The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
    Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
    Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
    All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

    Never did sun more beautifully steep
    In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
    Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

    The river glideth at his own sweet will:
    Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
    And all that mighty heart is lying still!

  13. 103
    punctum on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Ah, Wordsworth. Afraid I incline more towards Blake’s visions of Westminster Bridge.

    But the song is still disturbing. Why is he there and why he is alone – why, indeed, does he “need no friends”? Did they all get killed in one war or another?

  14. 104
    Garry on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Britpop was the first thing I was aware of – and definitely the first Indie sounds I knew. Whereas I understood the boy bands and soul/r’n’b of the early Nineties were a movement of sorts, it was BritPop starting with Parklife which was on my TV in country New South Wales. And Oasis was the only other band I knew were BritPop – I’d never heard Suede and the rest.

    As other have mentioned, Blur’s ability to reinvent themselves several times, and Albarn’s musical wanderings gave them a better subsequent career by a mile. All I heard of Oasis after Roll With It was a track the local radio called Bonking In The Bushes, a couple of dry later albums, their love of Manchester City (apparently) and their sibling rivaly.

    If there was a war which they won it was Gallagher v Gallagher rather than Albarn v Coxon. For me this is because Coxon was given front and centre of the next blur album, had his own solo experimental (and eventually pop indie) career, plus a sad story of his personal circumstances/addictions. And finally the mostly Coxon-less Thinktank is a bloody good album. In retrospect it was proven Coxon and Albarn didn’t need each other even if they worked wonderfully together for many years.

    Whereas Gallagher v Gallagher was treated as more of a soapie drama, at least how it was reported in Australia. This is what Oasis became remembered for later, not the music. So I agree Oasis won the immediate war but couldn’t follow it up. Blur’s Song 2 meanwhile appeared everywhere… (And didn’t us announcers use it endlessly to time up to the news on our student radio station. What fun days.)

  15. 105
    Ed on 9 Jul 2013 #

    @103 – You sent me googling for the Blake:

    I wander through each chartered street,
        Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
    A mark in every face I meet,
        Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

    In every cry of every man,
        In every infant’s cry of fear,
    In every voice, in every ban,
        The mind-forged manacles I hear:

    How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
        Every blackening church appals,
    And the hapless soldier’s sigh
        Runs in blood down palace-walls.

    But most, through midnight streets I hear
        How the youthful harlot’s curse
    Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
        And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

    Now I really can’t imagine Ray Davies singing that.

    Nick Cave, maybe….

  16. 106
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Yes, a hundred years *before* London was the largest city in the world, Blake could still write “the fields of Islington and Marybone”

  17. 107
    Tom on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #105 Richard Ashcroft actually DID sing bits of it – he nicked the opening lines for The Verve’s “History” (one of the only songs of theirs I like)

  18. 108
    Cumbrian on 9 Jul 2013 #

    “I am not going to tell you the real reason why because there are other people involved in the real reason why we fell out so, sort of, publicly.” Damon Albarn speaking on “Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Britpop” – 2003.

    I have always found the above quote intriguing, particularly given that the way that Damon actually says the words in the documentary is farily vehement. I don’t think I have seen anything denying the story that Noel has produced on numerous occasions, about how Blur moved their single date to clash with Oasis and how Oasis decided not to budge (indeed, in the same documentary, Noel ascribes the whole thing as a fit up between Blur and the NME, so that the latter could sell more papers covering the “Battle of Britpop” – probably just paranoia, I’d say but I am sure that there are people on this site who would have a lot more insight on that than me). Liam had made typically un-pc comments about Justine Frischmann (Justine of course could stand up for herself, and did so in print). Did Damon decide to give Oasis a bloody nose as a result of this? I guess it’s perfectly possible – but without digging into the above quote with Damon, I don’t know whether it’s possible to get to the truth of the motivations behind this little incident in chart history. Clearly something had gone on between the two bands though – it would be only a few short weeks after this #1 that Noel gave the most horrific interview to Miranda Sawyer – wishing AIDS on both Damon and Alex.

    Country House is, marginally, the better of the two songs to my ears, probably because of the sense of difference between sections (bringing in the big brass at the end, the blow me out section, etc), rather than grinding away in the same fashion a la Roll With It. The video is pretty horrible though – but I think it might be intended to be. It’s a throwback to a load of 70s tropes by the looks of things (playing board games – not computer games, Benny Hill being the height of comedy – despite the depressingly misogynist view of women, even the “blow, blow me out section” is a rip off of the Bohemian Rhapsody video) and it might well be a subtle reminder from Blur and Damien Hirst that the past was not always all that glorious, despite the fetish for all things retro that was taking hold.

    Damon has said that TGE was a bad album. I was of a similar view until I went back and listened to it all the way through recently. I don’t think I agree with him but I can see why he might think that. The overwhelming feeling I had listening to it is one of unease. It’s all a bit queasy, particularly on Best Days and Fade Away. Even Stereotypes, Charmless Man and Country House – they strike me as being about there being something not quite right under the perfect exterior. Basically, I think TGE is a good marker of where Damon was at the time and is perhaps not as bad as he might think (maybe it’s his On The Beach). Not particularly enjoying himself, but trapped into giving the public another Parklife. The idea that Graham Coxon seized control of the band after this might be accurate in some senses, but it doesn’t half sound like Damon is ready for something different.

  19. 109
    Steve Williams on 9 Jul 2013 #

    The mention of this getting on The Six O’Clock News earlier in these comments is an important one because it certainly seemed very important at the time. In fact Stuart Maconie later said that Cool Britannia and Britpop’s pomp began at 6pm on Monday 14th August 1995 with that news report and ended at 10pm on Wednesday 26th June 1996 when Gareth Southgate missed his penalty.

    That was also the week, on the Wednesday, of Britpop Now, the BBC2 special featuring performances from The Four Main Indie Bands, as Harry Hill had it, minus Oasis, and a bunch of less familiar faces like Marion and Salad. That also seemed very exciting at the time but given it was at 7pm on BBC2 on an August Wednesday in one of the hottest summers ever, I doubt it made much of an impact among the general public.

    Oasis’ non-appearance on Britpop Now, together with the fact Blur did Country House on Top of the Pops first, led to someone writing into the Radio Times to complain about the BBC being biased, as if it were a General Election.

  20. 110
    James BC on 9 Jul 2013 #

    I don’t know early Blur very well. Was the theme of escaping always present, or did it start with Parklife (Tracy Jacks, Magic America) and then Country House and the rest of the Great Escape?

    I remember Britpop Now. Damon in tweed, Gene failing to stand out as usual and Jarvis taking flight and managing to stay in shot while the camera panned around the room. How did he do that?

  21. 111
    Ed on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #109 – I was a minor functionary in BBC News at the time, and I remember days of agonised debate about whether it was a story we should be covering or not. The DG may have been consulted.

    It was for that story, or another piece on Britpop around that time, that I was dispatched to interview Alan McGee for clips to be cut into a package. My attempted icebreaker was to tell him how excited I was to meet him, because I was a huge My Bloody Valentine fan. The interview did not go well.

  22. 112
    anto on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #110 – There were themes of discontent and escape already present on “Modern Life is Rubbish”. The first three songs on that album all refer to a need to break from routine in some way, then there is a track like “Star-Shaped” where the narrator is an alcoholic going through the denial phase. “Chemical World” actually refers to escaping to the country as well.
    I’ve come to think of “Modern Life..” as their best album really. I don’t know if it seemed novel in 1993, but it was certainly contrary.

  23. 113
    Tom on 9 Jul 2013 #

    In 1993 I loved the idea of MLIR, really liked “For Tomorrow”, my friends and I all bought copies (and recreated the inner sleeve in a photo on a trip down to London) but I ended up playing it a lot less than I hoped I would, and in my memory it sits as something of a disappointment – and when they came back with another great first single I didn’t buy the album, for fear of being conned again. Obviously I ended up hearing it everywhere anyway.

  24. 114
    weej on 9 Jul 2013 #

    The discontent and lust for escape came to a head on St Louis – a b-side to Charmless Man b-side where you can almost physically feel the group are about to shatter into fragments from disillusionment and sheer fatigue from being on the road too long. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFNojHXtPK8

    #112 – agreed that MLIR is their best album, it has this sense of longing and sadness that was increasingly papered over in later LPs. Remember also that it was recorded when Balfe rejected their already recorded second LP for lacking singles – you can hear what it would’ve sounded like from the surviving tracks – Oily Water and Miss America – and various other b-sides.

  25. 115
    MichaelH on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #111 McGee, though clean by this point, could be a very contrary interviewee. I did him for the New Statesman in the summer of 96, and began by asking about the Legend! and the Bodines, which tickled him no end. “It’s been fucking years since anyone even mentioned the Bodines to me!” Calling out to his PR person – “Hey! Andy! You were right! He remembers the fucking Bodines!” He then proceeded to talk very frankly about his own – and everyone else on Creation’s – drug problems. A few days later, Sam Taylor of Esquire was thrown out of the Creation offices for asking about the drugs. I think his behaviour towards interviewers was almost on a whim.

  26. 116
    Conrad on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Remember reading Damon was having panic attacks a lot at the time, and wonder whether that affected the writing on Great Escape. Country House sounds like an aural interpretation of a panic attack to me. I was having a few at the time too, so took more of an interest than normal in Albarn’s interviews.

    The very 60s descending bassline is pure These Boots… and the Stones’ 19th Nervous Breakdown.

    Can’t agree that MLIR is Blur’s best album. I find it a monumental bore, For Tomorrow apart – and even that goes on far too long.

    And yes Girls in Boys is Blur’s best single, by some distance.

  27. 117
    James BC on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #105 You can sing that to the tune of Jerusalem. He must’ve liked the meter.

  28. 118
    Izzy on 9 Jul 2013 #

    Parklife is clearly their best album – mostly good songs, a few classics, great look and it created and captured a moment. The Great Escape is pretty good and the others have their moments, but as a whole they don’t really come close.

  29. 119
    23 Daves on 9 Jul 2013 #

    #108 – Hmmm. I remember a piece of Popbitch gossip years ago suggesting that it had something to do with a lady who *wasn’t* Justine who both Liam and Damon had an interest in, but like all pieces of vague Popbitch gossip that shouldn’t necessarily be taken seriously. But as the groupie-shagging habits of both were extremely well known at the time, I suppose it’s plausible they had mutual female acquaintances who created some kind of jealousy along the way.

    Whatever, the actual truth of the matter has obviously never fully come to light, and I have to wonder if it ever will. For both Liam and Damon to keep their traps shut about it for over fifteen years, it must be a bit complicated. Or perhaps it really was as simple as Liam screeching “NUMBER ONE!” in Damon’s face in some pub and him deciding to get the upper hand.

  30. 120
    pink chamaple on 9 Jul 2013 #

    I read an interview with Damon a few years ago where he claimed that he and Liam had actually always got on quite well, and all the problems had been with Noel. Not sure how true that is though.

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