Friday, June 29, 2007

Underrated albums #7: Blur " The Great Escape" (1995)

Blur's fourth album was released in 1995. The follow-up to their UK commercial breakthrough, it has become the most disputed album of the seven in their career. Much of that is due to an over-discussed battle with another band, which has overshadowed it. So, that's all I'll say about that part of the equation, and at most, just review it in on it's own, or at least, as part of the Blur back catalogue.

The Great Escape is the third and final part of what is effectively a trilogy, the other two preceeding albums being, of course, Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife. Whilst Modern Life... had been conceived by a band who were seen as has-beens, the huge success of Parklife had made the band massive stars, now just as likely to be seen in teen magazines as in the music press. Given that there was just fifteen months between the third and fourth albums, maybe it seemed rushed. Granted there are a couple of tracks that might have been better as b-sides 'Topman' and 'Dan Abnormal', but then you can't have it all.

There were four UK hit singles off the album, 'Country House' being the band's first number one, and 'The Universal, 'Stereotypes' and 'Charmless man.' Even to those who hadn't heard the album, the knees-up 'Country House' was wildly different from the snarling 'Stereotypes' which might even have worked on the fifth album, while 'Charmless Man' showed that Pulp were not the only ones doing singalong social commentary. However 'The Universal' was utterly sublime, the sound of a band reaching for the stars.

There were also amazing album tracks, of which two 'He Thought Of Cars' and 'Yuko and Hiro' are included below. Blur might also have been the first band to work the word 'Quango' into a pop song as well.

And of course, the next album was a complete departure. Blur deserve to be seen as the British Band of the Nineties, and this album is just as much as part of that claim as any of the others.

Forget the historical over-analysis and enjoy for what they are. Presenting four cuts from Blur's most under-rated album:

Blur-'Charmless Man.' mp3

Blur-'The Universal.' mp3

Blur-'He Thought Of Cars.' mp3

Blur-'Yuko and Hiro.' mp3

As always, these will be up for one week only.

Buy The Great Escape here


Iain said...

The Great Escape is a strange album for me. I always enjoy it, but there is something just not right with it. It is very strangely produced....glossy, ever-so-slightly synthetic. And some of the songs are a bit annoying, like Top Man and Mr Robinsons Quango. Still, i keep coming back to it cos it came at a fascinting time for Blur and for Britpop.

Ed said...

It is very glossy, which is kind of odd, considering it was produced by Stephen Street who produced their first five albums.

I still wonder if it might have benefited from being intended for vinyl, in which case it might have lost two or three tracks. Ah well, I still stand by this album.

JC said...

Not sure if it has worn all that well.....but worth picking up from a bargain bin for 'The Universal' if nothing else.