Ranking every album from Britpop boys Blur
They were known for being involved in the chart battle of the 90s with Oasis. There was much more however to Blur, becoming one of the most innovative bands of their era.
Led the way by frontman Damon Albarn who would go on to work with countless artists from countless genres. With that in mind I thought it would be a good idea to rank the 8 studio albums of Blur. From the baggy, shoegaze style at the start, through the Britpop years, the lo fi change in direction and the surprise comeback album in 2015.
8) Leisure (1991)
Thirty years have passed since the release of their debut album.
1990 was the time of baggy, shoegaze music and this album seemed to fit that mold.
For me though that was the problem. Although the album has some strong songs it seems to be by a band trying to find their true identity.
There are some strong points though with the radio friendly “There’s No Other Way” and the epic “Sing”.
7) The Great Escape (1995)
Released a year after the era defining “Parklife” this was the third in series of Britpop style albums. It’s one of the poppiest albums they’ve made but I think it’s the weakest of the 3 Britpop style albums in respect how it’s aged.
The album does have some stellar moments though. “The Universal” is a bona fide classic, “Best Days” is utterly charming and I strongly advise you look for the MTV performance of this track on YouTube. “Charmless Man” and “Stereotypes” prove the ability of Damon to tell a story with lyrics.
6) Think Tank (2003)
It’s a beautiful album but this was also released at the time when there was disharmony amongst the band and it would be an album overall lacking the Coxon influence.
That being it’s a beautifully produced record and there are some amazing tracks on there. “Out Of Time” is up there with one of their strongest ever singles and “Battery In Your Leg” is epic.
5) The Magic Whip (2015)
The Surprise album of 2015. It came out of nowhere and it was superb. 12 years after Think Tank and 16 years after the last Coxon influenced album all the boys were back together.
It’s also the most Britpop sounding album since “The Great Escape” “Lonesome Street” wouldn’t sound out of place on “Parklife” and “Go Out” is superb in its weirdness. The video taught me how to make ice cream too. A great album.
4) Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993)
The start of the Britpop trilogy and Damon’s tales of London life.
“For Tomorrow” starts the album with Damon lamenting about modern life. “Sunday Sunday” couldn’t be more British if it tried with tales of Sunday supplements and tv guides and the video depicting the traditions of Sunday roast.
My favourite is “Oily Water” and it’s probably the most rocky tune on the album. The outro is genius. It’s hard to fathom now when you look back at this how close Blur were to being dropped by their record label.
3) Parklife (1994)
A bit low I hear you say?
I loved Britpop Blur but from a personal point of view I was always a bigger fan when they changed direction.
The second of the “Britpop trilogy of albums” this was also the most commercially successful of the three.
The title track with Quadrophenia’s Phil Daniels on vocals is a mainstream classic with tales of being on the dole. He gets up when he wants on Wednesday. “Girls and Boys” sings about the beauty of a club 18-30 holiday.
Highlights for me on this classic though are the beautiful “To The End” and “This Is A Low”.
2) 13 (1999)
The most experimental album in their arsenal.
With William Orbit at the reigns this is a million miles away from their tales or sugary tea and package holidays.
“Tender” kicks off the album with Damon singing about love. If you think the song couldn’t get any better the sound of Graham singing “Oh My Baby” really tugs on the heartstrings.
“Battle” was made to be listened on headphones while drifting away. ” No Distance Left To Run” sings of lost love and one of my favourite tracks ever appears on this album. “Trimm Trabb” sings of sedated solitude.
1) Blur (1997)
“You’re So Great And I Love You”
The change in direction that was so badly needed at this point in Blurs career and they delivered.
You could describe this album as lo fi but there is still clarity in its production.
“Beetlebum” which became the bands second number 1 single allegedly refers to heroin abuse and the lows it brings. “Country Sad Ballad Man” has beauty is in melancholy.
However amongst the melancholy there is also optimism. ” On Your Own” is joyous and who hasn’t sung “Woohoo” to “Song 2”
A joy from start to finish.
Words by Lee Bellfield
Born in Manchester, live now around Heaton Moor. A football, boxing and snooker fan and support Manchester City(even before the glory days)
A big fan of gigs, music and all that come with it. I used to write for a boxing website and have previously worked for Music Zone, a job that involved listening to new releases, speaking to labels and keeping the schedule updated.