Friday, April 13, 2007

Rarities #17: Blur: The Best Of (2000)

One of the biggest bands in the UK in the past decade, Blur decided to compile their singles in this Best Of collection, spawning the career from debut album Leisure to 13. This collection is a good reminder of how good Blur was, and might still be today, if they had not gone into a hiatus since their 2003 album, Think Tank.

From Leisure, we have She's So High and There's No Other Way, while For Tomorrow is the sole track here from their second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish. Third album, Parklife, contributed four singles: the title track, Girls And Boys, To The End and End Of A Century.

By the time their fourth album, The Great Escape, hit the stands, Blur was embroiled in a very public competition with Oasis. First single, Country House, was released on the same day as Oasis' Roll With It. Even though the former outsold the latter and hit #1 on the singles chart, as did the album, Blur ultimately lost the war and Oasis became the biggest band in the world by the end of 1995. However, the album did spawn another two hits - The Universal and Charmless Man.

For their next album, the self-titled Blur, they decided to reinvent themselves and the change in musical direction was apparent in their first single, Beetlebum. They ditched their pop happy formula and took on a darker and grungier sound. Second single, appropriately titled Song 2, becmae another massive hit and became a jam band staple. Third single, On Your Own, is included in this collection as well.

After this album, Blur parted ways with longtime producer Stephen Street and William Orbit came on board. Orbit is most famous for his work with Madonna and All Saints and he brought his electronic beats along. As a result, their next album, 13, took on a new direction as well.

First single, Tender, was a most un-Blur song, largely dominated by a gospel hook. Two more hits were culled from the album - Coffee And TV and No Distance Left To Run.

By the time they convened together for this compilation, Blur's musical direction had taken yet another turn. The result is Music Is My Radar, an almost tuneless song characterised by its interesting bassline. Another track, This Is A Low, was recorded specially for this compilation as well.

Personally, I feel that this is a very good collection of songs from Blur and it is good proof why Blur was once the biggest band in the UK. Their early hits were fun and raw, and had the energy of a young band taking on the world with no regard for competition or pressures.

Their later hits became less radio friendly and more experimental but I like those songs as well. The Universal and Tender might sound boring at first, but they really grow on you after a while.I will even say that Music Is My Radar is one of their best tracks.

In fact, their next album after this compilation, Think Tank, is even more experimental and I love the single Out Of Time too.

Well, Blur has gone into hiatus and frontman Damon Albarn has kept himself busy with a few side projects. Besides releasing solo albums, he also found success with Gorillaz and more recently, The Good, The Bad And The Queen. His talent knows no bounds.

There's talk that Blur might regroup in the future. It will be interesting to hear what their sound will be like after all these years. Oasis is still going strong and their core sound hasn't changed much. Maybe we can expect Battle Of Britpop Part II next time.

This special limited edition contains a bonus CD of 10 live tracks, a good companion to the album. Blur is pretty good live as well. Good for you if you have a copy of this edition.


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