When examining the history of the Britpop movement, one of the biggest names in the bunch is Blur, who - although they never managed to make it as big in the U.S. as they did in the U.K. - remain full-fledged musical icons throughout Europe. But while many people may know their singles, not nearly as many are familiar with their albums as a whole, which is why we’ve gone through the band’s discography and pulled out a top album track from each of their eight LPs to spotlight how good they are even beyond the music that you hear on the radio.
“Fool” (from Leisure, 1991)
When reflecting on the band’s back catalog and how much their sound changed over the course of time, this is generally the song from their debut album that’s referenced as a sign of things to come, which is to say that - unlike most every other song on Leisure - it doesn’t immediately scream either “Madchester” or “Baggy movement.” For those of you unfamiliar with either of those terms, just trust us when we tell you that this is a good thing.
“Advert” (from Modern Life is Rubbish, 1993)
A surprisingly punky tune, one begins with a sample (“Food processors are great!”), after which - to borrow from a revisitation of the album by The Young Folks - “Damon Albarn mocks the false promises of advertisements with all the gusto of Guy Montag raging against Denham’s Dentifrice ads in Fahrenheit 451.”
“Clover Over Dover” (from Parklife, 1994)
Per Blur bassist Alex James, this tune was originally planned as a sort of ska tune, but “it came out sounding like Nirvana meets Doctor Drugs.” We have no idea who or what Doctor Drugs is, but despite the fact that it doesn’t sound like James intended that remark as a compliment, it’s still a fun track. (That said, it’s a song that the band has never performed live, which may give you an idea how they feel about it.)
“Mr. Robinson’s Quango” (from The Great Escape, 1995)
In an interview with NME, Albarn detailed the origins of this tune and its rather pervy character. “I went to see my grandparents in Grantham, of all places, and I was at the train station and I wanted to go to the toilet, so I went and sat down and it had in felt tip on the door, ‘I’m wearing black French knickers on under my suit / I’ve got stockings and suspenders on / I’m feeling rather loose,’” said Albarn. “Just the idea that someone in Grantham, who was obviously a commuter to London, had sat there and written this thing! I thought it was wonderful. Hopefully that person will know they’ve been immortalized.” (No word if that person ever worked out that they had a song written about them.)
“Death of a Party” (from Blur, 1997)
Upon the release of their self-titled album, Albarn spoke with Addicted to Noise; he conceded that this tune was a sad song, summing it up as being about “guilt and melancholy reminiscences... Just being a male. A drunk male.”
“B.L.U.R.E.M.I.” (from 13, 1999)
While it might be reasonably described as one of the more forgettable tracks on the band’s sixth studio album, it’s still rather jet-propelled, and just the fact that it features someone doing some semblance of a Donald Duck impression... Well, it’s an impression that makes an impression!
“Ambulance” (from Think Tank, 2003)
At the time of the album’s release, Albarn admitted that he’d actually written this song for Gorillaz, but when it didn’t fit their styles, he utilized it as an excuse to revive Blur. For that reason alone, we salute this tune.
“Thought I Was a Spaceman” (from The Magic Whip, 2015)
At 6:16, it’s the longest track on the band’s first album in a dozen years, but more than a few reviews called it out as the highlight of the record. In an NME interview, guitarist Graham Coxon discussed The Magic Whip and referred to “this atmosphere of dislocation that is running throughout, of these odd sounds that drift in and out, letting you know that you're not really in the world you inhabit, the one you're familiar with - you've somehow gone somewhere else." Let’s just say that nowhere is this premise more evident than in this song.