blur

As a teen, I hung out with a bunch of guys who were into Britpop and related music – rare in mid-’90s New Zealand. At least in the town I grew up in.

There was a guy whose favourite band was Radiohead, a Suede guy, another really into Supergrass, and a strange guy who had five identical Oasis shirts, so each day he’d have a clean one to wear under his nearly transparent school uniform.

I was the Blur guy in the group. Dan Abnormal… they didn’t call me, but totally should have.

8. ERNOLD SAME

A lot of great albums have that one track that makes you go, err… what? OK Computer has Fitter Happier, Revolver has Yellow Submarine, you get the idea.

Now despite what Damon Albarn thinks of it these days, The Great Escape is a great album. I probably think that way ’cause it was the first of theirs I picked up.

My copy was a tape, and Ernold Same was my introduction to ‘secret’ tracks. I had The Great Escape playing in my room, and had to go down the other end of the house somewhere near the album’s conclusion. When I returned, there was this unfamiliar but recognisable tune eminating from the speakers – a hidden reprise of Ernold Same, buried minutes after Yuko & Hiro.

7. DAN ABNORMAL

It’s an anagram of Damon Albarn.

It also probably would have been my nickname in high school had I not already been dubbed ‘Dan X-Files’ for the mere fact I owned two X-Files shirts. Still have one too – how it’s survived nearly two decades in tact is a mystery worthy of appearing in the show.

Dan Abnormal also appeared on The Great Escape, and I can’t say it’s the greatest tune the band ever came up with, but has some cool la-la-las and a Graham Coxon solo that hints at the direction the band would take on their next record.

6. COLIN ZEAL

Has mass appeal, apparently.

There’s a number of tracks on Modern Life is Rubbish that have this kind of vaguely underwater sound – I’m not sure how else to describe it – but still manage to rock. Colin Zeal is one of them. Catchy as hell, but too weird to be a single.

5. MR ROBINSON’S QUANGO

Didn’t know what a quango was when I was younger. Thought it might be some kind of exotic fruit.

One of the quirkier songs on The Great Escape, Mr Robinson’s Quango lists the dirty deeds of the titular Mr Robinson, doing the kinds of things people I assume have quangos do.

4. PRESSURE ON JULIAN

A great example of Graham Coxon’s dischordant guitarwork defining much of Blur’s pre-Parklife work.

It’s also another song with the Modern Life washy underwater sound. I think it’s the reverb – sounds like part of the mix was run through a sewer pipe or something.

3. TRACY JACKS

Perhaps the most typically ‘Blur’ song in the band’s entire catalogue – if you had to write a song that had everything people associate with the phrase ‘sounds like Blur’, Tracy Jacks is what you’d get.

It’s mostly the choppy Graham Telecaster riff though, isn’t it? It’s often said Graham’s influence on the band’s sound didn’t really shine until 1997’s Blur, but try telling that to Tracy Jacks or half of Modern Life is Rubbish.

2. YUKO & HIRO

A quick Google suggests Yuko is a girl’s name, but having watched Big Hero 6, I know Hiro is most definitely a dude.

A lost masterpiece at the end of The Great Escape, Yuko & Hiro is a little preview of the East Asian themes that would resurface on comeback record The Magic Whip nearly two decades later. (Two decades?! Oh god…)

1. ALL THE ‘MAN’ SONGS

When I started this entry, I was convinced I’d have twice as many as I needed…

Good thing Blur came prepared with a whole bunch of songs about dudes who didn’t get proper names, but they just called ‘Man’.

In no particular order, then…there’s Charmless Man, Country Sad Ballad Man, Top Man, Bugman (lower case man!), Ice Cream Man, Thought I Was A Spaceman and Dead Man on Campus. Check them, and the previous seven, out on Spotify below.

If you are reading this post on Tumblr or a tablet/phone, and some of the videos or the Spotify playlist aren’t showing, try viewing it on your browser at this link.

And if you like what you’re reading and seeing here, kindly consider checking out the author’s own attempt at a music career – koshrecords.net.

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