This was an unsurprising release by Food Records. With only one album left on their contract with Food, a greatest hits collection was assembled. This isn’t a new thing in the record industry – although diehard fans of the band may not rush out to buy a batch of songs they already own, the general public will always buy a compilation album in droves, and so it makes economic sense to bring out a ‘best of’ while the opportunity is ripe, rather than release studio album #452.
As a DJ – which I was at the time of this release – it’s always handy to have a collection of hit songs on one disc (or two, in this case), rather than lug a load of albums around for the sake of one or two songs. Still, saying that, this album did open my eyes to some of the other Blur material which I wasn’t familiar with at the time.
Much after the fact, I had discovered Parklife and, subsequently, The Great Escape, while at University. Blur and 13 sort of passed me by, although by this time they were sufficiently on my radar, enough for me to anticipate their singles as they were released.
I’ve been thinking about ‘90s music for a few weeks now, after somebody mentioning what a truly terrible decade for music it was. I guess it’s too early to tell, but will anybody be listening to this sort of thing in 40 or 50 years?
The reason I prefer to listen to older music – specifically from the ‘60s and ‘70s – is that most of the time you can listen to it without having to handle all of the other bullshit that comes with it. It’s almost impossible to listen to a Blur album without thinking about how much of a knobhead Damon Albarn is.
I remember being asked about Blur and Oasis by my sixth-form English teacher in the mid-‘90s. Their rivalry was all over the British press because of the chart race between Country House and Roll With It. He wanted to know who I thought were the better band. This was many years before I would start listening to “Indie” or Britpop music, and I was existing purely on a diet of hard rock and heavy metal at the time, so the question was sort of lost on me. I still stand behind my response back then, which was “Blur, of course, because they’re always doing something different.” The one thing I can always be sure of is that I can happily look back at Oasis’ entire career and proudly declare ‘not guilty’.
When I look back at Blur’s career alongside British bands which I’m sure they’d like to measured against – The Kinks, The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, etc – I’m not sure if they’ll ever be regarded in the same light. Oasis plumbed new depths of mediocrity in the ‘90s, but Blur were simply the best British band of the decade, and I guess that’s all that mattered at the time.
Hit: Song 2
Hidden Gem: To The End