There’s No Other Way – The Blur Singles pt.2

blurmodtops

After the moderate success of the “Leisure” era and the death of the scene that had thrust them into the spotlight it seemed as if Blur were destined to be no more than a Championship level indie band, a suspicion that was confirmed by the reception given to “Popscene”.  There was no failure in anything that had happened to Blur up to that point…not for an indie band.  Indeed, they had already enjoyed a level of fame and exposure, as well as chart success, that few bands on the “alternative” circuit could ever dare dream of. There was, however, one crucial difference between Blur and their supposed peers…they had a level of ambition and belief in themselves that even a hybrid of Ian McCulloch, Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher would struggle to match.  When I say “they” what I really mean is “he”.  Damon Albarn didn’t want to be the singer in a band…he wanted to be a star, the singer in the band, he wanted to be adored.

Nobody else really believed that Blur were going to be the band.

A lot of people had already decided that they had had more than their fifteen minutes.

Game over.

Goodbye.

Thanks for the memories.

But then…

For Tomorrow – April 19th, 1993

And so the story begins…again.

“For Tomorrow” is not just the start of Blur mkII…it is the start of a revolution.

“Popscene” and Suede’s “The Drowners” may have been the moment that the idea, the notion, the dream of a new English pop began to form in the minds of boys and girls, and girls and boys, like me up and down the UK but “For Tomorrow” was the sound of the starting pistol being fired.

The race was on.

That such a beautiful, romantic and none more English song should be the one to topple the statues of American rawk and skawk and roll of grunge seems ludicrous…it is the musical equivalent of Walter the softy duffing up Dennis the Menace.

This isn’t just fanciful thinking on my part, look at the cover art.  Spitfires in beautiful English skies, ready to defend the very best of British!

Can I just point out to any Guardian journalists who may have stumbled upon this that I am not suggesting that “For Tomorrow” is responsible for Brexit.  It was responsible for something much less divisive and toxic…a resurgence in British popular music, of British culture and of an entire generation of young kids feeling like there was something more, more sub, sub, substantial in life than the dole queue or the nihilism of Nirvana.

Not bad going for a single.

Chemical World – June 28th, 1993

“Chemical World” is notable for something that few people have noticed.

It contains the best opening line to a song ever recorded in the English language.

At least it does just now.

“The pay me girl has had enough of the bleeps…”

Straight away we are in the sort of nowhere town Hell that so many of us know so well.

A dead end job.

The repetition of the life most ordinary.

The despair.

The frustration.

In ten words.

And then this…

“So she takes the bus into the country…”

Hope.

Escape.

A life less ordinary.

Snoots and snobs like to take pot shots at Damon Albarn for his “mockney” accent and affectations but the truth of the matter is that he is an observer…he looks, he looks carefully and, unlike so many, he sees clearly.  He didn’t need to have worked the check-out in a Spar to understand that lots of us did exactly that.  He didn’t write about those lives with a sneer or with a sense of distance…he was able to occupy that life and give it form and substance through his lyrics.

Sunday Sunday – October 4th 1993

Right.

First things first.

I really like that little yellow silhouette of a family with the “blur” font in the middle.

That would make an excellent t-shirt design.

It would also have made an excellent rear cover for this single.

I really like that.

That’s the first thing.

Good.

The second thing is, I really like the artwork.

The hyper-Wimpy burger.

Synthetic food.

The Coca-Colanisation of Britain summed up in one awful image.

Bleurgh.

I think it’s very clever.

That’s the second thing.

Good.

The third thing is that the outfit Damon wears in the video is pretty much my uniform between 1993 and 1997.  Levi’s, blue v-neck sweater, Ben Sherman (vintage by the looks of things) and all set off with the sort of desert boots Graham is wearing.

Classic Mod casual wear.

Neat.

Clean.

Tidy.

Simple.

I really like it.

That’s the third thing.

Good.

The fourth thing is that I get all misty eyed when I see Alex using that bull-worker in the video.

My dad had one of those…exactly the same.

I used to try and use it.

Very unsuccessfully.

I wasn’t what you would call a sporty or athletic youth.

But I get all reminiscy when I see that.

That’s the fourth thing.

Good.

The fifth thing is that about a month after this was released I was on an overnight bus to London with my best mate Chris.

We were heading to a shop called “The Merc” which, at that point, was a sort of Mecca for kids like us because it sold bona fide Ben Sherman’s, parka’s and Harrington jackets.

We were going to get the same Harrington as Damon.

Goodness only knows how we had hear of The Merc.

But we did and so we knew that the only sensible thing to do was to take three months wages from our Saturday jobs in McDonald’s and head for the smoke in order to get ourselves some proper Harrington’s and a Ben Sherman shirt.

True story.

That’s the fifth thing.

Good.

The sixth thing, and possibly the most important thing, is that I don’t actually like “Sunday Sunday”.

It veers dangerously close to being a comedy song…a sort of “Shaddapya Face” for the Britpop generation.

I know.

I know.

It’s not that bad.

I just don’t like it.

I’m very sorry.

Do you like it?

Good.

Well, that’s all that matters then isn’t it.

We can still be friends.

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