BLUR - GO OUT (PARLOPHONE)
You know which album doesn’t get enough credit? The Great Escape. Descending back into the Britpop maw, sick with cynicism and alcohol poisoning, it was lauded on first listen, derided on second. Blur were suddenly snide, sideswiping mockneys where they were previously the heirs to Ray Davies and a celebration of all things British. Whatever that is.
But there is a single, inestimable fact that is as true now as it was in 1995. There are some utterly beautiful songs on that record. Even leaving aside The Universal, I give you 'Best Days,' 'Fade Away,' 'Yuko and Hiro' and 'He Thought of Cars.' The singles might misrepresent the album as a whole, but The Great Escape is a much more complex and complete body of work than Parklife, and is the Blur album that most retains its allure, 20 years on.
Another reason for this is that the b-sides of that era are as good as anything the band ever made, making the 2012 remaster an essential purchase. ‘Tame,’ ‘The Man Who Left Himself,’ ‘St Louis,’ ‘A Song’ – had these replaced some of the more superfluous pop on The Great Escape, it would’ve been heralded as a goddamn masterpiece.
‘Go Out’ sounds like it was birthed from those sessions. In case you’ve not been paying attention, this is wonderful news. Graham Coxon’s guitar is the most expressive, nuanced instrument of the last 25 years (sorry, Jonny Greenwood) and it swarms around every facet of the mix. Coxon once said that his job within Blur was to work in opposition to Alex James and ‘fuck up his funk,’ and it’s perfectly encapsulated here. Masterful juxtaposition of distortion and strangled lead playing against a bouncy pop rhythm section. Blur, basically.
While we’re at it, James doesn’t get nearly enough credit. He’s a fantastic bass player and completely indispensable to his band. He might be a twat, but so is 95% of the music industry and 90% of the people I meet on a daily basis. Give him the respect he deserves for his contribution to music. It’s a real joy to hear Damon Albarn swap little harmonies with Coxon again, too, alhough that's still not the best thing about this return. That honour goes to the overwhelming feeling that they’ve done this out of nothing but love. Now reciprocate, you jaded, cold-hearted bastards.