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BLUR - PARKLIFE
A Britpop classic if ever there was one. Quirky and inventive all the way through it sustains its quality over a mammoth 16 tracks.
The opening track, 'Girls & Boys', is really a blueprint for the album, with its off-centre musical and lyrical touches. It is one of the Blur classics, with its maniacal, drunken, repetitive rhythm and Albarn's machine gun delivery.
'Tracy Jacks' is a very catchy song, and is a decent nod at The Kinks 'Lola'. 'End Of A Century' has some nice brass (and flugelhorn!), and is also catchy.
'Parklife' is the epitome of a Britpop song, perfectly delivered by the greatest British actor of his generation, Phil Daniels, with lyrical content of a quintessential Englishness. Not even the best track on this album, it nevertheless has an infectious quality.
'Bank Holiday' is a raucous number, but apart from Graham Coxon's guitar doesn't quite work. 'Badhead' is gorgeous. Damon Albarn puts over a ballad as well as any of his peers, and the maturity of the group is well displayed in this track. The inventive musical tricks displayed here, also feature on the strange but appealing instrumental 'The Debt Collector'. Stranger still is 'Far Out', with a vocal by Alex James. Patrick Moore watch out. Nice.
'To The End' is another moving ballad, with a skilful arrangement incorporating fairground music and, er, a chanteuse.
'Clover Over Dover' has a good rolling rhythm, with some intriguing lyrics. 'Magic America' has some quirktastic keyboard touches, and is catchy enough without being one of the best tracks on the album. 'Jubilee' is a bouncy, fun-filled track with amusing lyrics.
'This Is A Low' is the album's highlight, with the most eccentric of lyrics featuring places made famous via the shipping forecast. An outstanding guitar solo by Coxon, and fabulous music all through, amidst a heartfelt delivery by Albarn.
The final track, 'Lot 105', could have come straight out of 'The Italian Job'. A rather head-scratching end to an album that entertains and bemuses, and, indeed, amuses. It is hard to believe that, after a promising start in the late '80s/early '90s, Blur were way down the rock hierarchy pecking order come early 1994, but this gem saw one of the greatest rebirths in the history of British rock.
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
Blur perform the wonderful The Universal at the 2003 Reading Festival
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Blue links, Amazon.com; purple links, Amazon.co.uk
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Blur - Out Of Time
Blur - Showtime 
Blur - Star Shaped 
Blur - The Best Of
Blur: The Best Of
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