blurrrr

Life and times on tour: leave out the philosophy, print the photographs . As Damon says, 'Fans couldn't give a toss about your intellectual manifesto. Most people just want to see you drunk on the pavement.' Photographs by Paul Postle

The Beatles carried it off, and so did the Jackson 5. If the test of a great pop group is how appealing they would look as cartoons, then Blur surely are the best new band in Britain. In the animated tales of Blur, singer Damon Albarn would be the chirpy, pretty boy who picks fights with Oasis, but always manages to scarper in time. Bespectacled guitarist Graham Coxon would look puzzled. Whenever they were in a scrape, ginger drummer, and licensed pilot, Dave Rowntree would rescue everyone in his plane. Bassist Alex James would swig from a bottle of Dom Perignon without taking the fag out of his mouth. It's not a far-fetched project: Blur are officially the nation's sweethearts.

Having won a record four awards at last year's "Brits", their album Parklife has still not left the top ten, and a new album, The Great Escape, went straight in at number one. They beat off arch rivals Oasis to have their first chart-topping single with "Country House". They've even had their own comic strip history in the Star. The Adventures of Blur is bound to happen sooner or later.

In 1991, Blur were just another second-rate indie band with daft haircuts. After scoring their first top ten hit with the melodious "There's No Other Way", their debut album, Leisure, was something of a lumpen disappointment. By 1992, Blur had been written off. Their descent was accelerated by a benefit gig they played for Shelter: having been upstaged by support band Suede, a drunken Albarn told the audience, "You might as well go home now, because we're going to be crap."

And that's where it should have ended. Second album Modern Life is Rubbish flopped, despite the band's new Mod image, a revitalised capacity to write tunes and Albarn's sharp, "Diary of a Nobody" style lyrics. Why then was Parklife - basically Modern Life part 2 - such a monster hit? If Modern Life is Rubbish was ahead of its time, then Parklife caught the post-grunge mood perfectly. Up until then, if a band wasn't, as Albarn put it, "Nirvana, or Nirvana lite", it had no chance of making it. By the time Parklife came out, teenagers had had enough of being miserable. They looked at their big brothers' Madness and Jam records and decided they wanted to have fun. Albarn became their figurehead and single-handedly made it glamorous to be British again.

With The Great Escape, Blur have shed the laddish, "Britpop" tag, to become something altogether darker. Graham Coxon's frenetic, discordant guitar work calls to mind not Paul Weller, but Syd Barrett. Damon Albarn's lyrics are stronger, and certainly more sympathetic. "When the days seem to fall through you, just let them go", runs "The Universal". Thatcherite casualties litter the album, such as the protagonist of "Globe Alone": "Because he wants it, needs it, almost loves it/He's here on his own, on Globe Alone". Blur, in their current incarnation, seem more humanitarian, more truthful, than any group around. Not only are they the best band in Britain, they are also the best band for the end of the century

Julia Priestly

'Blurbook' is published by HarperCollins on 2 November, price pounds 9.99. Paul Postle & Blur 1995

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sustainability Manager

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

    Graduate Sustainability Professional

    Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

    £100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn