Blur roll over rivals to hit the No 1 spot

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JOJO MOYES

It was billed as the "clash of the titans" - the biggest, bloodiest pop battle since 1989, when the last two acts to fight their way straight into the top two chart slots were ... Jason Donovan and Cliff Richard.

Last night Blur won the most recent - and possibly the most hyped - battle of the bands, when their single, "Country House'', pipped Mancunian rivals Oasis's "Roll With It'' for the number one slot in the BBC Top 40.

It is Blur's first number one and only the third time that the number one and two positions have been taken by new entries. Between them, the two singles sold around half a million copies in just six days.

"In sales terms, it does compare with the days of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and, in profit terms, the cash coming in will be higher because people are buying CDs instead of vinyl," said pop music expert Tony Brown, of Entertainment Research and Analysis.

Blur's frontman, Damon Albarn, last night sent a message of thanks to the band's fans. "We're really bowled over by the incredible response from people up and down the country. Thanks to all our fans who made the effort to go and buy the record," he said.

Last night it was announced that Blur and Oasis are to join forces and record a Band-Aid style album, together with other top pop acts, to help Bos- nian children.

But this is unlikely to dim the two bands' rivalry for long. Blur are planning a "low-key" seaside tour starting on 12 September. One of their dates is set for Bournemouth. On the same night, in a venue just a few hundred yards away, another band will be playing. Oasis.

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