Parklife – Blur

Released April 25, 1994 this album came to define the emerging Brit Pop scene and therefore has attained a cultural significance cementing its status as a landmark in British rock music. It is considered one of the 50 best alternative pop albums of its decade. It debuted at #2 in the UK and stayed on the charts for 90 weeks. It is certified 4x Platinum in the UK.

Jason: The first song on this album, “Girls & Boys” (sometimes written as “Girls and Boys”) really reminds me of college.

Brad: Same here. I liked Blur before that song but as soon as I heard that song, I became obsessed with Blur. Not to mention, I developed a huge crush on Damon Albarn. 

Jason: I made you this Damon collage.

Jason: I like some of the songs on here a lot, like “Tracy Jacks” but there are some I really do not like at all.

Brad: Hmmmm…I’m curious but also don’t want to know because this will likely make me angry.

Jason: “Bank Holiday” makes me mad.

Brad: That’s not surprising. You tend not to like punk music

Jason: Did you know the album cover was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Classic Album Cover” postage stamps issued in January 2010.

Brad: I did know that. Not sure why I don’t own one of those stamps though. Do you know that this album has a connection to our previous album (The Who’s Quadrophenia)

Jason: How so?

Brad: The guy who does the spoken word portion in the song “Parklife” is a British actor by the name of Phil Daniels. He also played the lead role in the film version of Quadrophenia.

Jason: Interesting. I don’t love that spoken word one either. It’s okay. I feel like a few UK bands may have been inspired by Blur. “The Streets”, “Oasis”, “Saint Etienne”. Do you agree?

Brad: I think “Parklife” is such a great song. It is part of the reason I chose to do a semester abroad in London when I was in college. I don’t really agree about those three bands you mention. Saint Etienne started at the same time as Blur but has a much more poppy sound. Oasis also started around the same time as Blur and they famously sound like The Beatles. Oasis is always pitted against Blur in the media. The Streets have a British accent in their rapping but I don’t see a lot of similarities other than that.

Jason: Okay fair enough. I was thinking that “To The End” reminded me of Saint Etienne but I think it’s more that they are all from around the same era more or less. You know what song I really like? “London Loves” oh and “Trouble in the Message Center”. One thing I do like about this album is that each song is almost from a different genre. It was probably very unique for the time.

Brad: I think that is the reason I gravitate towards Blur. I tend to like all genres of music. They take on many different sounds but they also still have a distinct recognizable Blur sound. 

Jason: So you were aware of them prior to “Girls & Boys”.

Brad: Yes. They had two albums prior to this one. “There’s No Other Way” from their first album used to get played late at night on MTV. I also remember seeing the “Chemical World” music video from time to time on MTV in the early 90s. That video is adorable by the way. Lots of cute animals. 

Jason: Oh, yes. “There’s No Other Way” was a big alternative/college hit. I do like that song. Do you prefer Blur or Gorillaz or do you consider them to different to compare?

Brad: I like just about everything Damon does musically. He is very prolific. I think The Gorillaz are great. Very creative and interesting. That being said, I would love a Blur reunion. The last time I saw them live was in 2003. So I would love to see them perform the Blur stuff live again.

Jason: Let’s go back to “Girls & Boys” for a sec. I was drawn to that in ’94ish because I thought it was about queer culture and I was like “Hey this huge band is cool with gay people!” but it’s not really about that.

Brad: It is more about a Spring Break hookup scene where everyone is hooking up with anyone. But I also liked to think of it as a “whatever you’re into is okay” sort of thing. 

Jason: An American music critic praised the song saying “it felt exactly like [90s] eurotrash” and that the chorus reference to “girls who are boys/who like boys to be girls/who do boys like they’re girls/who do girls like they’re boys” is “an absolutely devastating put-down of ’90s gender-bending, where even ambi-sexuals didn’t know whose fantasy they were fulfilling.”

Brad: According to wikipedia “Damon Albarn was inspired to write the song when he vacationed in Magaluf, Spain with then-girlfriend Justine Frischmann. According to Albarn, the city had “really tacky Essex nightclubs” and a rampant sexual scene among visitors, with “All these blokes and all these girls meeting at the watering hole and then just copulating. There’s no morality involved, I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t happen.” 

Jason: Either way it’s very catchy and memorable.

Brad: I think the whole album is really catchy. I like that even though I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times, I hear and appreciate something different. This time around, I was really appreciating “Trouble in the Message Centre” and its New Wave sound. 

Jason: Yes. I caught on to that as well. Is it fair to say Blur is your favorite band?

Brad: No. Not necessarily but they are in my Top 10 for sure.

Jason: Considering how much music you listen too that’s still a high honor. What grade do you give Blur’s Parklife?

Brad: No surprise but I give this an A. I think it is one of the best albums of the 90s.

Jason: I am going with a B and I that I enjoy most of the songs on the album and I definitely appreciate them all.

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  1. Pingback: 100 Albums Bucket List | Jason S Steele

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