Blur (band)

Blur are an English rock band formed in Colchester in 1989. The band are comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist/vocalist Graham Coxon, bassist/backing vocalist Alex James and drummer/backing vocalist Dave Rowntree. The group became one of the biggest bands in the UK during the Britpop movement of the mid-1990s.[1]

Blur's original influences on their debut album, Leisure, included contemporary British alternative rock trends such as Madchester and shoegazing. Following a stylistic change in the mid-1990s, influenced by English guitar groups such as The Kinks, The Beatles, and XTC, the band released Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape. As a result, the band helped to popularise the Britpop genre and achieved mass popularity in the UK, aided by a famous chart battle with Britpop rivals Oasis.

By the late 1990s, with the release of their fifth album, Blur, the band underwent another reinvention, influenced by the indie rock and lo-fi style of American bands such as Pavement and R.E.M., in the process gaining an elusive American success with the single "Song 2". The final album featuring the band's original lineup, 13, found Blur experimenting with electronica and gospel music.

In May 2002, founding member Graham Coxon left the band early in recording sessions for Think Tank, the band's seventh and latest album. Blur continued in his absence, seeing both the album and a tour through. Since the end of their 2003 tour, the band is inactive, as bandmembers are working on solo projects. In September 2007, the band reunited with Coxon for the first time in 5 years. In October 2007, a message was posted on their website saying that, while relations are healthy between all four members, they are not currently planning to make any new music.

History

Formation and breakthrough: 1989-1992

In spring 1989, vocalist Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon and drummer Dave Rowntree, classmates at London's Goldsmiths College, formed Seymour, a name taken from J.D. Salinger's , which Albarn was reading at the time.[2] Known in the Colchester underground scene as an art rock band, the band quickly gained underground popularity with their live shows. In summer 1989, Seymour, with the new addition of bassist Alex James, sent a demo containing early versions of songs such as "She's So High" and "Dizzy"[3] to indie label Food Records' A&R man Andy Ross. However, it wasn't until Ross attended Seymour's live performances that he was suitably impressed and decided to sign them. The only concern held by Ross and the record label was that they disliked the band's name. Food drew up a list of alternative names, from which the band decided on "Blur".[4] Food Records finally signed the newly-christened Blur in March 1990.

From March to July 1990, Blur toured the UK, testing out new songs. After their tour was over, Blur released "She's So High" in October 1990, which reached #48 in the UK. However, producer Stephen Street, contacted the band to produce their debut album.[5] The band agreed, beginning a successful partnership that would last nearly a decade. The follow-up to "She's So High", "There's No Other Way", became a hit, and both singles were included on Blur's debut album, Leisure, which was received positively because it fit into both the dying Madchester craze and the shoegazing-dominated London scene. The NME wrote in 1991, "They are [the] acceptable pretty face of a whole clump of bands that have emerged since the whole Manchester thing started to run out of steam."[6] However, some journalists and music critics dismissed the band as manufactured teen idols,[7] a title which Blur struggled to disprove throughout the next two years.

The Britpop years: 1993-1996

During a tour of America to promote Leisure, the band became increasingly unhappy, often venting frustrations on each other, leading to several violent confrontations. The band began to formulate the idea of an album directed against American culture, which Albarn considered naming "England vs. America",[8] on which they began work upon their return to the UK. Although Andy Partridge of the band XTC was originally slated to produce the follow-up to Leisure, his relationship with the band soon deteriorated and Street was finally brought in again to produce the album. Under his guidance, the band relinquished, to a degree, their original purpose of attacking American culture, changing the name of the album to Modern Life is Rubbish, reportedly taken from graffiti Albarn saw on London's Edgware Road.[9] Finally, after nearly a year in the studio, the band delivered Modern Life Is Rubbish to Food.

Blur's 1992 single "Popscene" has in retrospect been cited as a turning point for the band musically,[10] yet when it was originally released it only charted at #32. "We felt 'Popscene' was a big departure; a very, very English record," Albarn told the NME in 1993, "But that annoyed a lot of people [...] We put ourselves out on a limb to pursue this English ideal and no-one was interested."[11] In 1993 the band were ready to release Modern Life is Rubbish when Food Records said the album required more potential hit singles and asked them to return to the studio for a second time. The band complied and Albarn wrote "For Tomorrow", which would become the album's lead single.[12]

The record was finally released in May in Britain and later in 1993 in the U.S. Cited by some critics as the first Britpop album,[13] Modern Life Is Rubbish was well received in Britain, peaking at number 15 on the British charts, yet it did not make much of an impression in the U.S.

Blur's 1994 follow-up, Parklife, finally became their commercial breakthrough. Influenced by East End culture and Martin Amis' London Fields,[14] Parklife entered the British charts at number one, catapulting the band to fame in their home country. In Britain Parklife reaped Blur a string of hit singles, including the ballad "To the End", the dance-pop single "Girls & Boys", and the mod anthem "Parklife", which featured narration by Phil Daniels, the star of the film version of The Who's Quadrophenia. "Girls & Boys" entered the UK charts at number five, and managed to spend 15 weeks on the U.S. charts, peaking at number 52, but Parklife never reached the American Billboard 200.

By the beginning of 1995, Parklife had gone triple platinum in the UK. Blur spent the first half of 1995 recording their fourth album and playing occasional concerts, including a sold-out stadium show. In February, Blur received a record four awards at the BRIT Awards, for best album, best single and best video for the single "Parklife", and best British group.

On August 14, 1995, Blur released their new single, "Country House". Originally slated for release on August 21, Albarn had requested the single's release moved up to compete with the release of "Roll With It", the new single from Blur's rivals, Oasis - sparking the much hyped "Battle of Britpop". Blur's "Country House" ultimately outsold Oasis's "Roll With It" 274,000 copies to 216,000 during the week. The strategy backfired, however, as even though the band won the battle, they ultimately lost the war, as Oasis became Britain's biggest band at the time with their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, overshadowing Blur's fourth The Great Escape. While The Great Escape entered the UK charts at number one and earned overwhelmingly positive reviews, it did not sell as well as Morning Glory, and by the end of 1995, Blur were seen as has-beens. This perception was cemented by their failing to make an impression on the American market, in contrast to Oasis.[15]

Reinvention and evolution: 1997-2000

Struggling under negative press attention and a loss of popularity, Blur nearly broke up in February 1996, following a violent scuffle between Coxon and Albarn. The band took a brief hiatus between the end of their tour in March and the beginning of new recording sessions, which would begin in summer 1996 and end in winter of the same year. By the end of recording sessions, relations in the band had improved to the point that by December, the album had been easily mixed and mastered.

By the end of 1996, Albarn's musical interests had changed from British pop to American alternative rock and lo-fi, influences which dominated[16] Blur's eponymous fifth album. Blur, released in February 1997, received the kind of acclaim that had not been seen by the band since Parklife. The album exemplified the band's incorporation of American lo-fi and indie rock into their Britpop sound, a musical evolution which came as a stark contrast to the much-criticized[17] third album Be Here Now by rivals Oasis.

The band's reinvention earned them much praise in the UK; the album and its first single, "Beetlebum" debuting at number one. In the U.S. also, the record received strong reviews as the album and its second single "Song 2" became a large hit. The album reached #61 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and achieved gold status in December of that year, while "Song 2" peaked at #6 on the Modern Rock chart. After the success of Blur, the band embarked on a worldwide tour. However, at the conclusion of their tour, the band announced that they would take a different approach to their next album, and so parted ways with long-time producer and collaborator Stephen Street, who had helped establish the band as one of the biggest bands in the UK.

Enlarge picture
Three members of the band in the music video for Coffee and TV.


With Street gone, Blur was in need of a producer, a gap which they resolved by hiring William Orbit (Madonna, Seal). As a result, Blur's 1999 album 13 was musically dominated by Orbit's electronic production. 13 was preceded by the single "Tender", which marked a new era of sonic experimentation for Blur, with its mix of gospel music and electronica. The album spawned another hit single, Coffee & TV, which gained Blur cult status in America,[18] largely thanks to its music video, which featured the protagonist "Milky". Graham Coxon had even bigger artistic input on 13, contributing vocals to some of the songs, including "Coffee & TV" and "Tender", and designing the album cover.

Hiatus, Coxon's departure and Think Tank: 2001-2003

Exhausted by incessant recording and touring through the world, the band took a hiatus, pausing only to release a box set of singles in August 1999 to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Early in 2002, however, Blur temporarily broke their hiatus to record a song that would be played for the European Space Agency's Mars Lander, however, the plan fell through when the lander was lost.[19]

Recording for Blur's next album, Think Tank, got under way in Marrakesh, Morocco in mid-2002. Tensions surfaced, however, when Coxon began to appear emotionally and creatively distant to his bandmates, reportedly failing to attend recording sessions. One of the main causes for this has been cited as the choice of dance DJ Fatboy Slim as the album's producer. After several weeks of uncertainty, Coxon confirmed that he had been asked to leave the band for reasons connected with his "attitude."[20] His last contribution to the band was a guitar line on the final track of Think Tank, "Battery in Your Leg" which Albarn said was the only song he ever wrote about the band. [21]

Before the album was released, Blur released a new single, Don't Bomb When You're The Bomb as a very limited white label release. A largely electronic song, sporting a chorus consisting of "Don't bomb when you're the bomb-ba-bomb-bomb-bomb" the single and the band's startling reinvention was a shock to Blur fans, who were expecting a return to the catchy pop tunes of the band's early career. [22] Albarn, however, attempted to assuage fans' fears by explaining the impetus behind the song and providing reassurances that the band's new album would be a return to their roots.[23]

Think Tank, released in May 2003, was filled with atmospheric, brooding electronic sounds, featuring simpler guitar lines played by Albarn, and largely relying on other instruments to replace Coxon. Coxon's absence also meant that Think Tank was almost entirely written by Albarn. Its sound was seen as a testament to Albarn's increasing interest in African music, Middle Eastern music and electronica, and to his control over the group's creative direction.[24] For the following tour the band hired Simon Tong, former guitarist and keyboardist of The Verve, who also played with Albarn in his Gorillaz project.

While Think Tank was received well by critics and fans,[25] a minority of critics didn't warm to it.[26] However, Think Tank was yet another UK #1 and managed Blur's highest US position of #56.[27] The album was also nominated for best album at the 2004 BRIT Awards. The band supported the album with a tour and three singles: "Out of Time, "Crazy Beat" and "Good Song".

Solo, reunion and continuous hiatus: 2004-present

Although the band suggested that they might record a new album in 2004, this never materialised, so in recent years all members have devoted their energy to solo projects (see below). Albarn had said that the door was always open for Coxon to return, a reunion of the original Blur line-up did not seem likely in the foreseeable future, particularly given the success of the guitarist's solo career since his departure and the band's relative inactivity. Albarn stated in a 2006 Q interview that he is still dedicated to Blur, but reluctant to tour without Coxon. Alex James commented that he was hopeful to persuade Coxon to come back to Blur, and that he felt their best work is still to come.

In April 2007, Alex James said that the band will emerge from their hiatus: "We're all heading into the studio together [this August] - Graham's coming too," he told Dotmusic. "We're gonna see if we've still got it. If not, I think we'll just call it a day." [28] The band formally announced that a new album was in the works with Graham Coxon saying that he is "raring to record with Blur". HMV has also listed the as-yet untitled new studio album on its website. Alex James recently announced that the band will likely be beginning a new album in October [1].

Since then, on Thursday 4th October 2007 blur.co.uk revealed that although the band all met for "an enjoyable lunch", they had no intentions of future Blur work in the near future and that the media drew out the reunion talks far too much.[29]

Solo projects

In the last decade, bandmembers are mostly engaged in a variety of side-projects, instead of working as a full band.
  • Damon Albarn formed the virtual band Gorillaz, releasing their fist self-titled Gorillaz album in March 2001. He also travelled to Mali on behalf of Oxfam, producing the fundraising album Mali Music. Albarn released a follow-up Gorillaz album, Demon Days, in May 2005, which was critically acclaimed,[30] and was supported by the Demon Days Live in Manchester shows. In early 2006, Gorillaz received a Grammy for the single "Feel Good Inc". In late July 2006 Albarn announced the formation of a collaboration with Simon Tong, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, and drummer Tony Allen. The unnamed band released their debut album The Good, the Bad and the Queen in January 2007. [31]
  • Graham Coxon has released 3 solo albums while still a member of the band. His first, released on his own Transcopic label was The Sky is Too High in 1998, a ramshackle mixture of English folk music and 1960s-style garage rock, under the influence of Billy Childish. This was followed by the more extreme The Golden D (2000) and the thoughtful Dylan-Drakesque Crow Sit on Blood Tree (2001). After going solo full-time, The Kiss of Morning (2002) proved to be his most accessible to date. Graham Coxon rekindled his relationship with former Blur producer Stephen Street in 2003, to craft his most successful solo albums to date Happiness in Magazines (2004) and Love Travels at Illegal Speeds (2006).
  • Alex James joined actor Keith Allen and artist Damien Hirst to form Fat Les. He began working with pop singer Betty Boo in the band WigWam in 2005. They released the single "WigWam" in April 2006 and are currently working on their debut album.
  • Dave Rowntree set up the animation company Nanomation, which produced the South Park-esque Empire Square, shown on Channel 4 in early 2005. He is also the drummer and backup vocalist for The Ailerons.

Discography

Main article: Blur discography
  1. Leisure - August 26, 1991 - #7 (UK)
  2. Modern Life Is Rubbish - May 10, 1993 - #15 (UK)
  3. Parklife - April 25, 1994 - #1 (UK)
  4. The Great Escape - September 11, 1995 - #1 (UK), #150 (US)
  5. Blur - February 10, 1997 - #1 (UK), #61 (US)
  6. 13 - March 15, 1999 - #1 (UK), #80 (US)
  7. Think Tank - May 5, 2003 - #1 (UK), #56 (US)

Notes

1. ^ Dowling, Stephen. Entertainment: Are we in Britpop's second wave?. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
2. ^ Blur FAQ. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
3. ^ The History of Blur: 1989-1991. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
4. ^ Harris, John. Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock, 2004. ISBN 0-306-81367-X, pg. 49-50
5. ^ Stephen Street. Discogs.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
6. ^ Kelly, Danny. "Sacre Blur!" NME. 20 July 1991.
7. ^ Modern Life is Rubbish: The Rise and Fall of Britpop. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
8. ^ Harris, pg. 80
9. ^ Music Profiles: Blur. BBC. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
10. ^ Harris, pg. 67, 77
11. ^ Harris, John. "A shite sports car and a punk reincarnation." NME. 10 April 1993
12. ^ Harris, pg. 82-83
13. ^ George Starostin. Reviews: Blur. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
14. ^ Connecting conversations. July 22, 2006.. Retrieved on .
15. ^ Arts. Years pass in a blur.... The Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
16. ^ Damon Albarn Biography. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
17. ^ Oasis's cruise control. Seattle Weekly (03 1998).
18. ^ Pitchfork Feature: 100 Awesome Music Videos.. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
19. ^ Blur song on Mars Rover. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
20. ^ Special Relationships. The Observer (2003-09-21). Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
21. ^ Blur - Think Tank (Parlophone). MusicOMH.com (2003-05-05). Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
22. ^ History of Blur. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
23. ^ Blur to Rock for World Peace. MTV News. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
24. ^ Artist Profile: Blur. VH1.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
25. ^ Metacritic: Blur-Think Tank:2003.. Metacritic.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
26. ^ allmusic: Think Tank-Overview.. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
27. ^ The Official UK Charts Company: Think Tank. Retrieved on 2007-03-11.
28. ^ Blur to return to the studio in August. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 2007-04-28.
29. ^ Blur Forum Post. blur.co.uk. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
30. ^ Metacritic.com compiling of reviews for Gorillaz (Demon Days). ]].
31.
^ The Good, The Bad, and the Queen's official site.. Retrieved on .

References

  • Harris, John. Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock, 2004. ISBN 0-306-81367-X
  • Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop. Passion Pictures, 2004.
  • Maconie, Stuart. . London: Virgin, 1999.
  • Roach, Martin & Nolan, David Damon Albarn - Blur, Gorillaz & Other Fables, October 25, 2007

External links

Motto
Dieu et mon droit   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
No official anthem specific to England — the anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the Queen".
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Rock music is a form of popular music with a prominent vocal melody accompanied by guitar, drums, and bass. Many styles of rock music also use keyboard instruments such as organ, piano, or synthesizers.
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Colchester

Colchester ()
|240px|Colchester (

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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1950s  1960s  1970s  - 1980s -  1990s  2000s  2010s
1986 1987 1988 - 1989 - 1990 1991 1992

Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX
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Damon Albarn, (IPA: ['dɛɪmən 'ɔːɫbɑːn]) (born March 23, 1968 in Leytonstone, London), is an English singer-songwriter who gained fame as the lead singer of rock band Blur.
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Graham Coxon (born Graham Leslie Coxon on 12 March 1969, in Rinteln, West Germany) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter. He is best known as the guitarist in the rock band Blur.
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Alex James (born Stephen Alexander James, 21 November 1968, in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, England) is the bass player in the band Blur, and one of the members of Fat Les.
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David Alexander De Horne Rowntree, commonly known as Dave Rowntree, (born 8 May, 1964 in Colchester, England) is best known as the drummer in the band Blur.

Career


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Motto
"Dieu et mon droit" [2]   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
"God Save the Queen" [3]
..... Click the link for more information.
Britpop was a mid-1990s British alternative rock genre and movement. The movement emerged from the indie scene of the early 1990s and was characterised by bands influenced by British guitar pop music of the 1960s and 1970s.
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Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century

1960s 1970s 1980s - 1990s - 2000s 2010s 2020s
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

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Leisure
(1991) Modern Life Is Rubbish
(1993)

Leisure was the debut album by English indie rock band Blur. The album was released on August 26, 1991 in the United Kingdom, and peaked at #7 in the UK Albums Chart. It was released in the U.S.
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Motto
"Dieu et mon droit" [2]   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
"God Save the Queen" [3]
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Alternative rock (also called alternative music or simply alternative; known primarily in the UK as indie) is a genre of rock music that emerged in the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s.
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Madchester was coined for a rock music scene that developed in Manchester, England, at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.

The scene mixed indie rock and dance music.
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Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze or shoegazer; practitioners referred to as shoegazers) is a genre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted until the mid 1990s, peaking circa 1990 to 1991.
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Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century

1960s 1970s 1980s - 1990s - 2000s 2010s 2020s
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

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-
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Motto
Dieu et mon droit   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
No official anthem specific to England — the anthem of the United Kingdom is "God Save the Queen".
..... Click the link for more information.
The Kinks were an English rock group formed in 1963 by lead singer-songwriter Ray Davies, his brother, lead guitarist and vocalist Dave Davies, and bassist Pete Quaife. The band's early hard-driving singles set a standard in the mid-1960s for rock & roll, while albums such as
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The Beatles were an English musical group from Liverpool whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.
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For the drug, see MDMA.


XTC was a New Wave band from Swindon, England, active between 1976 and 2005. Though the band enjoyed some significant chart success (including the UK hits "Making Plans For Nigel" (1979) and "Senses Working Overtime"
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Modern Life Is Rubbish
(1993) Parklife
(1994)

Modern Life Is Rubbish is the second album by the English rock band Blur released on May 10, 1993 in the UK.
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Parklife
(1994) The Great Escape
(1995)

Parklife is the third album by the English rock band Blur released on April 25, 1994, in the UK.
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The Great Escape
(1995) Blur
(1997)

The Great Escape is the fourth album by Blur, released on 11 September 1995. The Great Escape
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Britpop was a mid-1990s British alternative rock genre and movement. The movement emerged from the indie scene of the early 1990s and was characterised by bands influenced by British guitar pop music of the 1960s and 1970s.
..... Click the link for more information.
Motto
"Dieu et mon droit" [2]   (French)
"God and my right"
Anthem
"God Save the Queen" [3]
..... Click the link for more information.
The Battle of Britpop is the unofficial title given to the 1995 chart battle between popular Britpop groups, Blur and Oasis.

The Origins

The differing styles of the bands, Oasis being gritty, working-class, and Northern, and Blur being art rock, middle-class, and Southern,
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Oasis are an English rock band, formed in Manchester in 1991, led by lead guitarist and primary songwriter Noel Gallagher and his younger brother, lead vocalist and songwriter Liam Gallagher.
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Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century

1960s 1970s 1980s - 1990s - 2000s 2010s 2020s
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

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Blur
(1997) 13
(1999)

Blur is the fifth album by Blur, released on February 10, 1997 in the UK. It reached #1 in the UK album chart, while making significant headway in the US with "Song 2" becoming a hit there and earning Blur a gold
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