Blur Oasis on the cover of Melody Maker, 9th December 1995

Blur / Oasis on the cover of Melody Maker, 9th December 1995. Photo by Tom Sheehan.

So last night I saw the Blur doc, No Distance Left To Run which left me feeling a little disjointed. It’s hard to put my finger on why. I suppose, as the cliché goes, I’ve grown up with Blur. But it’s more than simple nostalgia. They’ve somehow bisected with my life in a way that no other band has and while I watched Blur’s youthful exuberance become slowly grubbied by alcohol, cynicism and (whisper it) heroin, I was repeatedly reminded of my various triumphs and failures. Mostly failures. Fuck it, it is just nostalgia isn’t it?

I was at art college in London in 1990, not Goldsmiths, but one very close by. One group of friends had come from Colchester art college and were good friends with Damon’s sister. One even ended up marrying her. It all came back last night and more.

I remember how I heard Leisure at a BBQ weeks before it was released. I remember Damon running off to get the tube after coming to our graduation show; and how shortly afterwards, Modern Life is Rubbish, ended up sound tracking my hateful commuter walk during the misery of my first full time job. I remember the lonely walks from Hackney to The Barbican on Sunday afternoons. I remember the Subterranea and how you could often find Damon puking his guts up in the toilets. I remember Britpop, the Loaded parties and the hangover that kicked in around 98 when we all suddenly realised we weren’t young anymore and had stopped talking to each other. I remember the scurrilous rumours, the friends boyfriend who’d shagged Justine and how I’ve had to leave that life behind me. I remember thinking how much they’d done and how little I’d done. I guess I felt sorry for myself.

But most of all…most of all, I remember thinking…make another fucking record.

Here’s a great recording of the pre-Blur Seymour, clips of which were shown in the doc.



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Steve Sutherland interviews Damon Albarn, 16th September 1995

Steve Sutherland interviews Damon Albarn part2, 16th September 1995

Steve Sutherland interviews Damon Albarn, 16th September 1995. Photos by Kevin Cummins.

Seeing as I have the N.M.E. pile out and we’re all still flushed from seeing Blur on stage again at Glastonbury 2009 I thought I’d post this, the counterpart to this cover, which has proved extremely popular. Gasp again to the cut and thrust of Blur vs. Oasis; thrill to the shenanigans of Cuntry House and The Great Escape; or just simply drool over the lovely Cummins picture of the young Albarn.

The years are starting to show though aren’t they? Quite understandable for Albarn to change the lyrics in End of a Century from “the mind gets dirty, as you get closer to thirty” to fifty, given the circumstances. It doesn’t scan as well but I’ll forgive him.

So I dunno if I was naive, but I wasn’t expecting quite such a retreat to the ‘Britpop’ Blur – perhaps Damon & Co. needed to be reminded of what great work they’ve produced over the years to feel re-invigorated for the future? It has, lest we forget, been a long slog for them over the last 20 years. Something I was reminded of again today thanks to the serendipitous joys of Twitter when I read Rhodri Marsden’s first hand recollection of meeting Blur in their orignal Seymour form and then subsequently touring with them. Well worth reading and there’s this photo that shows why Dave gave up drinking.

It just so happens that I’ve managed to scan in a review from one of these early Blur performances where The Keatons supported. If you missed it the first time it’s here.

And let’s not forgot all of Blur’s festival unfriendly tunes. Here’s a Spotify playlist showcasing the gloomy side of Blur through the years.

Wallow deep.

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keith-cameron-interviews-blur-part-1-8th-oct-1994

keith-cameron-interviews-blur-part-2-8th-oct-1994

Keith Cameron interviews Blur in America, 8th October 1994. Photos by Kevin Cummins.

This interview showcasing that annoying habit N.M.E. had of overflowing any content that didn’t fit the paper into the back pages. I always hated treasure hunts. Still, it’s nice to see that classified ad for Shed Seven T-Shirts isn’t it? One thing I’ve also noticed in scanning this is that every member of staff has their direct telephone number listed in the paper. This seems quite extraordinary to me now.

For the young ‘uns and those of you not versed in UK radio history that Lambretta to America title is a pun on Alistair Cooke’s very famous Letter to America radio program – “The world’s longest running speech radio programme began in 1946, and continued till Cooke’s retirement in February 2004″.

Co-incidentally Alistair Cooke would have been 100 this week and there’s a tribute show that’s been broadcast tonight.

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Blur on the cover of NME, 17th June 1995. Photo by Steve Double.

Tracey hacks at low resolution

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Everett True interviews Blur in America (part one) 9th March 1996

Everett True interviews Blur in America (part two) 9th March 1996

Everett True interviews Blur in America (part three) 9th March 1996

Everett True interviews Blur in America, 9th March 1996. Photo by Stephen Sweet.

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Damon Albarn on the cover of Melody Maker, 9th March 1996

Damon Albarn on the cover of Melody Maker, 9th March 1996. Photo by Stephen Sweet.

Remember that ROMO scene? There’s a Bennun interview with Plastic Fantastic inside this issue I’ll scan in for a laugh. Who started ROMO? Pretty much the final nail in the coffin for me and it’s interesting that this is the last copy of MM I’ve got.

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Damon Albarn on the cover of NME 16th September 1995

Damon Albarn on the cover of NME, 16th September 1995. Photo by Kevin Cummins.

Anyone that’s visited this site a few times will probably have deduced my preference for the Melody Maker but NME did generally have the best covers. Damon’s looking pretty in this picture non? He’s on my mind as I went to see Monkey: Journey to the West at the Royal Opera House tonight.

UPDATE: For the interview from this issue click here

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Damon Albarn of Blur on the cover of N.M.E. 8th October 1994

Damon Albarn of Blur on the cover of N.M.E. 8th October 1994. Photo by Kevin Cummins.

Blur do a short tour of America to promote Parklife. When did Albarn eventually stop wearing that necklace? Am I imagining it or was there some incident where it was ripped off him at a gig or something?

Blame the Suede flexidisc for the large tear on this cover. I wonder where that flexidisc is now….ah yes I know…the bin.

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Simon Price, who unlike Tim Jonze knows his stuff, reviews David Bowie, live at Milton Keynes Bowl on The Sound & Vision Tour, Melody Maker 11th August, 1990. And very good it is too.

Much to enjoy on this page actually. A nascent Blur at The Dome, which I should probably remind any younger readers does NOT mean The O2 Dome, are applauded for “their total destructive abandon” and “the singer – Randell or whatever his name is” is singled out as having “definite star potential…but if they don’t write some tunes with a different harmony for a change they’ll only be remembered for this – he falls over well.” Hahaha!

Paris Angels, who did indeed pen “divinely heady single Perfume”, reviewed on this page too. Everyone has heard Perfume by the Paris Angels yes? Then please do so now. Wonder if they still play this at Camden Palace…er…I mean, Koko. They should.

And if that’s you at the Snuff gig, caught by the camera, about to get up for yet another stage dive then please say hello and let us know which bank or insurance company you work for now.

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