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Blur – Parklife (1994)

March 18, 2014

[Album 299/1001]BlurParklife

I plan on saving my top 10 albums for albums #992-1001.

Parklife is close, probably top 25 material, so I suppose it’s ok to review it now.  🙂

It’s my 2nd favourite Blur (behind the self-titled 1997 effort) and when discussing beloved albums, I struggle with brevity!

So I will try to allow a homemade jpeg to tell most of the story.

I’ll divide Parklife‘s 16 tracks into 4 categories:

1. Bizarre – Blur wrote some quirky tunes, this album has its fair share.

2. Bread & Butter – When you think Brit-pop, these are textbook Brit-pop Blur ditties.

3. ‘Bove Average – Great tunes, would be career highlights for more ordinary groups

4. Brilliance – Your patience is requested while I gush about these 4 gems!

Blur

Girls & Boys is a terrific single.  Instantly catchy with the sing-a-long chorus, bouncing bassline & distinct guitar effects.

The lyrics to End of a Century include the line: “End of a Century, oh, it’s nothing special.”  To quote Dwight Schrute, False.  End of a Century (the song), oh, it’s something special.

The delightful title track would be the best song here were it not for Clover Over Dover.

Graham Coxon’s guitar lines complement Damon Albarn’s harpsichord perfectly, the ahh-ahhs, the seaside sounds, Stephen Street’s perfect production, Clover Over Dover is nothing less than a remarkable piece of work.

The individual strength of the song might actually be my only complaint about the album.  Though I quite enjoy the cheeky Magic America & upbeat Jubilee that follow it in the running order, I want to rewind track #12 and hear it again!

And that’s the best complaint I can muster.

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From → 1990s

24 Comments
  1. jennypughuk permalink

    One of the albums of my teenage years! I have such happy memories of listening to “End Of A Century” back when I was 15 on holiday with my friend in the summer of 1994 🙂

    • Excellent choice – and what a year for music in ’94!

      • jennypughuk permalink

        Thank you! I just went and looked up other 1994 songs, and such classics include Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex, Stay (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb and Confide in Me by Kylie. Happy days! 😀

      • jennypughuk permalink

        Haha, my iPod playlist has 1255 songs on it, and shuffle is currently playing me “Far Out”. Spooky! 😀

      • I like it – well done shuffle!

  2. Don’t hate me but I prefer The Great Escape to Parklife!

    • I don’t think that’s grounds for hatred!

      I’d argue Great Escape also has 4 in that ‘brilliance’ category with Stereotypes, Country House, Charmless Man, and the practically perfect The Universal.

  3. This is not a band I ever really got into. This and The Great Escape are probably their two best though.

    • And the Great Escape is probably my #3 (close with Modern Life is Rubbish)

      The self-titled one doesn’t sound like a Blur record, or a Stephen Street produced record for that matter – it’s closer to a Pavement record. It’s definitely one that needs multiple listens but it’s a beaut!

      • I almost reviewed the self-titled last week. But then I chickened out. I decided my 1/5 star review wasn’t going to cut it, I wasn’t “getting it”.

      • After one listen, I might have given it the 1 out of 5. I might even have borrowed your search terms acronym, wtf, what is this noise?!

        It’s on the repeated listens that I really like the lo-fi influences, some David Bowie moments, but still the odd bit of more traditional Blur (Beetlebum, Look Inside America).

        And if you never become a fan, that’s OK too!

  4. jprobichaud permalink

    I would have to say that it’s a dead heat tie between “Parklife” and “Modern life is rubbish” for the bragging rights as my favourite Blur album. I’d have to agree with your assessment of “Clover over Dover” as one of Blur’s unsung great tracks. And speaking of “End of a century”… Did you ever see the video on YouTube of Colin Meloy and Ben Gibbard covering that track live?

    • I hadn’t – just watched it now, I’m a fan! I don’t know much about The Decemberists but I quite enjoy Death Cab & The Postal Service.

      Modern Life has some fantastic moments including the ridiculously strong opening trio! Sunday, Sunday’s up there as well

      • jprobichaud permalink

        The Decemberists are one of my all-time favourite bands. Don’t delay. Check out any one of their albums ASAP!

      • Sounds good, I shall explore, stat!

  5. I remember buying this from a second hand shop, I remember thinking why would someone get rid if this in the first place? Brilliant memories from my teens.

  6. ianbalentine permalink

    You’re on a roll! I love this album, and your rankings are spot on in my opinion. I picked up the (fairly) new 2-disc editions of their albums, and the bonus disk for Parklife is almost as good as the original. I’m a little odd, but The Great Escape remains my favorite Blur album and Think Tank, while not technically a true Blur album, doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Some great tracks on that one.

    • haha, my thanks!

      I didn’t realize a 2-disc existed, that’s now been added to the wishlist.

      For me, when the great escape is good, it’s off the charts. I start to run low on positive adjectives when describing exceptional songs like The Universal!

      Think Tank’s definitely one of those albums where expectations should be managed – if you’re expecting it to sound like Parklife, disappointment likely awaits. I haven’t heard it in years, I’ll have to re-explore.

  7. I never got into blur back in the Brit pop days. I was an Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller guy. It’s only later that I appreciated how good they are. The self titled album is my fave as well

    • You’re the second person to mention Paul Weller – I don’t know much beyond the Jam & the Champagne Supernova guitar duet. “Wild Wood” is on the 1001, I’ll try to fit that one in soon!

  8. ianbalentine permalink

    Wild Wood is excellent, but I prefer the self titled solo debut…kind of a natural progression from the sophisticated jazz pop ‘stylings’ of the Style Council and the more rootsy, Traffic inspired Wild Wood. But really, I enjoy everything Weller’s done solo. 22 Dreams is a ripper as well.

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