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TOP TEN INDIE GUITARISTS

2. Graham Coxon

BLUR - GUITAR/BACKING VOCALS

1. John Squire
2. Graham Coxon
3. Johnny Marr
4. Tommy Greenwood
5. Paul Weller
6. Bernard Butler
7. James Dean Bradfield
8. Noel Gallagher
9. Andy Bell
10. Steve Cradock

Graham Coxon
Coxon's main guitar is reissue of the original and best Telecaster - a 1952 model, ideal for his bright and vicious attacking style.
 

Graham Coxon is an old school chum of Blur front-man Damon Albarn, and his guitar playing lies as much at the root of the band's sound - and popularity - as Damon's distinctive vocal delivery. But since their early days, Blur have changed almost beyond recognition. Their early sound - epitomised by the single There's No Other Way - could easily be mistaken for countless other bands in the late 80s' 'baggy' scene. The new moddisms of their second LP, Modern Life Is Rubbish, saw the critical acclaim start to build, while the third LP, Parklife, really cemented their image as one of the country's best and most popular groups. Along with Oasis they were on of the first bands to simultaneously be on the covers of Smash Hits and the NME.
    The Blur buble finally burst with 1995's The Great Escape - with Graham looking distinctly edgy in the ludicrous videos for The Universal and Country House. Publicly he began to sing the praises of US hardcore bands and lo-fi players like Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo (Sonic Youth).


THE RETURN OF BLUR

For their most recent, reputation-saving (and distinctly mad) LP, it was Graham that really came up with the goods to keep the band at the critical forefront. Gone are the cheesy brass parps of Parklife, in are the mangled guitar tones of Graham's howling Tele. True to the spirit of all the best musicians, it was his sheer disregard for accepted ways of doing things that made the break; "I seem to have developed a hatred of logic and a love of pure expression. That may be kind of childish, but I don't care."
    His gear lineup is a blond '52 reissure Telecaster, a '70s Gibson SG, a Les Paul Standard and a Fender Strat XII, to which he's recently added a three- quarter scale Fender Mustang - which he admits looks good, but doesn't stay in tune. Cool. He describes his new musical emphasis as "turning on amps and shoving buttons around more than getting fussy about it."
    In many ways it was Coxon's refusal to be 'normal' that saw him achieve his current status. "I never used to be confident enough to push my point across, I'd allow my parts to be tamed down - I'd let the engineer lower the distortion level and things like that. I was also quite fussy about making my parts perfect, and kind of regret that. Now I figure I've got to be selfish or I'm going to be unhappy. I just have to say 'Fuck off', I'm going to have noise everywhere if I want. I've finally found myself and I've almost got it together as a guitarist - that's a strange thing to discover after four albums..."



TECHNIQUE

Graham has a vast range of techniques to call on - give him a chord structure and he'll add trademarks 'stamping' rhytmic variations, f**ked up blues licks and cheeky Hendrixy flicks until it's unrecognisable - or at least recognisably his own.
    It's this skill that made producer Stephen Street proclaim Coxon "the best guitarist he's ever worked with - he thinks of things even Johnny Marr wouldn't." Street, incidentally, produced the early Smiths sessions for the first LP.
    Still, it doesn't take Street to point out the uniqueness of Coxon's playing - just take a listen to the last single On Your Own, especially the mutant delay/ring modulator that kicks in at the end of each phrase. There's simply no one else playing stuff as bizarre - and yep, as brilliant - as this.



Guitar: Fender '52 reissure Telecaster
Finest moment: Song 2 (intro)
From the album: Blur (Parlophone)

Harry Wylie
Typed up by Veikko's Blur Page
 

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