Blur Vs. Oasis and a
radical change in Iceland
1995 - Blur win four Brit Awards for
Best Band, Best Single ("Parklife"),
Best Video ("Parklife") and Best Album
(Parklife). The band have begun
recording The Great Escape at Maison
Rouge, with Stephen Street producing once more. Starshaped
(this time without promo videos) and Showtime
1995 - Blur re-record "To The
End" with Francoise Hardy at Abbey Road
Studios. The result is later released as a single
1995 - Recording for The Great
Escape is completed. "It Could Be
You" is the last track to be done.
1995 - The legendary Mile End gig is
held to over 27,000 fans. As well as all the
favourites, several new tracks from The Great
Escape are played for the first time.
1995 - Damon records a track called
with Terry Hall
for his next solo record.
- The Blur /
Oasis war begins. Creation and EMI hype the media
- not just the music press, but the news
bulletins too - into a huge battle between the
bands. "Country House" will now become
the first single. It is going up against Oasis'
"Roll With It". Orginally they were to
be released on seperate dates but both are
scheduled for sale the same day. Damon guests on
a radio breakfast show via phone where he is
played "Roll With It". He dubs it
"Quoasis", and starts singing
"Down, down, deeper and down..." The
following Sunday the Top 40 chart is read out on
Radio 1, revealing that Blur have entered at
Number 1. Oasis are at Number 2. "Country
House" had sold 274,000 copies in the first
week of release in the UK. Food and EMI hold
celebrations, though Graham wants none of it and
goes out to the seaside, far away from record
company employees. Already Blur are starting to
wear themselves out.
1995 - The Great Escape is
released to madly enthusiastic reviews. In truth,
however, the record is a mediocre follow-up to Parklife.
Half of the songs sound more like parodies of
Blur. The best songs are where the band get
gloomy - "Entertain Me", "Yuko
& Hiro" and "Best Days". Oasis
guitarist Noel Gallagher
heightens the war between the bands by telling The
Observer that he hopes Albarn and James "catch fucking AIDS
and die". Blur
a tour of British seaside towns and make a Beatles-style
appearance on the roof of HMV's Oxford Street store.
1995 - The band plan to release the
follow up to Starshaped and Showtime.
However, the film was never released because the
band and film makers found it too dark. "It
seemed to be a just a painful reminder of things
that happened to all of us," says film
producer Ceri Levy.
1995 - "The Universal" is
released as the second single from The Great
Escape. The band tours Japan and later in
the month start an arena tour in the UK.
1995 - Blur perform a triumphant set at
the Wembley Arena, but relations in the band are
now becoming more frayed. The band gives an
interview to Adrian Deevoy of Q
magazine (which is not printed until the
following February) which reveal the state of
affairs. He writes: "Graham is grumpy and
drinking too much, he thinks Alex is being a
tosser; Alex and Damon aren't seeing eye to eye,
Damon thinks Alex is taking too many drugs and
overdoing the pop star bit; Alex thinks Graham
and Damon have sided against him and that Damon
is becoming a little too megalomanic for his
liking. [...] No-one can quite figure out what
Dave is thinking. Graham privately suspects that
Dave might be an alien." Damon also gives
the quote: "The only thing we've got in
common with Oasis is the fact that we're both
doing shit in America." This quote looks
rather silly in a couple of months...
1996 - Late in the month during a tour
of America, Blur realize that once again the tide
of critical opinion is turning against them.
Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
climbs towards the US Top 10 with sales of
100,000 a week. The Great Escape will
sell 122,000 American copies in total. A Blur
backlash is looming in the horizon.
1996 - On the first of February, Damon's
"we're both doing shit in America"
quote is printed in Q just as
Morning Glory enters the US Top 5.
Blur are still touring America and recording
B-sides as they do so. During the recording of
"St. Louis", a huge row blows up
between Damon and Graham. The next morning things
are patched up, but it's clear that the band need
a rest. Blur are about to undergo a complete
change of style - one of the new B-sides,
"Tame", points to their new direction.
This song is released on the new single, "Stereotypes".
- The American tour over, Damon takes a holiday
in Iceland. The country revitalises him. He later
says: "They have a sense of community there
which, coming from Essex, I never had
- Damon has the now famous meeting with
Pavement's Steve Malkmus. He
tells them that Blur have a good reputation on
the US alternative scene - they are viewed as
"odd, instinctive, isolationist and
eccentric". Pavement are to become one of
many influences on the new songs Damon is
writing, along with Can and Faust.
"Charmless Man" becomes the final
single and third Top 5 hit from The Great
- The Japanese import album Live At The
- Graham gives up drinking the cold turkey way.
"In my head I had the sign of the pint glass
and the wine glass with a big red X through
them," he says. Blur debut "Song
2" and "Chinese Bombs" to an
ecstatic reception at RDS Showgrounds in Dublin.
They then fly off from Ireland to Iceland in
Pulp's plane with producer Stephen Street and
engineer John Smith to work on
their fifth album. The band have confirmed they
won't play any gigs in the UK this year.
to Autumn 1996 - While the band are
away, Alex's project Me Me Me gets it's one and
only record released, which was recorded earlier
in the year. In Iceland, the band record some
material for their new album. While there the
band relations improve dramatically, and they
spend some time seeing the sights with Pulp,
visiting geo-thermal swimming pools ("It's
like taking a bath in egg," says Graham) and
riding horses at midnight in full sunlight. John
Smith has a lucky escape when he narrowly avoids
falling down a gigantic crevice in the
deceptively solid-looking ground. The material
completed, they fly back to England. There they
record the final track, "I'm Just A Killer
For Your Love".
1996 - The album, now to be known as
just Blur, is mixed and mastered.
January 1997 - Blur
begin promoting the album, giving interviews to
all sorts of magazines, radio shows and TV
programmes. The new single,
"Beetlebum", is previewed on some
shows. Critics of the band say that the band are
doing a cop-out, and that the single will be a
commerical failure. At the end of the month, it
enters the charts at Number 1.
1997 - Damon and Graham fly to New York
to promote the album to America. They now have a
new label there, Virgin, who are more sympathetic
to them than SBK were. Alex flies to Miami to
play bass on Marianne Faithfull's
new album. Blur is released in the UK,
and gets mostly good reviews.
- The album is released in the US. Virgin and
Blur decide upon "Song 2" as the first
American single. It turns out to be a very good
choice. Following heavy MTV airplay, "Song
2" finally breaks Blur in America.
- "Song 2" is released in the UK and it
enters the charts at Number 2.
- The album is proving to be Blur's most
successful album worldwide. "On Your
Own" is released as the third single from
the new album.
- Blur play the two V97 concerts at Chelmsford
and Leeds. They are the first band to sell out
all tickets and perform a brilliant set at the
1997 - Blur begin a worldwide tour, beginning in
America. Kids who wouldn't have understanded Blur at all
formerly mosh away at Blur concerts. "M.O.R." becomes
the final single from the self-titled album.
to November 1997 - The Blur
tour moves to other countries, like Australia
where Blur have become big. An NME
interview conducted with them in Sydney finds
them in high spirits.
1997 - Blur end up back in the UK to
wind up the tour with some arena concerts. The
band suddenly announces that they are giving up
touring for the foreseeable future, though they
don't rule out any one-off shows. Damon tells
Stephen Street that he wants to work with new
producer on the next album. Street is
dissapointed, but can understand Damon wanting to
try something new.