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Blur 21: The Box


Jul 30, 2012 Web Exclusive
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It’s been 21 years since Blur released its debut, 1991’s Leisure, an album that picked up where The Stone Roses left off and represented the first step in a career that both defined and shaped what we know as Britpop. With this anniversary of sorts, the band decided it was a great time for a career-spanning box set. Though familiar foes and Britpop contemporaries Oasis made a bigger splash in the States, Blur possessed a much greater and better variety of pop proficiency through its career. From the early psychedelic tinges of Leisure through the pure Britpop defining sounds of 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish and 1994’s Parklife, as well as later excursions into more varied and experimental territory with 1999’s 13 and 2003’s Think Tank, Blur was always the more adventurous and expressive band in the Blur v. Oasis debate.

With Blur 21, the band brings the mother lode. All seven of its albums are collected in remastered form, each with an extra CD of rarities and unreleased material (over five and a half hours of unreleased tracks!). Four additional CDs compile even more unreleased material. Three DVDs are included: one documenting a live concert from 1994, one a show from 1999, and a third featuring live rarities, the band’s first television performance, and promotional videos. Also here are book and a 7” single with an early song recorded when the band was called Seymour. (An LP box and 2-disc reissues of each album are available separately.)

The music extras encompass demos and rehearsals of the band’s best and most well-known tracks are included. Acoustic versions, remixes of later-era tracks, and BBC performances abound. Songs from the band’s aborted Bill Laswell and Andy Partridge sessions are featured. Heck, there’s even a cover of “Maggie May.” Like the intrepid explorer might say when coming upon the buried pirate treasure in your favorite adventure movie: It’s all here! It’s a treasure trove of Britpop and English musical history, a veritable panoply of musical goodness. It’s an extraordinary document of an extraordinary band. (

Author rating: 9.5/10

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