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2009

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Paul Morley’s Showing Off… Damon Albarn

PM: Let me ask you first of all whether the Blur reunion has given you a better or different understanding of your place in the pop firmament.

DA: That was really strange because it was a very disciplined time. I stopped drinking entirely. I stopped making this Gorillaz record, which has been all-consuming, for three months as well, because I’d got to a point where there was no way I could do that and that at the same time. And bit by bit we got back up to the level we were at when we were at our prime. Where it was stadiums, and everyone was singing, and it was very euphoric. And then after the last gig in Scotland I got on the train and left it all behind. That’s it. I haven’t thought about it since. I haven’t watched any of the gigs, I haven’t watched Glastonbury. I had to approve a few of the live things that inevitably come out of that sort of thing, but I haven’t given it any thought. For me it was so nice to do that again and know that I left on a good note with Graham, Alex and Dave. I didn’t come offstage thinking “I’M A ROCK STAR!” at all, I really didn’t. It was really strange. I enjoyed it, I loved every second of it, it was incredibly emotional, there was a real resonance, I really felt the songs had lasted and in a way they’d been a vision of Britain as it is now. So all of that stuff. But when it finished it was like well, we’ve all got to get on with our lives now, don’t think this was… it was a really nice holiday, a real treat, a real honour to be able to experience. You can’t underestimate the feeling of 120,000 people at Glastonbury just singing every word back to you. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s unbelievable. I suppose the only thing that’s come out of it maybe is that I’ve worked a lot harder making my lyrics and my melodies clear on this Gorillaz album. That’s probably what has come out of this summer’s experience. Read More

The Eccles Cake that Changed Everything

By John Harris 

Is this a Japanese translation?” asks Damon Albarn, staring at a set of his lyrics balanced on a music stand. “All it says is, ‘I talk/I talk/I talk/ The picture.’ ” It’s a Tuesday lunchtime in north London. The four members ofBlur are in a tiny rehearsal room, free of both fresh air and windows. As a crash course in their own history, they have decided to rehearse five of their seven albums in their entirety: today, it’s the turn of 13, a record made with the producer William Orbit which captured the long hangover after Britpop, the end of one of that period’s most celebrated relationships, and the unsettling, troublesome aspects of youngish London living. Read More

It was all a bit of a Blur…

They have been one of the most innovative and influential bands of the past 20 years. As Blur re-form for a series of concerts next month, Ally Carnwath, Miranda Sawyer and Imogen Carter speak to those who know them best about the hedonism of 90s Britpop, Damon Albarn’s panic attacks – and that battle with Oasis.

Early Years

Nigel Hildreth

Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon’s music teacher at Stanway school, Colchester

I started teaching Damon in 1980 when he was 11 or 12 and Graham the year after.

Damon could be absolutely infuriating because he had lots of talent and he didn’t always focus it. He took A-level music but failed it. His compositions and performance were good, but most of the exam concentrated on musical analysis and it didn’t help that he didn’t even bring his scores into the exam.

Graham was a very different character, much more diffident. Damon had moved from London, so he was an outsider, and Graham wasn’t part of the Essex scene. But music was a really good place where people who were not part of the normal scene could find a refuge. Read More

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From the life of Leisure to inside the Think Tank…

As BLUR prepare for 2009’s biggest comeback, Uncut goes behind the scenes of the sessions that produced their classic albums and reveals the conflicts that nearly destroyed them.
WWhen Blur headline this year’s Glastonbury for the first of their summer reunion shows, it will be nearly a decade since the original lineup last appeared together onstage.
The occasion will offer not just a chance to hear once again the songs that made Blur one of the best-loved British bands of their generation, but more crucially also mark a very public reconciliation between singer Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon, who famously walked out on the band during the 2003 sessions for their final studio album, Think Tank.
When that split finally came – with Coxon battling alcoholism and the rest of the band increasingly disillusioned with their roles as the Pearly Kings of Britpop – it seemed irrevocable. By then, the festering acrimony that had soured their last days together had become unmanageable, as we discover via the candid accounts of Stephen Street, William Orbit and Ben Hillier, the producers of their classic albums, who were often astonished eye-witnesses to the creative tensions, tears, tantrums, drugs and wild living that inspired much great music and simultaneously tore them apart, creating a rift that has only now been healed. Read More