It’s back to the grindstone this week including this bored as all hell 90 minute tempo spin. GOD I can’t wait until I can ride outside again. Anyway, today’s motivation is the B-sides, rarities and oddball gems from ‘The Special Collector’s Edition‘ album by Blur.
This particular collection of B-sides was released in Japan in 1994. The B-sides are from singles from the albums ‘Leisure‘, ‘Modern Life is Rubbish‘ and ‘Parklife‘…the only three albums that mattered to me back in the day anyway.
Back in university, all my friends were absolutely goo-goo for Blur. I was too. I remember the great head-to-head Blur vs. Oasis battle in the summer of 1994 when ‘Parklife‘ was released at the same time as ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory‘ and sides were firmly drawn clear regarding whose side you were on. I was on Blur’s side (although Oasis likely had the better album).
The album does a fairly good job in collecting many, though by no means all (I have taken a few liberties to fill in some of the gaps), of those B-sides and extra tracks from the band’s first singles through the ‘Parklife‘ era.
As a parallel history of Blur’s development from semi-Madchester/semi-shoegazer art school rock to Brit-pop flag wavers, it’s manna for fans as well as being interesting in its own right. A fair number of songs could easily have ended up on the group’s albums based on overall quality, while other tunes, if not as strong, often have a certain standalone charm. Among the earliest tracks, ‘Luminous‘ is noteworthy for its slightly stoned and zoned flavor, Dave Rowntree’s percussion almost echoing early Pink Floyd jams, while ‘Mace‘, originally a B-side to ‘Popscene‘, shows Blur starting to come to grips with a catchier form of whimsy. The ‘Modern Life‘ B-sides are an interesting mixed bag, ranging from the sweet electric psych/acoustic folk drift of ‘Peach‘ to the trebly art-punk blast of ‘Fried‘. The ‘Parklife‘ tracks show the increasingly ambitious group fully coming into their own, with everything from the goofy carousel-music romp ‘Anniversary Waltz‘ to the sweeping, gently self-mocking ‘Theme from an Imaginary Film‘. A lovely final touch is the version of ‘Bank Holiday‘ at the very end – the song itself is an album cut from ‘Parklife‘, but the rough kazoos-only performance is in fact by seven female fans at Tokyo Airport.
Among the most inspirational tunes which, thankfully, came towards the end of the spin when I was pretty much dead to the world were ‘Garden Central‘ and the extended mix of ‘I Know‘. What kick ass tracks!
Truthfully, I’m not sure how many of these long ass hard efforts on a stationary bike I have in me. I know they’re making me a better and stronger rider but, still…
Plus, I’m pretty sure that after a few more spins the floor boards under my spin bike will likely give out thanks to all the sweat I’m leaking out onto it, sending me crashing through the floor and into the lobby below.
I wish anyway.