Britpop boys Blur will be releasing a new compilation album to coincide with their upcoming reunion tour. Titled Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide to Blur, the two cd set will feature 25 tracks picked from their seven studio albums. Truly a beginner’s guide, it’s a shame that there are no bootlegs, b-sides or live recordings featured here, although one notes the inclusion of ‘Popscene’, which was released as a single/video in 1992, but did not appear on an album.
Although the band have already released a ‘Best of’ album, any new releases from this quartet are more than welcome – let’s hope they get cracking on some new material!
Girls & Boys
Coffee & TV
Out Of Time
He Thought Of Cars
Death Of A Party
This Is A Low
She’s So High
Strange News From Another Star
Battery In Your Leg
The Spinning Top
* * *
I feel somewhat at ease discussing Coxon’s works. His picture adorned the cover of my physics book
in high school; I was distraught by his 2003 departure from Blur and elated at the news that the
band were to reform and play Hyde Park in July. You could call me a fan, and as such, I entitle
myself to an overly informed critique.
Graham Coxon is a virtuoso in the best sense – he can play any tune after hearing it just once,
on a huge variety of instruments, and has produced, mixed, done the artwork for and played most
of the instruments on the bulk of his seven solo albums, not to mention all of the work he has
done with Blur and Pete Doherty.
His seventh offering, The Spinning Top is a concept album that narrates the story of a man’s life,
from birth until death. While it is no secret that Coxon is a master of intricate finger-picking,
rabid solos and diverse experimentation, The Spinning Top can first fall flat on your eardrums.
Spanning 15 tracks, The Spinning Top feels like a lengthy album, and one can’t help but balk
at the abundance of solely acoustic tracks.
‘In The Morning’ is a charming, almost Beatles-esque track, but at eight and a half minutes
long, drags its feet. Something about the shift to emulate his folk heroes emphasizes the
thin tinniness of Coxon’s vocals, and not in the ‘You’re So Great’ way.
Things liven up significantly on the stompalong ditty that is ‘Dead Bees’ – complete with
the welcome inclusion of droning backing vocals and sound effects. ‘Sorrow’s Army’ is a great
compromise in being a light sounding lesson in what great finger picking should sound like,
without skimping on the percussion or dance factor.
An admirable effort, but one that will likely leave the listener reaching for one of
Coxon’s gruntier, kick-pedal-distorted-megaphone-reverb-feedback albums in its place.
Crank it up loud.
The Spinning Top is out now on Transgressive Records.
The Apple War is opening for another great local Seattle band, the Purrs Monday night, May 18th at Neumos. I suggest you go. I saw the Apple War a couple weeks ago at the Sunset and they actually made me happy. Do you know how hard positive music is to do? I think it’s really hard to do well and I am enjoying their CD, Alarm Bell City, especially All Signs Point to Yes (Try, Try, Try).