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The Great Escape
Studio album by Blur
Released 11 September 1995
Recorded January–May 1995
Genre Britpop
Length 56:56
Label Food, Virgin
Producer Stephen Street
Professional reviews
Blur chronology
Parklife
(1994)
The Great Escape
(1995)
Blur
(1997)

The Great Escape is the fourth album by English alternative rock band Blur, released on 11 September 1995. The album received glowing reviews and was a big seller on its initial release, reaching number one in the United Kingdom album chart (outselling the rest of the Top 10 put together) and was their first to crack the US charts reaching number 150. The album was certified triple platinum in UK.

The album continues the run of inventive hit singles: "Country House" (their first #1 single, which beat Oasis' "Roll With It" in a chart battle dubbed The Battle of Britpop), "The Universal", "Stereotypes" and "Charmless Man".

Contents

Background and recording

Concept

On June 17, 1995, James and Albarn spoke on BBC Radio 1 about coming up with a title for the album;[2] "We've got until this Wednesday, our record company inform us, to come up with it," said Damon. "We've been trying to get 'life' into it, but nothing was very good – 'Wifelife', 'Darklife', 'Nextlife'," added Alex.

The album is in the style of a concept album, that is, most of the songs are linked by a similar theme—loneliness and detachment. Ten of the fifteen tracks have a distinct reference to being lonely. Damon Albarn subsequently revealed that most, if not all the songs on The Great Escape were about himself, in some form or another (e.g. "Dan Abnormal" is an anagram for "Damon Albarn"). He later admitted that the album would have made "a great musical". However, dissension over musical direction between Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon would result in a change in style for the next release, 1997's Blur. Albarn himself stated in 2007, "I've made two bad records. The first record, which is awful, and The Great Escape, which was messy".[3]

Songs

"Mr. Robinson's Quango" was the first song recorded for the album,[4] whilst "It Could Be You" was the last, in May 1995.[5] The title of the latter was taken from the original advertising slogan of the United Kingdom's multi-million-pound-prize National Lottery, which had drawn much public interest after its inception the previous year, though the lyric itself refers to gambling in only the most oblique ways.[6]

"Yuko & Hiro" was originally titled "Japanese Workers",[7] whilst "The Universal" was first attempted during the Parklife sessions as a ska number. During the making of The Great Escape the song was resurrected by James , who notes in his autobiography, Bit of a Blur, that the band had almost given up on getting it to work when Albarn came up with the string section.[7]

One song on the album, "Ernold Same", features Ken Livingstone, then an MP and the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He is credited in the sleevenotes as "The Right-On", a character which seems to have been named for Pink Floyd's Arnold Layne.[4] Unusually for an album, the liner notes also contain guitar chords for each of the album's songs, as well as lyrics.

Singles

The album spawned four hit singles for the band with "Country House", "The Universal", "Stereotypes" and "Charmless Man". "Stereotypes" made its debut at a secret gig at the Dublin Castle in London and was considered as the album's lead single, but "Country House" got a bigger reaction from fans.[4] "Country House" gave the band their first number 1 single, beating Oasis to the top spot. "The Universal" and "Charmless Man" both reached the top 5, whilst "Stereotypes" peaked at number 7. In Japan, "It Could Be You" was released as a 4-track single, featuring b-sides recorded live at the Budokan.

Track listing

  1. "Stereotypes" – 3:10
  2. "Country House" – 3:57
  3. "Best Days" – 4:49
  4. "Charmless Man" – 3:34
  5. "Fade Away" – 4:19
  6. "Top Man" – 4:00
  7. "The Universal" – 3:58
  8. "Mr. Robinson's Quango" – 4:02
  9. "He Thought of Cars" – 4:15
  10. "It Could Be You" – 3:14
  11. "Ernold Same" – 2:07
  12. "Globe Alone" – 2:23
  13. "Dan Abnormal" – 3:24
  14. "Entertain Me" – 4:19
  15. "Yuko and Hiro" – 5:24

Personnel

Notes

Preceded by
Zeitgeist by The Levellers
UK number one album
23 September 1995 – 6 October 1995
Succeeded by
Daydream by Mariah Carey







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