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© Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

It seems laughable now at almost 30 years’ remove that when Blur first emerged they were viewed with suspicion as baggy bandwagon jumpers; Happy Mondays-lite interlopers intent on rinsing the last drop of action out of the fashion for Funky Drummer rhythms

But while Damon Albarn’s versatility as a songwriter over the past three decades has often been viewed as dilettantism – he can flit effortlessly between pure pop to punk, music hall to cultured balladeering – the quality of his work has been astonishing. When the public sat up and took notice of There’s No Other Way, firing the band into the Top 10, Blur were seen as yet another addition to the current roster of dance-rock bands. But they were so much more than Mondays wannabes and in a different league to the likes of The Farm, Flowered Up, Inspiral Carpets and The Mock Turtles.

Leisure has at least two trump cards; Albarn’s singular ability as a songwriter and the immense talent of guitarist Graham Coxon – along with The Stone Roses’ John Squire and The Verve’s Nick McCabe, he’s the pre-eminent six-string technician of his era.

Albarn dislikes only two albums in his career, Leisure, which he describes as “awful” and The Great Escape (“messy”). He’s wrong about Blur’s debut, though. While it has a little filler, there are enough standout moments here to make this one of the best opening gambit LPs of the decade.

Despite four producers having a hand in Leisure, it still feels coherent; no doubt down to Albarn and Coxon’s assured hands on the sonic tiller.

The woozy psychedelia of opener She’s So High impresses and the funky Bang finds Coxon and drummer Dave Rowntree locking down a spectacular spiralling groove. Alongside classic single There’s No Other Way, Sing hinted that this quartet were capable of something rather special, head and shoulders above knocking out indie disco baggy floorfillers; the dark piano-led epic boasted an ambition that far exceeded the material around it.


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About Classic Pop

In the latest issue of Classic Pop we have a world exclusive interview with Duran Duran who reveal all about their forthcoming new studio album and the iconic show they played for NASA to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. A candid Gary Numan talks to us about his 40 years as a ground-breaking icon of electronic music and Kim Wilde explains why it’s taken her 38 years to release her first live album, plus we also chat to Metronomy’s Joe Mount about his band’s ambitious new studio LP.

For our latest album-by-album feature we examine the amazing back catalogue of Blur and we also look back at the technology that drove the electro revolution with the help of members of the Human League and Landscape. 

Our classic album is Prince’s Sign O’ The Times and we also meet his collaborator Cat Glover to hear about her recollections of the project.

Our packed new album reviews section includes Charli XCX, Kim Wilde, Bon Iver, Keane, Chrissie Hynde, The Brand New Heavies and more. On the reissues front, we serve up a selection including Prefab Sprout, Goldfrapp, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Somerville, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. In our live reviews section, we check out shows by New Order, kd lang, Stevie Wonder, Jenny Lewis and more.

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