Back in 1992, I bought a 12” single from a clearance/bargain bin in a record shop in Edinburgh for 99p. It was by Blur, and at the time all that I knew about them, as I was going through a phase of not buying music papers or magazines, was that I had quite enjoyed There’s No Other Way, their hit single from a few months previously.

The single I purchased that day was called Popscene.

Years pass, and this bit of vinyl has now become a lot more valuable. While it did reach No.32 in the charts, it was a record that was deleted shortly afterwards, never to appear again. It wasn’t included on the 1993 LP Modern Life Is Rubbish, nor was it included on the CD of the Greatest Hits package that Blur released in 2000. Bizarrely enough, it did appear on the Greatest Hits DVD, and it was played live on the Greatest Hits tour when the set-list consisted of all the singles played in the sequence they were released.

Incidentally, I was at the Edinburgh gig of that tour which was the opening night of the Corn Exchange venue. It was a strange one – aside from hating the layout and acoustic of that venue (a view I hold to this very day), it was odd knowing precisely which song the band was going to launch into next. It took away all of the anticipation of wondering about what may or may not be on the set-list that night.

But back to Popscene.

I’ve no idea why the band have made it so difficult to get a copy of this record. Perhaps it’s their way of rewarding all the long-term fans who were around prior to the success of ‘Modern Life’ and the phenomena that was Parklife. If I did want to flog it, I could ask for £20-£25 as a minimum…not a huge amount of money but not bad for something out of the bargain bin.

As for the song itself, I think it’s one of the band’s best. It was more frantic and less poppy than the stuff that had featured on the debut album and was an indication of the sort of sounds that would come out on the next LP, which I still reckon was one of the best released in the 1990s.

mp3 : Blur – Popscene

Three tracks were on the b-side, all of which are well worth a listen:-

mp3 : Blur – I’m Fine
mp3 : Blur – Mace
mp3 : Blur – Garden Central

I’m Fine could fit on either of the band’s first two albums in that it is sort of baggy sounding in places but it’s hinting also at the more classic pop material that would appear on Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Mace is perhaps let down a little bit by a less than stellar vocal – it’s almost as if the band has come up with a slightly out-of-kilter tune that Damon Albarn at that point in his career wasn’t entirely comfortable with….but once the hits eventually came, he would prove to have no such problems. It’s a song that wouldn’t have felt out of place on 13 a few years later.

Garden Central is a real curio….clocking in at the best part of six minutes in length. It’s an instrumental and very much displays the talents of Graham Coxon. It’s the sort of tune that I’ve long thought coule be taken and mixed to within an inch of its life to make a great dance number.

Maybe Blur weren’t as lauded as the likes of Suede or Oasis for the quality of their b-sides, but there’s no doubting they were always willing to offer something a wee bit different.

And I’m just saying….if anyone fancies it….there hasn’t yet been a Blur ICA (I don’t expect Drew to make the offer mind you……)



6 thoughts on “HEY, HEY, COME OUT TONIGHT

  1. Popscene was not the hit the band or label thought/hoped it would be. They were gutted. It was planned for the second album, along with the follow-up single Never Clever, but when Popscene bombed, they scrapped plans for Never Clever’s release. After the second album was rejected by the label (who wanted it to include some “hits”), the band decided Popscene should left off altogether in a bit of a strop. “We thought if you bastards didn’t want it then [when put out as a single], then you’re not getting it now.” Since then they’ve held true to that outlook and never released it again, despite many believing it to be one of their finest moments. Never Clever remains an obscurity…

    Garden Central was a cracking b-side. When the Beastie Boys reviewed the single in Melody Maker the week of release, they reckoned Garden Central should have been the A-side.

    Sorry for the nerdiness – I just love the seccond album era of Blur to the point of near obsession…

  2. I’m with TheRobster71, in that that period of Blur is my favourite and, for me, Modern Life Is Rubbish is their best album. Popscene wasn’t included on their Greatest Hits release, you’re right, but it was included on their other career retrospective Midlife.

    It also appeared on a Polydor promo CD, one of their “A Flavour Of The Label” promo’s (but I can’t remember which one – 1 or 2, maybe?)

    I tend to think of Popscene as the song that saved Blur, the first public release in which they really found themselves. I might be wrong, but without it I think they’d probably only remembered now in the same way that, say, Northside are.

    The other great legacy of Popscene, of course, is that it inadvertently bequeathed its name to a host of indie club nights around the country.

    Oh, and a live version (recorded at John Peel’s house) surfaced on the B-side of On Your Own. And since we’re talking live versions, it’s also track 3 of semi-rare(ish) live album Live At The Budokan.

  3. Got it Adam….finally finding some time tonight to catch up on the Inbox….there’ll be a reply in due course!!!!

  4. The Birth of Britpop?
    This was Blur’s re-invention from Baggy also-rans into something a bit more interesting.
    There’s a touch of Syd Barrett going on in there, and the (almost) whimsical Britishness continued with Modern Life Is Rubbish

  5. Holy shit, that could be JJ Burnel from the Stranglers playing bass on ‘Mace’! Exact same Precision bridge tone. Love it – never heard these b-sides and they’re all great. Seems like it must be uncool to like Blur if you’re from the UK or something –everyone’s somewhat apologetic about admitting their interest. Not me, man, I love all their stuff, from the beginning straight on through. Popscene is a killer no matter how it was received.

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