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……)