Nobody paid all that much attention to the three solo albums released by Graham Coxon between 1998 and 2001 while he was still part of Blur. To be fair, none of the records were remotely commercial or all that accessible and could easily be dismissed as vanity projects to while away the time in between recording and touring with his ‘mates’.
After he unexpectedly and rather messily left the band in 2002 he seemed to make more of an effort to write and record material that would be more easily enjoyed as exemplified by the release of Happiness In Magazines in May 2004.
The album was preceded by the release of two excellent singles – Freakin’ Out and Bittersweet Bundle of Misery. The former, with its guitar work eerily reminiscent of the late Stuart Adamson mixed in with a touch of J Mascis, actually made a little bit of history as it charted solely on the basis of sales of a limited 7″ release (just 5000 copies were pressed) in an era when single sales were predominently via CDs. The latter was more Blur-like than any of his ‘mates’ had been churning out – it was almost as if he’d taken the formula that had made Coffee And TV such a hit and decided to replicate it – and it took him to the giddy heights of #22 in the singles chart.
The album’s release was met largely with positive reviews – many made the point that him reuniting with producer Stephen Street had clearly paid dividends in that the record was a return to stylish and classy guitar music full of catchy and occasionally ambitious tunes. It was an album that would lead to him being named as Best Solo Artist in 2005 by NME.
Freakin’ Out was proving to be the most popular song on the album and was being best received during the live shows which accompanied its promotion and so the decision was taken to re-issue it as a single in October 2004, this time across a multitude of formats and as a double-A release with All Over Me, a ballad from the LP that brought to mind many of his Britpop contemporaries and highlighted that it wasn’t just Damon Albarn who could pen the tear-jerkers. This time round the single hit #19 and gave him his highest ever chart placing.
The bonus track on the CD was a previously unreleased track and while it has some great guitar work, it does kind of highlight Graham’s limited vocal abilities.
But listen closely to one of the verses that is repeated a few times during the song and you’ll hear a magnificent two fingers to the other members of Blur for more or less giving him the sack a couple of years previously:-
Get rid of me
And they’re kicking my arse
But they gotta because