The Great Escape (Blur album)

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The Great Escape
Studio album by Blur
Released 11 September 1995
Recorded January–May 1995, Maison Rouge, Townhouse Studios, London
Genre Britpop
Length 56:56
Label Food, Virgin
Producer Stephen Street
Blur chronology
The Brit Pop Blur Box
(1994)
The Great Escape
(1995)
Live at the Budokan
(1996)
Singles from The Great Escape
  1. "Country House"
    Released: 14 August 1995
  2. "The Universal"
    Released: 13 November 1995
  3. "Stereotypes"
    Released: 12 February 1996
  4. "Charmless Man"
    Released: 29 April 1996
  5. "It Could Be You"
    Released: 22 May 1996 (Japan)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
NME (9/10)[2]
Pitchfork Media (8.2/10)[3]
Q 5/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (neither)[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[6]

The Great Escape is the fourth studio album by the English rock band Blur, released on 11 September 1995 on Food and Virgin Records. 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)[citation needed] and was their first to crack the US charts reaching number 150.[7] Less than a year after the album was released, it was certified triple platinum in the UK.[8]

The album continued the band's run of hit singles, with "Country House", "The Universal", "Stereotypes" and "Charmless Man". "Country House" was Blur's first single to chart at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, beating Oasis' "Roll with It", in a chart battle dubbed "The Battle of Britpop".

Background and recording[edit]

Concept[edit]

On 17 June 1995, James and Albarn spoke on BBC Radio 1 about coming up with a title for the album;[9] "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"[citation needed]. 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[citation needed]. Albarn himself stated in 2007, "I've made two bad records. The first album, which is awful, and The Great Escape, which was messy".[10]

Songs[edit]

"Mr. Robinson's Quango" was the first song recorded for the album,[11] whilst "It Could Be You" was the last, in May 1995.[12] 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.[13]

"Yuko & Hiro" was originally titled "Japanese Workers",[14] 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.[14]

One song on the album, "Ernold Same", features Ken Livingstone, then an MP and later the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He is credited in the sleevenotes as "The Right-On" Ken Livingstone. The character seems to have been named after Pink Floyd's Arnold Layne.[11]

As with Blur's previous two albums, the liner notes also contain guitar chords for each of the songs along with the lyrics.

Singles[edit]

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.[11] "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[edit]

All songs by Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree.

  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 (Feat. Ken Livingstone)" – 2:07
  12. "Globe Alone" – 2:23
  13. "Dan Abnormal" – 3:24
  14. "Entertain Me" – 4:19
  15. "Yuko and Hiro" – 5:24
Japanese bonus tracks
  1. "Ultranol" – 2:41
  2. "No Monsters in Me" – 5:14

Personnel[edit]

  • Damon Albarn – vocals, piano, keyboards, organ, synthesizer, handclaps
  • Graham Coxon – electric and acoustic guitar, banjo, saxophone, backing vocals, handclaps
  • Alex James – bass guitar
  • Dave Rowntree – drums, percussion
  • Simon Clarke, Tim Sanders – saxophone
  • J. Neil Sidwell – trombone
  • Roddy Lorimer – trumpet
  • Louise Fuller, Richard Koster – violin
  • John Metcalfe – viola
  • Ivan McCermoy – cello
  • Ken Livingstone – narration on "Ernold Same"
  • Theresa Davis, Angela Murrell – backing vocals on "The Universal"
  • Cathy Gillat – backing vocals on "Yuko and Hiro"
  • Jason Cox – studio manager
  • John Smith – engineer
  • Julie Gardner, Tom Girling – assistant engineers
  • Nels Israelson, Tom King – photography

Charts and certifications[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Great Escape (Blur album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ NME review
  3. ^ Pitchfork review
  4. ^ Clements, Paul (10 December 2008). "Blur: the Britpop boys are back, but do we want them?". Telegraph. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Robert Christgau review
  6. ^ Rolling Stone Album Guide
  7. ^ "Blur Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  8. ^ BPI Certified Awards Search British Phonographic Industry. Note: reader must define "Search" parameter as "Blur".
  9. ^ "• discography • blur • the great escape". Blurcentral.co.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Digital Spy – Albarn cusses own albums.". Retrieved 11 May 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c "Blur – The Great Escape – album info". Vblurpage.com. 11 September 1995. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "The History of Blur – 1995–1997". Vblurpage.com. 12 August 1995. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Superbrands case studies: The National Lottery – Brand Republic News". Brand Republic. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  14. ^ a b "The Great Escape". Blur Talk. 17 June 1995. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  15. ^ "Australian chart positions". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Austrian chart positions". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  17. ^ http://swisscharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Blur&titel=The+Great+Escape&cat=a
  18. ^ http://swisscharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Blur&titel=The+Great+Escape&cat=a
  19. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (1995). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 
  20. ^ "Dutch chart positions". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (1995). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 
  22. ^ http://swisscharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Blur&titel=The+Great+Escape&cat=a
  23. ^ "French chart positions". lescharts.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "German album positions". musicline.de. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (1995). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 
  26. ^ http://www.hitparadeitalia.it/hp_yenda/lpe1995a.htm
  27. ^ "ブラーのCDアルバムランキング" [Blur – best-selling album ranking on the Oricon]. oricon.co.jp. Oricon Style. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "New Zealand chart positions". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "Norwegian chart positions". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  30. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  31. ^ "Swedish chart positions". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "Swiss chart positions". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "British chart positions". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  34. ^ "Blur Album & Song Chart History". billboard.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  35. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Blur – The Great Escape". Music Canada. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  36. ^ "French album certifications – Blur – The Great Escape" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select BLUR and click OK
  37. ^ "Les Albums Or :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  38. ^ "RIAJ > The Record > November 1995 > Certified Awards (September 1995)". Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  39. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – Blur – The Great Escape" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  40. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  41. ^ "British album certifications – Blur – The Great Escape". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 May 2013.  Enter The Great Escape in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  42. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1996". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
Preceded by
Zeitgeist by The Levellers
UK number one album
23 September 1995 – 6 October 1995
Succeeded by
Daydream by Mariah Carey