The long-awaited return of Blur

It’s been a long-time coming – in fact, Damon Albarn himself indicated it might never come out – but it has been announced today that Blur will finally release their eighth album, The Magic Whip, on April 27.

The first track to do the rounds ‘Go Out’ can be bought now, online – and the lyric video – which appears to feature a woman making vanilla ice-cream to compliment the cover art of the album, can be streamed above.

According to NME the album tracklisting is as follows:

‘Lonesome Street’
‘New World Towers’
‘Go Out’
‘Ice Cream Man’
‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’
‘I Broadcast’
‘My Terracotta Heart’
‘There Are Too Many Of Us’
‘Ghost Ship’
‘Ong Ong’

Whilst Blur never officially split, they were inactive for much of the 2000s, after the release of their seventh album, Think Tank. That album featured guitarist Graham Coxon playing on only one track -‘Battery In Your Leg.’ Since 2009, as well as playing live the band have issued two singles ‘Fool’s Day‘ in 2010 and ‘Under The Westway‘/’The Puritan’ in 2012.

I’ve been a fan since the early nineties – and loved these tracks: ‘Fool’s Day’ made no.10 in my Festive Fifty in 2010, while both sides of the 2012 single made the list in 2012.

Excitingly, as well as the already confirmed Hyde Park show in June, there are going to be more live appearances…

Damon Albarn: solo artist – finally!

Damon Albarn sports an Intercity logo on his T-shirt

This year, as was inevitable, you can tell that there’s going to be a big fuss that it marks twenty years since the Britpop era began. True, 1994 was a spectacular year for music (up there with 1967, or 1977 and not far behind 1979), but the really telling thing will be those artists who were part of it but are looking forward rather than looking back.

And this year will see the release of Damon Albarn’s first solo album proper. Released twenty years to the week since Blur’s Parklife came out (April 28), the album is called Everyday Robots and this is the tracklisting:

1) Everyday Robots
2) Hostiles
3) Lonely Press Play
4) Mr Tembo
5) Parakeet
6) The Selfish Giant
7) You And Me
8) Hollow Ponds
9) Seven High
10) Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
11) The History Of A Cheating Heart
12) Heavy Seas Of Love

(as outlined over on God Is In The TV)

The video for the title track can be seen here:

Meanwhile, this has emerged online from a solo gig earlier in the week of him performing ‘Lonely, Press Play.’ It may be a rough video, that ends before the song does, but even that can’t disguise the sheer loveliness of this track:

This is another clip -‘Hollow Ponds’


another track has been unveiled via the NME website

Christmas Posts 2013 part 13


This is an old English carol which Blur gave away at a free gig in London in 1992 (read more about it here ).
Again, as far as I can see it has never had a commercial release (you can see who sang which part here). Interesting to note at this point in their history, Blur were considered washed-up. Over the next three years their story would change utterly.

I have attempted to investigate ‘Wassailing’ and the origin of the song, some sources indicate that Wassailing is to do with drinking good health to one another – but various internet sources point to the song being from either Sussex or Gloucestershire. So any firm info would be much appreciated.

Blur -‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

Christmas Posts 2012 #1


Yup, it’s the return of the annual 17 Seconds Christmas posts!

First up, a song that Blur recorded for a free single 20 years ago. It’s a traditional English carol called the ‘Wassailing Song.’ I posted this last year -and it’s great to look back and see that Blur did come back this year with a new single ‘Under The Westway.’ If it is their last release, it is a mighty fine way to bow out, with dignity and a mighty fine tune. I only ever saw Blur once -around the time of Think Tank but it was a great night. Even if Graham Coxon had left the band by that point…

Blur -‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

For more info on Wassailing, go here

Live on Fresh Air!

Yup, online, live at Fresh AIr

I will be updating as we go along.

1. Blur ‘Under the Westway.’
2. RM Hubbert ‘Car Song.’
3. Nico ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine.’ Cover version of the week
4. The Last Battle ‘ Breathe Bones, Beathe (session track).’
5. Scars ‘Your Attention Please.’ (Gone but not forgotten).
6. Bwani Junction ‘She Ain’t Saying No.’
7. The Last Battle ‘Hope Is Gold (session track).’ Buy the original version from their bandcamp here
8. Carter Damm ‘Clowning (demo).’
9. Stanley Odd ‘Get Out Ma Headspace.’
10. The Last Battle ‘The Butterfly Song (session track).’
11. The Last Battle ‘Ruins (session track).’
12. Cancel The Atronauts ‘I Sold My Soul (And This Is All I Got).’

The return of Blur


It struck me, on Monday night, as I lay in bed listening to the new Blur single on my iPod, just how much has changed since I first heard Blur 21 years ago.

That first time was a Sunday night, as a school bus carried us home, and ‘There’s No Other Way’ was a chart entry on the Top 40. I didn’t even own a CD player then. I was fourteen, and a pretty miserable teenager.

But Blur ended up providing much of the soundtrack of the next twelve years. I bought ‘Popscene’ in 1992 on 7″ (admittedly out of the bargain bin for 25p; years later, having acquired the 12″, I sold it for £5). Over the course of the next three albums –Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape-The band rose steadily to become the biggest band in Britain by 1995 (with the possible exception of Take That). And I still preferred them to Oasis, even when to admit to do so in public was something of a social faux pas.

But Blur were never a band to rest on their laurels. Over the course of their next three albums, 1997’s Blur, 1999’s 13 and 2003’s Think Tank, they pushed the boat out further and further. And they just got better and better. I finally saw them live in late 2003; Graham Coxon had left the band by then, but as I saw them at Glasgow Barrowlands, I felt glad that I had at least got to see them.

Various projects from the band members happened. It wasn’t clear if the band had actually split. But in 2009 they were back together. I felt old when the kids I taught had no idea (and these were teenagers) who this band were that were headlining T In The Park that year. And this year, no-one’s sure if they’ll be doing anything again after a busy summer -but if this is their final single (and the midweek charts suggest it will be yet another top thirty single, their first for nearly nine years) it’s one hell of a way to go out. I think ‘Under The Westway’ evokes ‘Battery In Your Leg,’ ‘Bad Day’ and ‘This Is a Low.’ And b-side ‘The Puritan’ is utterly different again, a post-punk meets lo-fi synth workout.

God bless you, Blur.

What Damon did next


A few days ago, it was the BRIT awards. For those who do not know, this is the British Music Industry Awards, which is largely for and about the industry, rather than artistic merit. However, Blur did win the outstanding achievement award, so I guess something went right, even if Kate Bush and PJ Harvey didn’t win awards they should have done. Ah well.

One of Damon Albarn’s other projects apart from Blur (along with writing Chinese Operas, film scores, making records in Africa etc..) is , of course, being part of the brains behind Gorillaz. He has collaborated with James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) and Andre 3000 (of Outkast) on a new track, being given away free, called ‘Do Ya Thing.’ It’s rather fine…

Follow this link to download the track

Meanwhile, Damon and Graham Coxon (who also has his own new solo album A+E out soon) performed this song at a Pre-BRITS gig on Sunday night. It’s called ‘Under the Westway’ and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Christmas Posts 2011 #21


According to their official website, ‘Blur will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Music award at the 2012 BRIT Awards on 21st February 2012, 21 years since the release of debut album Leisure.’

Now, whilst it’s easy to go on about how what a load of shite the BRIT awards are, at the same time, it does seem right that they are getting recognition of this level – in terms of: a band who have been responsible for some awesome music over the last twenty years.

It’s all the more ironic, then, that at the end of 1992, music press and their record label alike thought that their career was over.

Today’s Christmas song comes from a special track recorded for a gig at this point – read all about it here

Blur -‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

Two more for Christmas


“Trying to take on the X-Factor at Christmas? That’s so 2007.’

The last week has been hectic, what with one thing and another. As far as the blog is concerned, I have done my Festive Fifty and the Top 75 albums of the year…so will continue to enjoy the Christmas music, as we get a week away.

I know next to nothing about how these tracks came into being , but as two of England’s finest bands, I hope you will enjoy. Oh, and nice to see Blur get the recognition they deserve this year…

XTC -‘Thanks for Christmas.’ mp3

Blur – ‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

More Christmas music, tomorrow, folks. Keep it tuned to 17 Seconds. And hope you are keeping safe out there with that mental weather…

Ten for the nineties…1992

Some years in music are pivotal and utterly steeped in meaning and resonance.

1992 was not one of them.

It was summed up by the sheer awfulness of Undercover’s ‘Baker Street’ cover, a hideous dance version of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run To You’ by a band called Rage and the fact that Madonna unleashed a stinker of an album called Erotica, and very possibly showed that you could be over-exposed when she released the infamous Sex book around the same time. It was topped off when Whitney Houston topped the charts with ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Christmas.

The Americans decided that they’d had enough of twelve years of Republicans and elected Bill Clinton to the White House. The Brits were convinced that the Conservatives could not possibly win, and then proceeded to hand them a mandate to rule Britain for the next five years. The big film of the year was Wayne’s World, which led to everyone making statements and then going …NOT! at the end of it. I buried myself deeper in NME, Melody Maker and tippexing my school folders with band names instead of doing as much school work as I should have been. Ah well…

This track was no.1 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty that year. It has to be one of the most requested tracks ever on 17 Seconds. It’s sublime – now watch the video and if you want the mp3 look elsewhere!

Bang Bang Machine -‘Geek Love.’

Some bands are derided for ever. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s time must surely come. Part of the Stourbridge scene (along with Pop Will Eat Itself and the Wonderstuff), this was probably their biggest hit. This was also part of their music compilation Lunatic Magnets which was linked by various clips as the band attempted to do their own version of Reservoir Dogs which was the cult film of the year.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin -‘Not Sleeping Around.’

…and boom! The word ‘Britpop’ had yet to enter the lexicon of the cultural landscape and the so-called ‘scene that celebrates itself’ wasn’t ever going to be a household name kind of thing, but Suede suddenly arrived, looking pretty damn perfet. The music press loved them. Morrissey covered one of their b-sides ‘My Insatiable One.’ Smash Hits claimed David Bowie had invited them to his wedding. Lead singer Brett Anderson claimed he was ‘a bisexual who had never had a homosexual experience’ and was soon being spoken of in the same sentence as both Bowie and Morrissey. In the face of grunge coming in from the US, Suede looked likely to lead the next British assault. In another galaxy their story would have ended far more happily.

Suede -‘The Drowners.’

They say history is written by the victors. ‘They’ may have a point. In the 20/20 perspective that is hindsight, this was Blur’s best single to date. It has been perhaps a little forgotten that at this point Blur were in the doldrums -far more than they would be after The Great Escape three years later seemed to show that they had been overtaken by Oasis. This single limped to no.32, their second album was about to be rejectedby their record company, but Blur knew something we didn’t…

Blur – ‘Popscene.’

…a weird sense of deja vu: at the tail end of 2007, the Black Kids were being hailed by many (including yours truly, less we forget) as being the next big thing. When their debut album was released, the press seemed to turn on them. So it was with Curve, whose first three EPs were far more feted than their eventual debut LP Doppelganger was when it arrived in 1992. A shame, because they were still firing on all cylinders as far as I was concerned…

Curve -‘Fait Accompli.’

I have kicked myself for missing out on a lot of nineties dance culture -too busy listening to Morrissey at the time, as well as going through a ‘I hate everything’ phase, for which I have no-one to blame but myself. However, this DID filter through to me. I only recently realised that Future Sound Of London had been connected with Humanoid, whose classic acid house track ‘Stakker Humanoid’ had made it onto Top Of The Pops four years previously…

Future Sound Of London -‘Papua New Guinea.’

I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Franti, and as frontman of Spearhead, he was the first Hip-Hop act I ever saw live. It could have been this or ‘Television, The Drug Of The Nation’ but thistale of how a homophobe gets his comeuppance is pretty groundbreaking. And as at this time rap was becoming ever more confrontational (which was fine) but also displaying aspects of prejudice (which is not fine), it was good to see an act showng it wasn’t all about the benjamins.

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -‘The Language of Violence.’

As has been well-documented, in 1992, The Wedding Present issued a new 7″ every month, the a-side being an original song and the b-side being a cover. This saw them make Top Of The Pops several times, have seven entries in that year’s Festive Fifty, rack up twelve top thirty hits…and then get dropped by their record company.

Wedding Present -‘Sticky.’

I wasn’t much into R&B in the nineties, much of it came under the heading of New Jack Swing, a genre that left me cold, mostly. But this track wasn’t like that, and like En Vogue, gave a glimpse of just how big the genre would be in the decade to come…

Shanice -‘I Love Your Smile.’

This wasn’t supposed to happen…or maybe it was. This is actually the track that first brought Bjork into the Top Forty in the UK, being a sizeable hit, even with the mad shoutyness going on, as ever. But by the end of the year the band hd called it a day, with Bjork going off to make a solo album…and actually put the avant garde on Top Of The Pops.

The Sugarcubes -‘Hit.’

Should also be featured here: Ride -‘Leave Them All Behind.’ Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Reverence.’ Primal Scream -‘Movin’ On Up.’ The Cure -‘Friday I’m In Love.’ The Orb -‘Blue Room.’ Faith No More -‘Midlife Crisis. En Vogue -‘My Lovin.’ Boo Radleys -‘Lazarus.’ (Actually, there were good tracks it just felt horrible…)