James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 7: The Great Escape

James Proclaims (4)

And so to the seventh letter of the alphabet. Which was ‘G’ the last time I checked.

And it’s probably safe to assume it still is.

G2020

G is for The Great Escape

Blur_thegreatescape

No-one enjoys a bit of pedantry more than me, but I think it’s reasonable to ignore the definite article in the album’s title and claim with conviction that this is a more than worthy candidate to represent the letter ‘G’.

1994’s ‘Parklife’ was the album that really catapulted Blur into the public consciousness, and arguably the album that confirmed the arrival of Britpop as a ‘thing’, but ‘The Great Escape’ was a solid follow-up and in itself a fairly era-defining album thanks, at least partially, to the faux-rivalry with Oasis that accompanied its release, as it came shortly after Blur’s ‘Country House’ went up against Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’ in the singles charts.

The obvious result of the ‘Battle of Britpop’ was that both Blur and Oasis sold a lot of records, which was great for the Britpop movement as a whole. We were all encouraged to pick a side though, and in that sense I would definitely have been on ‘Team Oasis’.

But I would hardly let a silly thing like that get in the way of me enjoying a great album.

And ‘The Great Escape’ was one of my favourite albums of that time.

Incidentally, although it could be argued that Oasis enjoyed the greater commercial success overall, Blur definitely won the ‘Battle of Britpop’, because it was their single that made it to number 1 in the charts.

And if neither song was particularly representative of the best work of either band, Blur’s ‘County House’ deserves to play us out today because of its undoubted place in British pop music history. Even if it is for a pretty stupid reason when all is said and done.

And actually, even if I was ‘Team Oasis’ I did prefer ‘Country House’ to ‘Roll with It’ if I’m honest…

 

 

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 3: Coming Up

James Proclaims (4)

Day 3 of the A-Z challenge and who would have imagined we’d be dealing the letter ‘C’?

So we’d better head off to 1996 and ‘C’ what we can find…

C2020

C is for Coming Up

suede b

Given that some people credit Suede for paving the way for many of the bands that were part of the ‘Britpop’ phenomenon of the nineties, it’s perhaps strange that I wasn’t really that into them initially.

Because I liked a lot of those other bands.

But somehow Suede’s first two albums completely passed me by, and I really only began to take heed of them when they released this, their third album.

Although, in fairness, it’s not a bad place to start if you’re discovering the band for the first time.

Coming off the back of the departure of Bernard Butler (arguably one of the greatest guitarists of his generation, and a man who had already achieved his own success a year earlier with McAlmont and Butler and one of the tracks of the nineties in ‘Yes’) Suede’s third album needed to be pretty good to settle the nerves of the fans who thought his exit was terminal for the band.

‘Coming Up’ delivered everything it needed to. Easily representing their biggest commercial success, some of Suede’s biggest hits come from this album, including ‘Beautiful Ones’ and ‘Saturday Night’.

But I’ll leave you today with ‘Trash’. A song that is not at all rubbish…

On Amplifie Également Le Malheur Et Le Bonheur, Nous Ne Sommes Jamais Ni Si Malheureux, Ni Si Heureux Qu’on Le Dit

Balzac

“He’s reading Balzac, knocking back Prozac, it’s a helping hand that makes you feel wonderfully bland”

The first I’d ever heard of Balzac was in the above song lyrics from the Britpop classic ‘Country House’ by Blur. I loved that song when it came out, but then I loved all things Britpop back in the mid-nineties. ‘Country House’ was the single that beat Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’ to the number one slot, back when people cared about the singles chart. It was the beginning of a faux rivalry between the two that would result in both bands going on to sell lots of records. As a fan of both groups at the time, I loved the whole affair, but it was clearly absolute nonsense. This stuff was in the actual news for goodness sake, and not just the tabloid press, it was the number one story on the BBC news.

I wonder what Balzac would have made of it all. Probably not much. He was French and unlikely to have been overly interested in Britpop. Particularly because it all took place 145 years after his death.

I later came across Balzac when I was studying for my degree in French Studies. There was a significant literary component to my course, so studying Balzac was inevitable. Unfortunately, as I was struggling to master French literacy at the time, reading literature in the language was a little beyond me. I couldn’t find an English translation of the Balzac novel we were supposed to read (Le Colonel Chabert) so I chose to study the other authors on the reading list instead – namely Stendhal and Flaubert, for whom the chosen texts were readily available in English. By the end of the course my French was good enough to have a go at the original texts, but by that stage I’d chosen to specialise in other areas – more of the aforementioned Stendhal (on the basis that I’d already read his stuff) and quite a lot of French theatre, (on the basis that plays are quicker and easier to read than novels).

So I never got around to reading any Balzac. I’m not sure if I missed out too much. Mrs Proclaims has read quite a bit, indeed that is predominantly what she spends most of her time doing these days. We met on our degree course. She was the one who came top of all the classes we were in, whereas I was the one who rolled into the lectures bleary-eyed and hungover most of the time.  She seems to not hate Balzac, but I’m not sure she loves his work, so much as she enjoys the act of studying. We’re very different to each other in that regard.

Maybe one day I’ll read some Balzac. Although, if I’m honest, the Prozac does sound more appealing.