The Great Escape
Released: September 1995
Cat No.: FOODCD14
Info in this writeup refers to the UK CD release of the album
Blur's The Great Escape
is the last of three albums that make up a distinctive trilogy, the band's 'Life' albums (it is rumoured that The Great Escape
was going to be called 'Sex Life'). Different in songwriting style from the band's debut and later albums, all three contain songs about characters of Albarn
's creation, sometimes adopting a sneering tone that annoys some. If Modern Life Is Rubbish
was the precursor to the enormous success Blur finally enjoyed with Parklife
, then The Great Escape
was a winding down from their Britpop era, this time with a darker, more angst ridden tone. After this their music went in a slightly different direction, abandoning the characteristically Britpop concept album
for a rockier American influenced sound - Coxon
's rock over James
' quirky art school pop.
With The Great Escape
, Albarn was attempting perhaps to repeat the formula of the last album, but unlike Parklife
the characters are not chirpy cockney
s but bland and troubled yuppie
s who escape their lives with prozac
, alcohol, and sexual perversions. The best known song on the album must be Country House
, a catchy anthem which beat Oasis
to the number one spot amid great media hyped rivalry between the bands. Other highlight tracks include The Universal, which includes some tacky but nonetheless rather nice strings while Albarn tells of some kind of Huxleyesque drug of the future upon which in his imagined reality we are all dependant. Charmless Man, another highlight, is the story of a dull suit who corners the songwriter in a bar and bores him with boasts of influence and money, despite the fact it hasn't bought him any friends - a near identical character to those in Globe Alone, Topman and Mr Robinson's Quango. Dan Abnormal, meanwhile, is about a degenerate teenager who spends too much of his time playing computer games - another favourite theme of Blur's. The surprise this time, is that the eponymous delinquent is none other than Damon Albarn himself, as we discover at the end (or sooner if you try rearranging the letters of the song name). Also check out the track Ernold Same, for the novelty of hearing Ken Livingstone
perform the vocals.
For a long time this was my all-time favourite album by any artist, but if you aren't a moody and too-clever-by-half teenager I can see its tone becoming irritating, and it never quite gained the popularity of Parklife
, losing out to the Oasis classic Morning Glory
. Nonetheless, The Great Escape
is an essential for anyone boasting a respectable collection of 90s British indie
2. Country House
3. Best Days
4. Charmless Man
5. Fade Away
7. The Universal
8. Mr Robinson's Quango
9. He Thought of Cars
10. It Could Be You
11. Ernold Same
12. Globe Alone
13. Dan Abnormal
14. Entertain Me
15. Yuko and Hiro
Singles taken from the album
in order of release
- CDFOOD(S) 63. The one that everyone likes. CD1 featured the live version, plus live versions of Girls & Boys, Parklife and For Tomorrow. CD2 featured the regular version, as well as a song called One Born Every Minute and a new version of To The End. There was also a cassette version.
- CDFOOD(S) 69. Again on two CDs and cassette, the first cd included Entertain Me (The Live It! Remix) and two previously unheard tracks - Ultranol (a chirpy song about yet another fictitious drug-of-the-future) and No Monsters In Me. CD2 was all live versions - Mr Robinson's Quango, It Could Be You and Stereotypes as well as the title track.
- CDFOOD 73. The CD single is worth having for the very nice mellow B-side
s - The Man Who Left Himself, Tame, and Ludwig. Also check out the humorous sleeve.
- CDFOOD 77. The final single taken from the album, this included three so-so B-sides - The Horrors, A Song and St. Louis.
It Could Be You was also released as a single, but only in Japan
, where more singles are demanded. I have seen it several times available in the UK as an import.