In the 1990s and beyond, Blur were one of the biggest bands around. They delivered a bolshy and brattish form of Britpop which not only placated the intellectual musos of the world but the mainstream masses. Here, we note the band’s undeniable wide-ranging influences as Damon Albarn, Alex James, Dave Rowntree and Graham Coxon share their favourite albums.
The list is an incredibly revealing set of albums. It shows the band’s varying influences and inspiration and equally offers a candid view of the band as individuals, as well as the collective.
For example, while Damon Albarn enjoys music from across the musical globe, including Bobby Womack and William Onyeabor, he also tips his hat to the legendary David Bowie. Graham Coxon finds more room for British talents like The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society and Pink Floyd—but the less said about Alex James’ choice of the dour pop of Ellie Goulding the better.
The list, which was originally compiled as part of the band’s promotion for their 2015 album The Magic Whip, comes complete with a few words from the band on each album. So that you might write the next ‘Parklife’, ‘Country House’ or ‘The Universal’ we’ve created a playlist of the band’s favourite LPs below so you can get inspired.
First up, we’re going with the selections of Damon Albarn himself. See the full list, below.
Picking out his three favoured records, the Blur and Gorillaz man pays homage to David Bowie’s brilliant album Low while also exploring the work of Bobby Womack and William Onyeabor.
See his selections, below.
The Poet – Bobby Womack
“I could have chosen three or four of Bobby’s. Records that kill me every time. Along with Tony Allen, he’s one of the biggest inspirations of my musical life.”
World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who is William Onyeabor? – William Onyeabor
“The more I learn about this man, the more of an enigma he becomes, but I can’t think of a more joyous thing than ‘Fantastic Man’.”
Low – David Bowie
“The sound of David and Brian absorbing punk then taking it to Berlin to produce a futuristic record, right on the frontline of the Cold War.”
Typically left-field, Blur bass player and cheesemaker extraordinaire has really mixed things up with the three records that he holds dear to his heart. Having started out with William Orbit, things tend to descend into slow madness with the inclusion of Chic and Ellie Goulding.
Is he taking the piss? Nobody can ever really be sure with Alex James these days.
Strange Cargo – William Orbit
“The first track, ‘Water from a Vine Leaf’ reminds me of travelling to New York to find Claire a few weeks after we’d first met. I listened to it all the way. Always a great way to start a DJ set.”
C’est Chic – Chic
“The record that made me want to play the bass. And dance. And go to New York.”
Halcyon Days – Ellie Goulding
“Love her songs. She’s the real deal in a world of bogus pop pretenders.”
After the dizzyness of the above selections, it’s straight back to business from Dave Rowntree.
The band’s drummer, who also enjoys success in the world of politics and animated film, isn’t taking his favoured album list lightly. Kicking things off with Moderat, Rowntree also finds room for Nick Drake and, somewhat surprisingly, Radiohead.
Moderat – Moderat
“The band’s first album. Understated and in parts beautiful – ‘Rusty Nails’ in particular.”
Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake
“The last great album of the ’60s. So good, it’s a cliche to say so.”
OK Computer – Radiohead
“Hard to pick which Radiohead album is the best, as they’re all like old friends.”
Graham Coxon, like the rest of us, will be scratching his head at the idea of his bass player sitting at home with a fine cheeseboard and solemnly enjoying the soothing sounds of Ellie Goulding.
While Rowntree got us back on track after James threatened to derail the whole thing, Coxon has propelled us over the finish line with three stonking records that would sit pride of place on any record collector’s shelf.
Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks
“This band are so good I can’t pick just one.”
Piper at the Gates of Dawn – Pink Floyd
“Nursery rhyme darkness and cosmic journeying in an accent from just up the road!”
Speak and Spell – Depeche Mode
“Some of the best bubble gum pop ever created and not a guitar in sight! Genius.”