Undoubtedly one of the most overlooked contributors to the swell of the Britpop scene is Graham Coxon. That’s not to say he doesn’t rightly receive plaudits for his work as the lead guitarist in Blur but that he doesn’t get nearly enough.
Bursting on to the scene in the ’90s, Graham Coxon has been around the music business for quite some time now. He’s been giving the world a selection of guitar tunes worthy of apocalyptic hedonism ever since he, Damon Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree made their way on to the alternative rock scene and influence countless bands along the way with his signature guitar sound.
Blur would break out of their native Essex and on to the national scene as one of the leading lights of Britpop. They acted as the antidote to the brash and brawling Oasis. Blur were the thinking pub-goers favourite band with a back catalogue filled with dancefloor jumpers, mournful melodies, rousing anthems and everything in between. But what music does Coxon class as an essential record? The below list and playlist should answer that.
The list is filled with some of Britain’s brightest stars from The Beatles to The Kinks, to Pink Floyd and The Jam—it’s a who’s who of British talent. Coxon clearly found inspiration from these bands when crunching some of Blur’s notorious riffs. The guitarist marks The Jam’s Setting Sons as the first album he ever bought, telling NME: “I bought it with some birthday money. It has soldiers on the front and it’s got Union Jacks and a bulldog and it’s got ‘Little Boy Soldiers’ on it… it’s a pretty good record.” Based on Coxon’s non-plus reaction to most things, we’ll take that as a glowing endorsement of one of Jam’s unsung heroes.
In the same article, Coxon also refers to the solo work of the late great Syd Barrett, a former member of Pink Floyd, as an inspiration for his own solo work. He talks about Barrett’s mercurial solo record The Madcap Laughs saying, “It’s just full of those moments that make your hairs stand up, and that’s what I always wanted to make partly with my solo albums – but you don’t know whether you actually do that or not, because you’re ‘you’.”
There is one sticking point, however. Coxon doesn’t really see the point in these lists or in fact recommending albums to anyone—but if he had to recommend one it would be Love’s showstopping record Forever Changes saying: “I hate it when people say there’s an individual album that they really like, ’cause I always think they don’t get it like I do – I suppose everyone thinks that though. Probably Love, ‘Forever Changes’, a lot of people know about that anyway, though the young’uns might not.”
A similar album that we’d encourage everyone to listen to would be Coxon’s pick for the record he most covets, picking up Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden: “If I ever make an album as good as this I’ll be happy for the rest of my life, probably. Danny Thompson [double bass player who played on Coxon’s ‘The Spinning Top’ album] is on it, and it’s kind of obvious immediately, his bass playing is amazing, everything just sounds perfect.”
The list shows off that Coxon is every single bit the musical impresario we knew him to be. Picking from a range of artists, a range of genres, and a range of musical inclinations, Coxon acts as the crucible of musical genius. Melting down the metal of Britain’s best to create a solid gold band like Blur.
While Coxon may never reach the heights with his solo career that he enjoyed with his band Blur, he can be safe in the knowledge that he forever changed the face of British music. His powerful riffs, his nonchalant style, his ability to crunch a guitar sound better than any of his contemporaries means he will remain in the pantheon of rock and roll.
See the full list, below.
Blur’s Graham Coxon’s 10 favourite albums:
- The Jam – Setting Sons
- The Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
- Love – Forever Changes
- Talk Talk – Spirit Of Eden
- The Beatles – Revolver
- King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
- Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs
- The Kinks – Village Green Preservation Society
- Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn
- Depeche Mode – Speak and Spell