Parklife


Parklife
Parklife
Studio album by Blur
Released 25 April 1994
Recorded August 1993 – January 1994 at Maison Rouge in London
Genre Britpop
Length 52:39
Label Food, SBK
Producer Stephen Street
Blur chronology
Modern Life Is Rubbish
(1993)
Parklife
(1994)
The Great Escape
(1995)
Singles from Parklife
  1. "Girls & Boys"
    Released: 2 February 1994
  2. "To the End"
    Released: 30 May 1994
  3. "Parklife"
    Released: 22 August 1994
  4. "End of a Century"
    Released: 7 November 1994

Parklife is the third studio album by the English alternative rock band Blur, released in April 1994 on Food Records. After disappointing sales for their previous album Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife returned Blur to prominence in the UK, helped by its four hit singles: "Girls & Boys", "End of a Century", "Parklife" and "To the End". Certified quadruple platinum in the United Kingdom,[1] in the year following its release the album came to define the emerging Britpop scene. Britpop in turn would form the backbone of the broader Cool Britannia movement. Therefore Parklife attained a cultural significance above and beyond its considerable sales and critical acclaim, cementing its status as a landmark in British rock music.

Contents

Recording

After the completion of recording sessions for Blur's previous album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Damon Albarn, the band's vocalist, began to write prolifically. Blur demoed Albarn's new songs in groups of twos and threes.[2] Due to their precarious financial position at the time, Blur quickly went back into the studio with producer Stephen Street to record their third album.[3] Blur met at the Maison Rouge recording studio in August 1993 to record their next album.[2] The recording was a relatively fast process, apart from the song "This Is a Low".

While the members of Blur were pleased with the final result, Food Records owner David Balfe was not pleased with the record, telling the band's management "This is a mistake". Soon afterwards, Balfe sold Food to EMI.[4]

Music

Blur frontman Damon Albarn told NME in 1994, "For me, Parklife is like a loosely linked concept album involving all these different stories. It's the travels of the mystical lager-eater, seeing what's going on in the world and commenting on it." Albarn cited the Martin Amis novel London Fields as a major influence on the album.[5] The songs themselves span many genres, such as the synthpop-influenced hit single "Girls & Boys", the instrumental waltz interlude of "The Debt Collector", the punk rock-influenced "Bank Holiday", the spacey, Syd Barrett-esque "Far Out", and the fairly New Wave-influenced "Trouble in the Message Centre". Journalist John Harris commented that while many of the album's songs "reflected Albarn's claims to a bittersweet take on the UK's human patchwork", he stated that several songs, including "To the End" and "Badhead" "lay in a much more personal space".[6]

Original title and cover concept

The album was originally going to be entitled London, and the album-cover shot was going to be of a fruit-and-vegetable cart. Chuckled Albarn, "That was the last time that Dave Balfe was, sort of, privvy to any decision or creative process with us, and that was his final contribution: to call it London.[7]

Cover

The album cover for Parklife was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps issued in January 2010.[8][9]

Release

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
BBC (highly positive)[11]
NME (9/10)[12]
PopMatters (highly positive)[13]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[14]

Parklife remains one of the most acclaimed records of the 90s, released in April 1994, debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts. The album stayed on the chart for 90 weeks.[15] Johnny Dee, reviewing Parklife for NME, called it "a great pop record", adding "On paper it sounds like hell, in practice it's joyous."[16] Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars. Reviewer Paul Evans wrote, "With one of this year's best albums, [Blur] realize their cheeky ambition: to reassert all the style and wit, boy bonding and stardom aspiration that originally made British rock so dazzling."[17] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented: "By tying the past and the present together, Blur articulated the mid-'90s zeitgeist and produced an epoch-defining record."[18]

In 2006, British Hit Singles & Albums and NME organised a poll of which, 40,000 people worldwide voted for the 100 best albums ever and Parklife was placed at #34 on the list.[19]

Accolades

Parklife has been receiving accolades since its official release and is largely seen not only as one of the best albums of 1994 and its decade, but of all time. The album was nominated to the 1995 Mercury Prize and won Best British Album at the 1995 Brit Awards. Some of the most notable appearances are listed below, as taken from Acclaimed Music, which currently ranks Parklife the 164th most critically acclaimed album of all time and the 28th best release of the 90s.[20][21] The album was also listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Track listing

All music by Blur and all lyrics by Albarn, except "Far Out" written by James.

  1. "Girls & Boys" – 4:50
  2. "Tracy Jacks" – 4:20
  3. "End of a Century" – 2:46
  4. "Parklife" (starring Phil Daniels) – 3:05
  5. "Bank Holiday" – 1:42
  6. "Badhead" – 3:25
  7. "The Debt Collector" – 2:10
  8. "Far Out" – 1:41
  9. "To the End" – 4:05
  10. "London Loves" – 4:15
  11. "Trouble in the Message Centre" – 4:09
  12. "Clover Over Dover" – 3:22
  13. "Magic America" – 3:38
  14. "Jubilee" – 2:47
  15. "This Is a Low" – 5:07
  16. "Lot 105" – 1:17

Personnel

  • Damon Albarn – lead-backing vocals, keyboards, hammond organ , moog synthesizer, machine strings, harpsichord on "Clover Over Dover", melodica, vibraphone, recorder, programming
  • Graham Coxon – backing vocals, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, percussion
  • Alex James – vocals on "Far Out", bass guitar, noise
  • Dave Rowntree – drums, percussion, programming, noises

Additional musicians

String quartet

  • Chris Tombling
  • Audrey Riley
  • Leo Payne MBE
  • Chris Pitsillides

Duke strings

  • Louisa Fuller – violin
  • Rick Koster – violin
  • Mark Pharoah – violin
  • John Metcalfe – string arrangement, viola
  • Ivan McCready – cello

Kick horns

  • Richard Edwards – trombone
  • Roddy Lorimer – flugelhorn, trombone
  • Tim Sanders – tenor sax, soprano sax
  • Simon Clarke – baritone sax, alto sax, flute

References

  • Harris, John. Britpop! Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock, 2004. ISBN 0-306-81367-X

Notes

  1. ^ Platinum Awards Content. BPI.co.uk. Retrieved on 9 September 2008.
  2. ^ a b Cavanagh, David; Maconie, Stuart. "How did they do that? - Parklife". Select. May 1995
  3. ^ Harris, p. 97
  4. ^ Harris, p. 139
  5. ^ Moody, Paul. "We Can Be Eros Just For One Day". NME. 5 March 1994.
  6. ^ Harris, p. 140
  7. ^ Essential Albums of the 90s: Blur - Parklife BBC/6music. Aired on 10 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Classic Album Covers: Issue Date – 7 January 2010". Royal Mail. http://www.royalmail.com/portal/stamps/content1?catId=32300674&mediaId=112400790. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  9. ^ Michaels, Sean (8 January 2010). "Coldplay album gets stamp of approval from Royal Mail". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jan/08/coldplay-album-stamp-approval. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  10. ^ Allmusic Review
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ NME review
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  15. ^ Harris, p. 142
  16. ^ Dee, Johnny. "Blur - Parklife". NME. April 1994
  17. ^ Evans, Paul. Parklife review. Rolling Stone. 30 June 1994. Retrieved on 8 September 2008.
  18. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Parklife > Overview". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r202255. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  19. ^ "Oasis album voted greatest of all time". The Times. 1 June 2006
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ [4]

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