on 29 November 2003
This album is the point in Blur's rambling musical career where it all came together. The band may well disagree with this, but this is the most cohesive album they produced. Rather than remembering Blur for two and a half minutes of screaming (Song 2) or for their tussles with Oasis (Country house, Charmless man), I'd suggest you take a look at this album.
Its simply a very very perceptive interpretation of a British way of life . 'Girls and Boys' takes you on a club 18-30, 'End of a Century' returns you to suburbia. 'Parklife' makes a slob of you, 'London Loves' deposits you in the rush hour and 'Magic America' gives you the dreams of escaping to bright lights. Finally, in one of the most beautiful moments of the nineties 'This is a Low' leaves you soaring over the land you know and love before 'Lot 106' brings a stupid grin to your face.
Its an evocative album, musically great, and most importantly its the best thing Blur ever did. Don't get the greatest hits, buy this instead. And then buy the rest of the albums.
on 15 January 2000
Music critics have never had shorter memories than when they have dealt with Blur. When 'The Great Escape', the sequel to 'Parklife', was released, they rightly hailed it as a classic. Ask them now, however, and you won't find many who will even admit to ever liking it - the music press follows fashion just like the rest of us. But all this is a round-the-houses way of saying that only the most ardent Blur-haters will think the same of 'Parklife'. Not a note is out of place, not a song fails to captivate. From the initial shock of Girls and Boys to the monumental, magnificent ending of This Is A Low (not forgetting the playful coda of Lot 105, a trick they tried again with less success on '13'), this is arguably the album of the decade. With pop music in possibly its unhealthiest condition since it was invented, we can only look back in wonder at albums like 'Parklife' and hope that somehow, somewhere, rock and roll will return for that one last encore all over again.
Blur, meanwhile, are just as interesting now as they were then, perhaps even more so, but will they ever release a record of this stature again?
A quasi-concept album about Britain and its Americanisation, Parklife is the peak of Blur, coming as the second part of their Britpop trilogy, after the poorly received (commercially at least) Modern Life Is Rubbish and before the decent The Great Escape. It also came out in the same year as Oasis' debut album shook the world's foundations and the Blur vs. Oasis battle began. Funnily enough, unlike the Beatles vs. Beach Boys rivalry thirty years earlier, both bands produced their greatest work before even beginning their competition, Oasis with their debut and Blur with this masterpiece.
Countless elements of Britain and its people are explored across this album's 53 enthralling minutes; monarchism in 'Jubilee;' everyday proletarianism in the title track; fashion trends and subcultures, as well as millenial interest in 'End Of A Century'; bank holidays on...well, 'Bank Holiday'; taxation and debt on 'The Debt Collector.' No stone is left unturned.
And from this concept/theme you get some of Blur's finest songs. The title track is famous thanks to Phil Daniels, but really not one of the standouts here. The elegaic 'Badhead,' with its chiming guitar and tasteful brass, is lovely, while 'Tracy Jacks' addresses stereotypes (better than the other Blur song of that name) with the line 'I'd love to stay here and be normal but it's just so overrated.' ]
Throughout, Albarne's cockney - or mockney depending on who you ask - voice and Graham Coxon's always dazzling guitar work hold everything together beautifully, and despite Coxon's apparent dissatisfaction with it, this is truly an album to be proud of, the jewel in Blur's crown.
on 10 March 2008
After the commercial failure of Blur's Modern Life Is Rubbish, the Colchester foursome were quite literally on their 'last legs'. Their record company were close to cutting the band loose and the failure of the albums two big singles 'Into Tommorow' & 'Chemical World' had seriously dented Damon Albarn's confidence.
It was time for a re-invention of the Blur sound. Albarn and Coxon turned the band overnight into a Bowie/Kinks/Madness hybrid and hit gold. The resulting Parklife was a revelation and, alongside Oasis's What's The Story Morning Glory, literally invented Brit Pop. Lyrically and sonically this is still the finest long player Blur ever released and is without doubt one of THE records of the 90's.
'Girls & Boys' was a massive hit and cleverly mixed electronic beats with a knowing Bowiesque delivery, 'Parklife' was The Kinks on speed with a liitle help from Phil Daniels and 'To The End' a gorgeous understated ballad. Even the relatively minor hit 'End Of The Century' still sounds great with it's near poetic lyrics and winning 'Mockney' vocal.
Parklife scored big though because of it's consistency and, with songs as strong as 'Tracey Jacks', 'London Loves','This Is A Low' and the lovely 'Badhead', the album tracks were in every sense the equal of the singles. They even pulled a great punk song out of the bag with the manic thrash of 'Bank Holiday'.
With the band currently on hiatus there has never been a better time to revisted Parklife and to remember exactly what Albarn did before he became a rennasaince man, part of a cartoon band and a highbrow musical maverick. Let's hope he gets back to his day job soon.
Parklife hasn't dated in the slightest. If you don't already own it, shame on you ! Great iconic cover artwork too !
There is a reason why the recently reformed Blur played no less that 7 Parklife tracks in their set .....
on 11 September 2000
How does it get any better than this? From the bouncy opener, through shouty pop and rock (Parklife, Bank Holiday) to classic love songs (To The End) and finishing with their most beautiful track that can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck (This Is A Low), this album is sheer quality. If you don't already own it, consider yourself mocked. This one could change your life.
on 4 July 2001
From the pogo-bop pop of 'Girls & Boys', to the rich and beautiful 'This is a Low', via punk, rock, indie, and music hall, here are 16 tracks with genuine variety, originality, freshness and quality. There isn't a moment that bores, and every note is brilliantly crafted, and expertly delivered. Without doubt THE album of the decade. My personal album of all time.
on 18 January 2006
This is Blur's finest work and is Britpop at it's best in the days of Blur and Oasis. From the dancing raving Girls And Boys, Magical Magic America, to the classis Parklife this album will fullfill your music taste in many ways and leaving loving Blur once again.
London Loves, Trouble In The Message Centre, Clover Over Dover are all masterpieces which will make you just get up and dance around.
My favourite Blur Album this will be worth your money and will take you back to the mad lads that are Blur...
on 28 March 2001
until I listened to it the other day for the first time in years. I was startled by how many different musical styles and influences there are here - it's a very experimental album, and one that works brilliantly. It's the best Blur have done so far, and is one of the few albums that have stood the test of time - it really is as good as the critics said at the time - and it isn't often that albums said on the day of their release to be destined for classic status actually achieve it, but this is a CLASSIC.
on 9 December 2000
The critical backlash to this LP is somewhat unjustified but understandable in the pox-ridden fall out of the godforsaken media creation that was Britpop. Britpop was yet to really kick off when Parklife arrived in 1994, and I was bowled over by it. Mr Albarn himself critically slated the LP a while back...time for a reappraisal then, methinks.
Well, I still think it's a beauty. The title track is admittedly now somewhat irritating, while Clover Over Dover and Magic America are overly twee, but any LP that features End Of A Century, Badhead, To The End and This Is A Low can't be all bad.
Very much of its time, for sure, but despite what the critics say, this still stands up as a very fine LP, and will probably prove to be one of Britpop's most enduring legacies.
It's hard for me to choose my favourite Blur album, I regard these good-looking, immensely talented men as one of the most (if not 'the' most) defining Britpop bands, who later branched out to make some very experimental and impressive records. However, I think that if you only wish to own one of their studio albums in your collection, 'Parklife' is possibly the one to have.
The two tracks that many people will recongnise straightaway are the singles 'Girls & Boys', which is an infectiously fun dance track, and 'Park Life', with actor Phil Daniels providing the vocals, which perfectly reflects in the lyrics the lives of working class Britains. As great as these songs are, the real highlight for me is 'End of the Century', one my all-time favourite Blur songs, second only to 'For Tomorrow', which has a great chorus and was also released as a single. Other honouree mentions must go to 'Tracy Jacks' and 'This Is A Low', both of which would have also made good single choices. The latter is a touching acoustic song, a fan favourite, and the best way to almost close out the album. 'Clover Over Dover' also deserves more recognition, it's a beautiful song with amazing guitar work from Graham, and one of those rare examples of a pretty song, which is yet so lyrically dark.
'Parklife' was Blur's third studio album, and I don't know if I would call it my own personal favourite because I do tend to listen to 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' more, but it was very successful, staying in the British album charts for over 90 weeks and remains one of the most acclaimed pop albums of the 1990s by any band. The record has aged very well and remains a classic, I think that it defines the whole Britpop era in a nutshell, and therefore deserves it's place in such a music collection.