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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2001
This was the album that very nearly broke the back of Blur in their native Britain. Released at the same time as Oasis' ''(What's The Story) Morning Glory)'', which sold considerably more copies, Blur became victims of the age old British adage of putting someone on a pedastal so you can knock them down. Suddenly, lead singer Damon Albarn couldn't walk down the street without someone yelling the latest Oasis tune in his ear. It was the mother of all backlashes. Which is strange, because ''The Great Escape'' is a superb album. Fizzling with musical invention, (the ethereal, nightmarish guitars on ''He Thought Of Cars'') and lyrical gems, (''They're on the leather sofa, they're on the patio./And when the fun is over, watch themselves on video'' from ''Stereotypes''), it was a noted progression from ''Parklife''. Guitarist Graham Coxon established himself as the finest of his generation, bending his sounds around Albarns songs in much the same way as a painter colours in the white gaps of a rough sketch (especially on the melancholic ''Best Days''). The grandiose ''The Universal'' is a genuine throat lumper, swelling with Bacharian strings. And ''Entertain Me'' revisits the stomping disco beat of ''Girls And Boys'', matching a cracking tune with yearning lyrics. It's no surprise to learn that The Smiths were idols of Albarn and co.There's even the token punk song, (''Globe Alone''), that Blur always throw on to their records. It's a measure of Blurs self belief that the ensuing backlash following ''The Great Escape''s release didn't break them. And it's a sign of genuis that they went on to make even better records. Because this is an excellent album.
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on 7 September 2000
Although I can understand why so many people slate this album, I can't agree with them. Sure, it may be somewhat overproduced, but LISTEN to the album instead of going along with the majority and you'll discover a much-maligned classic. Of course there are poor tracks (TOPMAN and and Dan Abnormal for me), but there are also some of the bands best ever tracks (The Universal, Stereotypes, Best Days and the stunning He Thought of Cars).
This album was recorded at the peak of Britpop, just as Parklife when ballastic, and when released, got much more favourable releases than Oasis' What's the Story? It was only when the backlash kicked in towards Christmas '95 that everyone started slating the album. Perhaps the melancholy feel and depressing lyrics (even the Country House lyrics are depressing when you listen to them!) are hard for many to listen to, whilst Oasis' required no real effort on the listener's part.
One day this album will be given the credit it deserves.
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on 11 November 2000
The Great Escape is by far the better of blur's other albums,although "blur" and "13" are approached differently with no more tracks about characters.Unlike the Great Escape which is full of upbeat tunes and great lyrics of which you can understand.To me by far their best album to date.
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on 21 March 2000
Blur have always been slated for there music but this album has some amazing tunes on it and they really showed that Blur could change. I understand that people thought they were rubbish as they had so much to live up to with three albums behind them but they needed to make this one to really show that though they were international stars sometimes things don't go as planned. The great thing about the album is how the music is so excellent to chill too people get into the vibe of it. It is worth listening too as it has passion and insight into their lives, alot better than the cheesey music era that we have entered today. Brilliant CD to chill too.
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on 11 February 2000
"Parklife" had been a massive success. "The Great Escape" saw the Britpop backlash beginning in earnest. Yet the astonishing thing about "The Great Escape" is that the overall standard of the songs was better than either "Parklife" or "Modern life...". Musically speaking, "Topman", "Her Thought of Cars" and even the much-abused "Country House" are marvellous. The problem is the lyrics...
By this album, Damon Albarn was well and truly p****d off. Blur had become a superb pop band, but perversely he felt a fraud. His inner pretentious snob kept eating at him, telling him that he had become the commercial entertainer he hated. The lyrics of "Great Escape" are filled with some of the most scabrous misanthropy ever committed to record. The ordinary people are either repressed, middle-class depressives ("Ernold Same", "Fade Away"), or vile vulgarians ("TOPMAN", "Globe Alone"). Yet if you're a rock star you can't escape the meaningless of the world ("Country House"). The obvious answer would be to burn away the cobwebs with rock'n'roll songs that could both provide bodacious grooves while simultaneously savaging our sick society. Unfortunately, Damon didn't feel up to that. After this album Blur collapsed into insular pretension and that is the true tragedy.
Listen to it, but keep your antacids handy...
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on 29 November 2010
I always liked Blur and had been meaning to purchase all 7 albums and see for myself the wonderful life of Blur. First off as I read the reviews of this album it seems like no one has an opinion and everyone follows whatever the negative reviews say to fit and say that it is Blur at there worst. Are you joking honestly this album is slated because of what a few people think it is not as good as Parklife. Who cares do we really need a Parklife no,Blur needed to move on and thank god they did.There are some pure excellent songs on this album but no one seems to notice and it's a shame. In some ways I really like this album and prefer this to other releases of there's but the negativity hype surrounding this release will sadly never go away I think if you are reading this and you hate the album because your a sheep if i could reach out of my computer screen and slap you with this very album on CD i will be more than happy to.

Charmless Man and Country House are classics and it is easy to see that because these do stick out compared to the other tracks but they have all the good bit of magic to them. I can't stress enough that if you are reading the reviews that talk garbage get this album and see for yourselves.

For the price you are paying i must say just click to purchase when you just about to buy a few blur albums and see for yourself. It is defiantly worth having and thinking about it. Honestly this album makes you think in so many ways..
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on 27 May 2005
In hindsight, the first Blur album, Leisure, seems like the work of a completely different band, with the style of the whole thing steeped in the baggy sound of bands like The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets. It wasn't until the second album Modern Life is Rubbish that the iconic Blur sound began to immerge, with the band taking the influence of 60's acts like The Kinks and The Beatles and applying it to the indie-ethos of 80's bands like The Smiths, Felt and The Wedding Present. Things became a little more obvious on the third album Parklife, by which time the term Britpop had been coined in an attempt to pigeonhole other bands with a similar approach to music.
I personally find Parklife a bit grating these days (...it's hard to listen to most Blur albums because of how irremovable they are to my secondary school memories), with Damon's mock cockney antics coming across as more obnoxious than they probably did in 1995. The Great Escape however still stands up extremely well, with the album fusing the more robust pop elements of Parklife with the wit, imagination and underlining social-edge so apparent on Modern Life. Because of this, the album can be enjoyed as both a conceptual piece (with Blur looking at certain themes synonymous with the rat race and the British way of life), or as a collection of fine pop songs (the singles, particularly The Universal, still sound great). As with Parklife, some could argue that the whole thing is a little too over-the-top (especially if we compare it to recent albums by bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines), with certain tracks like Top Man, Ernold Same, Mr. Robinson's Quango and the single, Country House all slipping into the kind of musical-style bombast mainly reserved for mid-period Divine Comedy albums like Casanova and A Short Album About Love. Of course, when picking off random tracks, the whole thing is bound to seem brash and inconsistent, with this album really tying in with a record like The Village Green Preservation Society by the above-mentioned Kinks (it's worth wondering how tracks like Phenomenal Cat, All of My Friends Were There and People Take Pictures of Each Other would have fared as contemporary pop singles?) by being an album that relies on a certain cohesive continuity that flows from song to song.
The giddy fusion of various musical styles, from 70's punk, to 80's indie, to music-hall, to Europop, to lounge-muzak, to cinematic excess, right the way through to novelty bombast and radio spoofary eventually gives way to darker subjects expressed through Damon's mordant, multi-layered lyrics (which again, draw on a myriad of sources and inspirations including everything, from Monty Python, seaside post-cards, British films, Reggie Perrin, English lit, newspaper headlines, brand names, Mike Leigh, Alan Bennett and of course, everyone from the Beatles, to the Smiths, to "place classic British band name here"). The Universal is without a doubt the most achingly melancholic thing on here (...and is perhaps my favourite song on the album), with Damon taking on the bored pre-millennium tensions of a seemingly alien-being looking down on the bland and silly eccentricities of the British public with contempt. The overall band performance here is wonderful and is perfectly complemented by those wilting string-arrangements, which takes the song away from the dull rock-by-numbers of something like Globe Alone and more towards a heartbreaking waltz that seems to be crying out for a more innocent time ("well it really, really, really could happen!!").
There are other highlights too, particularly Fade Away, He Thought of Cars and Stereotypes, each of which stands as a great work of 90's indie-pop to rank alongside the work of similar contemporaries like Neil Hannon, Luke Haines, and records like His N' Hers by Pulp and Morrissey's Vauxhall and I. Speaking of which, the great single Charmless Man is apparently a thinly veiled attack against the former Smiths front man (Charmless Man = This Charming Man... geddit?), which is hardly surprising given that The Great Escape was produced by wronged-Morrissey collaborator Stephen Street (he produced Strangeways, Here We Come and collaborated on Viva Hate). Still, it's a great pop song, regardless of it's supposed hidden-content, and is a track that works well within the context of the record and with the themes of consumerist abandon and technocratic escape (...it's also worth remembering for that great video featuring the actor, Jean Marc Barr).
The album has it's faults, obviously... I mean, for a start it's too long (as were many albums of this era) whilst the brash production might be a little off putting in these earnest, guitar-driven times, however, to dismiss the entire album for such shortcomings would be a great disservice to the immensity of songs like Country House, Charmless Man, Best Days, The Universal and the closing track, Yuko and Hiro, which really show the band sounding darker and more intelligent than many of their detractors would give them credit for. It's not the greatest album in the world (or indeed, my favourite Blur album), but The Great Escape still works surprisingly well, and hasn't dated quite as badly as Parklife or some of the other records of this era, managing to retain a certain wit and charm, whilst also taking the listener behind the calm exterior of commuter life, to find the dark and depressed sycophantic beasts within.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2014
Blur's fourth studio album 'The Great Escape' spawned a string of hit singles, and several solid album only cuts. Competing with Oasis in a chart war known as 'The Battle of Britpop' in 1995, their single 'Country House' was released the same day as Oasis' 'Roll with It', with Blur winning, reaching the top spot. However, Oasis' album '(What's the Story) Morning Glory' sold considerably more than Blur's. 'The Great Escape' is mostly a very tongue-in-cheek and all around funny observation of upper middle-class life.

Other singles that were issued from this CD have all become Britpop classics, including the fun, anthem-like 'Stereotypes', evergreen sing-along 'Charmless Man', and the science fiction themed 'The Universal', which remains one of the band's best songs, constantly still used in television adverts to this day. With so many excellent hits, and fan favourites like 'Best Days' and 'He Thought Of Cars', this is a first class album, and in my eyes, outshines Parklife, whilst not quit managing to top the incredible Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Please do yourself a favour, and check out the deluxe edition: The Great Escape, where you'll get the album, plus a bonus disc of all the B sides from every single that was released off the album, including some awesome live performances of 'Country House', 'Girls and Boys', 'Parklife', and 'For Tomorrow', recorded at Mile End. Both CDs are housed in a box with a lid, and you'll also be getting a booklet featuring brand new interviews with each band member, previously unseen photographs, and four artwork postcards. It's worth the extra money, trust me.
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on 6 March 2005
This is my favourite album of all time. It just has some many quality songs! The clever lyrcis stood out for me personally. The best tracks are Country House and Best Days. Although, I love every song on this album. Buy it now!
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on 5 July 2009
Whereas the release of Parklife was still a bit overshadowed by the death of a certain Kurt Cobain, the band's prominence during the next year ensured Blur would get all the attention with the release of its 1995 album The Great Escape. Oh yeah, how could I forget: there was the whole overblown Blur-Oasis feud that was so ridiculous it must have been a set-up (and did they really have that much in common?). Well, the one good thing it led to was that the album sales got a boost and that's always a good thing. People like Robbie Williams make a living because of events like that. Anyway this review is about the long-awaited sequel to Parklife, but come to think of it, the whole superficial nonsense surrounding the new album was fitting. On many levels, The Great Escape was treated as a decent sequel, but a few listens made sure you'd alter that view. If anything, this album is the less commercial, less lightweight and less optimistic (well, the previous one does sound optimistic compared to this one) counterpart of Parklife. Even more so: from the album art, to the lyrics, to the purposely more detached music, it's a release that's obsessed with appearances.

While those who weren't paying attention thought of it as another jolly album, most people did smell the rotten core beneath the shiny surface (cf. the last page of the booklet). Well, "rotten" may be an exaggeration, but the lives that are depicted during these songs are utterly devoid of content and genuine emotions. "Stereotypes" evokes the introduction to David Lynch's Blue Velvet, a world where everything seems perfect, too perfect, uncomfortably perfect. And the protagonists? Well, they have to get their kicks out of naughty games. Quite similar to the mechanic jerk-pop of "Stereotypes" are "Ernold Same" (musically, one of the least interesting songs), a portrait of catatonia, and the Specials-influenced "Fade Away," whose protagonists happened to stumble into their lives, hollow inside. Of course, Albarn's antipathy towards America made sure he created some decidedly English (British?) stories, such as "Country House" and "Charmless Man." Both of these songs are probably the reason why many people thought of The Great Escape as a sequel. Nearly as catchy as the bouncy stuff on Parklife, they combine the more traditional song-writing skills of Ray Davies (a merger of Face to Face's infectiousness and Arthur's seriousness) with the sounds and ideas of the nineties, with especially Coxon coming off as particularly inventive (I should dedicate an extra paragraph to his underrated skills, but I'll pass on the honour to the specialists). The charmless man knows his Claret from his Beaujolais and pretends he's notorious gangster Ronnie Kray, but ultimately, "no one's listening," while the professional cynic in "Country House" (allegedly based on some guy they'd worked with) is doomed to be lonely. Interesting side-note here: there's also a reference to Oasis' second album, with "Now he's got morning glory, life's a different story" (or is it the other way around, can somebody tell me?).

Anyway, during these songs, the pitiable characters are wallowing in their empty existence, or dreaming of escaping their dreary lives, like in "It Could Be You" (about the lottery - "Don't worry if it's not your lucky number, because tomorrow there is another"), "He Thought of Cars" (actually a quite darker and more interesting song than the title suggests) and "The Universal" ("Tomorrow is your lucky day") that aims for the heights of "This Is a Low," and nearly makes it. Interestingly (to me, that is), two of my favorite songs on this album are ones that hardly anyone ever mentions. The first is the silly "Top Man" that has "Julian Cope" all over it in capital letters (that's probably why then - isn't Cope the greatest of all British eccentrics?), the second is the danceable "Entertain Me" that's a fitting addition to this album, with it's near-robotic rhythms, phoned-in vocals (and Albarn does sound a lot like Mark E. Smith here!), and typical Blur-chorus. I've also grown quite fond of the weird ballad "Yuko and Hiro," while "Globe Alone" once again proves the band is quite good at making Casio-punk. Despite some weaker songs ("Ernold Same," the tough but sub-standard "Mr. Robinson's Quango" and "Dan Abnormal" (it's an anagram - remember Dan Abnormal also appeared on Elastica's debut?)), The Great Escape doesn't deserve the bad reputation (well, that's my impression) it has today. OK, it was an overproduced album, but I consider that a part of the package. At this point, they had painted themselves into a corner (and luckily their next direction would be something entirely different), but inside this overlong and quite uneven release, there lurks another excellent 40-minute album.
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