Although a lot of people don't realize it, Blur is a group that's been around for over 10 years now. Although people would be more likely to know that fact in the UK, Blur didn't really even make much of a splash in the United States until their ubiquitous "Song 2" off their 1997 self-titled release (although they did grab a few ears back in 1994 with their disco-pop hit "Girls And Boys." The hardcore will know that previous to this release (which is mainly just a compilation of singles), Blur actually released a 20 CD (Yep, you heard me right, 20 CDs) singles box set that contained all their singles released to date with about 5 b-sides per disc for a whopping batch of well over 150 songs from the group.
Like I said, though, that release was for the hardcore, just as this The Best Of release is for the fans who aren't quite so zealous (or simply don't feel like scrounging up the almost $200 dollar purchase price for the other set). The group packs 17 older tracks onto one disc, as well as one brand-new song for a total running time of 77 minutes. If you're one of those people who have heard the group and liked some of their songs (and maybe even own an album or two), but you're not sure how much further you want to dive in, it's just about the best way to go about sampling some more music by the group. Just to satisfy the hardcore fans (whom some of which will probably buy the release for the one new song), they've even tagged a 45 minute bonus live disc recorded last year at Wembley Arena.
The music itself is what you may or may not have heard before, and it isn't in order of release. Things start out with "Beetlebum" and the aforementioned "Song 2" from their 1997 self-titled release before launching into one of the groups best-ever songs in "There's No Other Way." Recorded clear back in 1991, it's a rambling pop track that you'll be singing along with more than any other track on the release. From there, they jump to 1995 with "The Universal" before jumping clear up to 1999 with "Coffee And TV" from their recent 13.
For the next succession of tracks, they jump around between the 1994 release Parklife (with "Parklife," "End Of A Century," and "Girls And Boys") and 13 again (with "Tender" and "No Distance Left To Run"). The last third of the album jumps all over again, from "Country House" to "For Tomorrow" and back to one of their first releases with the shimmering "She's So High." Things close out with the new track "Music Is My Radar" and it's a fairly logical progression from the William Orbit produced 13. It's layered while less electronic and bursts out with some fuzzy, rumbling guitars at one point. Basically, the group is still kicking and possibly planning on 10 more years together (despite members Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon pursuing other projects besides Blur. If you're a hardcore fan, you'll probably want to wait for the actual single release of "Music Is My Radar" although the lure of the live show could hold some pull. For others, it's a great overview of the band (although their are songs I enjoy more by the group that weren't released as singles and therefore aren't on this release) in their first 10 years.