Artist Spotlight: Blur
Blur (Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree) have become England's pride and joy, and in 2012 they're not only closing out the London Olympics (allegedly their last performance, but you can never believe anything Albarn says), they're also celebrating their 21st anniversary (give or take a few years apart) by remastering their entire catalog and offering loads of B-sides, live tracks, rare cuts and demos.
Suffice it to say, fans are ecstatic, but this was likely not the path anyone predicted after the release of their 1991 debut album, Leisure, which singer Albarn has since denounced as "awful" (it's not -- there are some great tunes on there). But soon they would reign over the U.K. music scene, basically inventing "Britpop" with 1993's Modern Life Is Rubbish and the following year's Parklife, by shrewdly dissecting life in the '90s through sounds evoking British pop's most royal.
The band wouldn't truly break out across the pond until their fifth album, Blur, whose "Song 2" helped make it their only album to reach Gold in the U.S. But Blur are not ones to appease any new fanbase -- especially one consisting of Americans -- and they'd go on to release two of their most experimental albums, 13 and Think Tank, both of which tinker with various sounds and styles and reveal Albarn's further fascination with electronic, hip-hop, African and dub music, something he would fine-tune with other projects like Gorillaz. Think Tank eventually broke up the band -- guitarist Graham Coxon is but a blip on that album -- but they would reunite in 2009, teasing fans with a few one-off singles but no plans for any future albums.
So if the Olympic performance proves to be their swan song, at least Blur have given us one hell of a catalog. Below, follow the band's evolution with each of their seven main releases, all remastered and full of bonus goodies.