The Great Escape (Special Edition)
With The Great Escape, Blur created their second conceptual coup. Where Parklife focused on working class lads, Escape centers on the suburban upper-middle class of singer Damon Albarn's youth. The folks are restless and messing with drugs and extramarital sex to assuage their unfulfilled dreams. The millionaire with the "Country House" can't find his peace, while "Charmless Man" sketches out a dull company man with a musical energy that's at odds with his bland existence. "Stereotypes" tells you what Albarn thinks of his observations, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. As a group, Blur play with an eclectic chemistry that makes optimum use of guitarist Graham Coxon. Comparisons to XTC and Teardrop Explodes join the usual shout-outs to the Kinks and Jam, but Blur simply puree these influences until they're a soup all their own. "The Universal" sports a brass section for an outsized ballad. "Yuko and Hiro" warps with electronics. The Special Edition includes live versions of classic Blur tracks, "Country House," "Girls and Boys" and "For Tomorrow," along with collaboration with Francoise Hardy on "To The End (La Comedie)."