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fromheadtoheart flag England - Full Moon 216 - 04/15/14

From head to heart
Blur's Parklife

Following our retroscope series of latter years, here we go again! Here's Speakers' corner's cousin; From head to heart. Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves'n'vaults of pop'n'rock. Blowing our ears and our head, punching our chest and shaking our heart. Making us go sentimental, but not slaphappy. This moonth the Lunar shuttle performs a double touchdown backwards to 1994 -- one in the US, and one in the UK. The Brit platter goes back to when the so called Britpop feud/battle was on-going (at least in the tabloid British music press), between London (well, at least the frontman's a Chelsea fan, even though the guitar-slinger supports the Rams, of Derby!) and Manchester (Man City, in fact, because the brains and the big'n'loud-mouth - the brothers in arms of the group are hardcore supporters). The North vs. the South. Or, was it simply a press hoax thing? The two bands had initially praised each others work, but they eventually ended up as parts in this pop dispute. A classic setting, or, better, a classic English setting.

coverpic

Blur
Parklife
Food Records/EMI

I don't quite understand the grandeur of this album. It includes some great pop, power pop and punk pop songs and it might be the quintessential English pop album of the 1990s. I sense a line of archetypical Englishness here, from "Holiday" by Cliff and The Shadows via Ray Davies of The Kinks, Paul McCartney now and again, a drop of Small Faces, too, and onwards with XTC, Madness et al. But hello, the best songs of Parklife like "Girls & Boys", "Tracy Jacks" and "London Loves" sound so similar to the second best songs of XTC's Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding that I'm almost embarassed. Here are more than a drop or two of the other aforementioned names above, too, well, let's forget about Sir Cliff. A healthy dose of singalong punk in the best Sex Pistols tradition in addition. And throw in some twee orchestrated easy listening for good measure, too.

On the other hand I guess Parklife and its predecessor Modern Life Is Rubbish were great inspiration for lots of indie bands in the following years. Also, it's tempting to claim that "End Of A Century" must have been an inspiration for Oasis whose debut album was still four months away by the time Parklife was released. Alright-alright, sorry, never said that...! Anyway, Parklife went to no. 1, but only in Britain. I guess it was the start of the heydays of Britpop of the 1990s.

Maybe it's the lyrics then. Let's give it a try, here the Madness-flavoured title track mostly spoken by none less than actor Phil Daniels:

Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as
(parklife)
And morning soup can be avoided if you take a route straight through what is known as
(parklife)
John's got brewers droop he gets intimidated by the dirty pigeons, they love a bit of it
(parklife)
Who's that gut lord marching... you should cut down on your porklife mate... get some exercise

All the people
So many people
They all go hand in hand
Hand in hand through their parklife

Know what I mean

I get up when I want except on Wednesdays when I get rudely awakened by the dustmen
(Parklife)
I put my trousers on, have a cup of tea and I think about leaving the house
(parklife)
I feed the pigeons, I some times feed the sparrows too, it gives me a sense of enormous well being
(parklife)
And then I'm happy for the rest of the day, safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it
(parklife)

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand in hand
Hand in hand through their parklife

Parklife (parklife)
Parklife (parklife)

It's got nothing to do with vorsprung durch technic you know
Parklife (parklife)
And it's not about you joggers who go round and round and round
Parklife (parklife)

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand in hand
Hand in hand through their parklife

Well, I'm still not convinced. I guess Blur is a quintessential British fenomenon - or maybe English or southern English. Being a foreigner, I don't understand why Modern Life Is Rubbish sold poorly whereas Parklife by 1995 sold to four times platinum in the UK within a year. Also, it's bloody (literally!) unfair that XTC never gained the same status in their pop heydays of the 1980s and early 90s. But there you go. It's an unjust world and maybe Blur happened to be at the height of their inspiration and creativity at the right time, twenty years ago almost today. Happy-happy birthday!

PS! Allegedly the song "Magic America" was inspired by an Italian porn channel. And the band originally planned to call the album Soft Porn with a picture of Buckingham Palace on the sleeve [check this and 19 other facts right here - editor's note]. So maybe they could be as naughty boys as the brothers from Madchester, after all? Well, not quite!

PS! This moonth's Head to Heart could've included som other albums as well, such as two 25-year-old records; Pixies' Doolittle and The Triffids' The Black Swan, or another 20-year-old platter; Gastr del Sol's Crookt, Crackt, or Fly. They're all spinning the Lunar K jukebox as we speak. [editor's note]

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