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Blur

Fri., Feb. 2, 1996

Liberty Lunch

Sunday, February 4 I pity the fool who craves rockstardom in America. Who wants to be championed by a populace that has so little taste or sense of humor? And to be heralded by the cool crowd -- even worse: The alternative brats are a moody, cannibalistic lot, eating their own, then puking them up when they fall into the grabby hands of those meddling masses.

Blur's Damon Albarn is a great many things -- a complex, ironic songsmith, paramour of Elastica's Justine, lead singer for, depending on the weather that day, the biggest band in England -- but he's no fool. While the other biggest band in England, Oasis, monopolizes American radio with "Wonderwall," Blur is dropping by the states for a two-week tour in support of their hugely successful (in England) fourth album, The Great Escape. The tour's brevity was borne of pragmatism, not disdain for America, and Albarn is a bit miffed at the suggestion that Oasis' extensive touring laid more groundwork for their recent success.

"It sort of pisses me off when people say they did a lot of groundwork," intones the Londoner about those Northern working-class lads. "I've been coming here for six years -- isn't that a lot of groundwork?"

Although Oasis have enjoyed more American success than Blur, the chances of the rivalry re-igniting over here is slim, as it's an entirely British phenomenon.

"I tell you what it was," Albarn explains. "'Parklife [Blur's '94 release] was the first album from an alternative band to sell a million records [in England]. It had a similar effect in Britain as Nirvana had in America. Oasis was the next band to get towards that amount. This year ['95], they sold more than us, but last year they were always our sort of younger brothers. We won all the Brits [Awards], and they were `Best New Band.' Both bands were in such a league of their own compared to everyone else."

And in the great British tradition of football rivalries, class wars and tabloid press blood-lust, the underdogs, Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis, started the brawl. Not that anyone over here really cares. Hell, we didn't even really get a lot of England's most influential bands -- the Kinks, for instance. Most of their songs were just too... you know, too....

"British," Albarn concludes flatly. "I've had conversations with Ray Davies, and we've sat in balmy parks in South London and talked about the fact that no one understands us in America."

Be glad we don't, dear boy. You're far better off letting the rest of the world pay your bills. Just watch what we do to those Gallagher boys in a year or two: "I don't believe that anybody will feel the way they do about them now."

-- Mindy Labernz

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