This is an interesting turning point in the artistic career of the band Blur, led by singer/songwriter Damon Albarn. This was originally a limited edition release back in the day for the Japan market only, based on the self-titled Blur album released the previous year before. It comes across as their album that closely resembles Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma in terms of its structure. The first half has remixes of songs from the previous Blur release, with the second half having live performances from the Peel Arena. Let’s take a listen to this release, and see it is has lasted well to this day or not.
Movin’ On – William Orbit Remix begins with remixed sounds from the original, with some digital beeps. Before long, some muffled beats enter and we get underway. This is a very Electronic and processed version of the original tune, sounding very different. Damon Albarn’s singing and melodies here are clearer, but this is not the greatest sonic experience out there. Still, it is okay for what it is, just rather disappointing and shrill listening. Not at all great. It is also fairly lengthy a remix, sitting at eight minutes long. Anyway, although the effort is appreciated, it is not a really awesome remix and the song itself was not one of the better pieces from the Blur album. The Electronic drum beats in the middle are quite good, but aside from that, this is junk for the most part. Sadly, this is disappointing and falls flat here, which is not good. The second half has stagnated guitar riffs and a strange topsy-turvy mixture of melodies from the song and Electronics. There follows a major change with some rather EDM like textures and sonic based sounds from the song. A rather disappointing start to this album, which it needn’t be. The outro has a noise setting that sounds a lot like what The Chemical Brothers would do, before finishing up. Not a good start to the album.
Death Of A Party – Well Blurred Remix begins with some loose morse code style beeps before the beats enter from the start of the original song. This continues until Damon Albarn’s singing enters, and some of the melodies from the song enter. This is a definite improvement on the track before it and sounds rather Breakbeat based and Psychedelic in an Electronic way. Quite a surprisingly good effort to listen to, and is very surreal. The drumbeat driving this piece sounds like a classic Amen Breakbeat in the way it is delivered. The beats stop for the main melodies and other interesting Electronic touches in the middle of the track, followed by some rather dark Acid styled sounds. This continues for some time, with touches of the melodies from the song, which are very intelligent overall. The remix sounds very well thought out and super trippy, this is Blur’s music for those who love Electronic music and EDM in general. Adrian Sherwood mixed this one, and it is eclectic, exciting and out there. Towards the end are many Electronic rushes of melody and noises before it wraps up in an exciting way. Good effort.
On Your Own – Crouch End Broadway Mix is famously used in the scene of The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in the section where he begins losing his mind and hallucinating. It begins with eerie high frequency Electronic melodies, followed by Damon Albarn’s memorable harmonies. Before long, a fantastic drum beat and guitars enter which are undeniably catchy. It is super excellent and an imaginative remix that does really well. The sections that follow use processed guitars, 4/4 beats and a great mix with Damon Albarn’s vocals. Some additional sounds and textures quickly follow, with na-na-nas to follow. This is a short and pleasant remix that sounds very Psychedelic and somewhat true to the original piece. The mixing here is really superb and this is a great piece of music. Great and danceable piece of music, the beats toward the end are interesting, too.
Beetlebum – Moby’s Mix begins with basic drumbeats and Damon Albarn’s vocals, which are simple and enjoyable. Some dark atmospheric melodies from the song that are remixed enter. This is fairly underwhelming, to be honest. Typically of Moby’s influence, this is not a really great piece of music overall and although it has to be appreciated for effort, it just falls flat. It gets moving very slowly and this track needs a serious rethink. It sounds more like a piece for a depressing movie than anything and is not a light and enjoyable listen like the previous tracks. Also, this is a fairly repetitive listen. The breakdown in the middle is quite odd, and this does not sound enjoyable or easy to hear. Sure, there are some interesting sounds throughout, but this sounds sludgy and depressing. This album is obviously very hit-and-miss, sadly. In addition, this is very difficult to listen through for a nearly seven-minute-long song. The dark and depressing remix could have been done a lot better, to be frank. Very disappointing. It does have Damon Albarn singing the line, “Nothing is wrong, because she turns me on,” at the end on repeat for about a minute, which is rather odd.
Essex Dogs – Thurston Moore’s Mix is one of the longest remixes on this album, at over nine minutes long. It has the sound at the start of the song without watery sounds and other textures. It definitely sounds a bit strange but is nonetheless enjoyable if you have a great deal of patience about things. Shortly into it, it launches into the next section of the song and it does sound more interesting and suspenseful than the original song on the Blur album. It sounds a touch more interesting and Psychedelic than what you’d expect. There are some different structures and samples in this one, with some processed guitar sounds towards the middle of the track, which sound like a sugar or caffeine rush to the brain. The next section of the song follows, and some rather ear-piercing sounds are present throughout this track. It is difficult to know what to think of this particular track. On one hand, it is a good effort with what has been put in, but then again, why remix a rather ordinary song such as this one? In the second half are Damon Albarn’s lone vocals from the song with no delay, just from the original track, followed quickly by the elements of the song remixed to full effect. The elements and Damon’s vocals flow in and out of individual structures, but although this is a good listen, it is by no means spectacular. A nine-minute remix is difficult to get through of a lesser Blur song. The end has the beats from the song and other individual noises. It’s okay but barely passes in terms of the overall grade.
Death Of A Party – Billy Whiskers Mix begins with the crunchy guitar melody from the start of the track, followed by some interestingly mixed sounds to follow. Shortly into it, the majority of the remix kicks in. This is a definite improvement on this hit-and-miss album, and it just sounds really different and well delivered. Perhaps this entire album in general would have benefitted from some gentle editing of the length of the songs. In any case, this is a fairly good listening experience and has some interesting editing throughout of the original elements of the song. It sounds a little eerie more so than the original and feels more naked musically as a result. A fairly decent remix, but still it feels a little difficult to get through at times, given the nature of this album. It has a sample of an earlier Blur song, Lot 106, at the end of it, before ending with the piece slowing down and stopping. It’s okay, but nothing spectacular.
Theme From Retro – John McEntire’s Mix begins with some rushing drumbeats and strange sounds, which are quite exciting listening. This continues on for some time, alternating with beats. A deep bassline then enters, along with some cleverly picked Electronic sounds, including an organ in the background. This is a definite improvement overall, just sounding nice and cleverly done. It has some different and original sounds here that make it definitely different. The beats and bass are nicely mixed with a sweep effect, before returning. No vocals on this one, and it sounds completely different to the original. Some loose guitar parts follow, and this track is a really interesting listen. Hard to believe that this is at all similar to the original, it doesn’t sound so. The beats, melodies, bassline and sonic textures are very superb and different. A cool and nicely crafted listen
Death Of A Party – 12″ Death is yet another remix of this song, which has the intro riff and some interesting percussion to match. It quickly launches into a fairly interesting remix that stays quite close to the original structure of the track. It sounds really quite decent and amazing and is a good remix of the song from the Blur album. Bongos and other Electronic sounds are incorporated into the mix, along with a better sonic approach that in some ways, is better than the original track. Good if you want to hear something more different and eclectic than the original song. A really suspenseful, clever and well thought out remix that sounds really awesome and wonderful listening as an alternative to the original track. Of course, some may prefer the original but nonetheless, this is a cool effort. In the second half are some excellent warped effects on the main melodies which deserve attention, followed by marching drum beat styled sounds. Very clever and interesting to hear, this is a great sounding piece of music. It sounds warped, energetic and exciting. Towards the end is some rushing outer space styled sounds to match the remix, before it gradually concludes. Nice job by Adrian Sherwood.
On Your Own – Walter Wall Remix is a 15-minute long remix. Seriously. It begins with robotic Electronic beeps, before having a similarly robotic cut-up melody. Damon Albarn’s harmonies enter, and we quickly get underway with a fast 4/4 kick drum beat. This piece eventually gets going with some hard and fast Electronic sounds, followed by some Roland 808 style beats. The guitars and other melodies enter in the background, sounding very similar to the other On Your Own remix on this album. Some rushing and banging beats additionally enter, which sound frenetic, interesting and cool. Further singing enters in the background, and this sounds odd. There is an interesting section of just pure beats next before the singing and melodies re-enter. Some interesting changes then occur, followed by many dynamic changes with some cut-up sounds that are actually very driving and cool. This is obviously a good piece of clever remixing that is actually well worth hearing. Think of Blur meeting a lengthy minimal Techno mix, and you are pretty much there. The melodies from the song remain in the background throughout as many wacky, interesting and musically intellectual changes throughout, which are often beyond human description. About halfway through, the song melodies are brought to the forefront, before other interesting musical sections arrive that are cut up, quirky and above all, Electronic. The verses then enter with guitars, and this piece sounds really wonderful indeed. The Electronic sounds then gradually re-enter as the main chorus of the song plays through in this wonderful mix. A very intellectual and clever piece of great music, this is super catchy and interesting. Worth a listen? Yes, it is, if you want to hear a good 15-minute remix of Blur. Some of the mind-blowing sounds and sound effects in the second half, on Damon Albarn’s vocals and those that are added to the mix, are really excellent. It then quickly launches into the section from the previous remix of this song, also by William Orbit, before continuing to progress along with some great editing. This gets increasingly wacky and energetic towards the end and even breaks down into a digital climax right at the end. This is followed by random cut-up Electronic sounds that are really top. It concludes with cut-up Acid sounds and interesting beats, followed by delayed vocal samples. Great stuff.
Popscene – Live At Peel Acres begins the much shorter live part of the album. It begins with delayed, watery guitars and Blur get going fairly quickly. This is a short three-minute long piece that is rather catchy. It sounds a lot like a Punk piece and is really impressive and decent listening. A short, sharp and interesting listen by Blur. Awesome and fast-paced listening, this is underrated and very, very good. Great to hear from start to finish. Graham Coxon plays his Fender Telecaster very well on this half of the album. It ends with loud feedback style guitars.
Song 2 – Live At Peel Acres begins with the legendary drum beat, before quickly launching into a rather awful rendition of the original song. Perhaps autotune was used on Damon Albarn’s vocals during the chorus of the original song? It doesn’t sound as good as it could be otherwise, sadly for this reason. Pretty awful, to be fair.
On Your Own – Live At Peel Acres begins with the interesting keyboard sounds and quickly follows with the processed guitar parts. Good to hear this go along nicely as a live piece. It is very close to the Poppiness of the original song, just sounding slightly rawer than the version on the Blur album. Damon Albarn sings much better here on this song compared to the last piece on the second album. It sounds loud, punchy and Rocking as a song. This is proof that, for the most part, Blur could cut it better as a live unit than their rival contemporaries Oasis. Great listening, just before the era of digital autotune took over. A really catchy and interesting listen. These guys may not have been the best band of the 1990s, but they prove their worth on this live song. The sounds towards the end are manic.
Chinese Bombs – Live At Peel Acres begins with the super-fast guitar riff, and honestly sounds out of place on this live set. It is a weird and odd song to be here, and although is okay here, it probably shouldn’t be on this CD. Short and sharp, but over before you know it.
Movin’ On – Live At Peel Acres begins with the loud feedback-laden guitars, before launching into the guitar and keyboard riff-driven song. This is a fairly good rendition of the original tune on this album, and just sounds really well done and effortlessly delivered. It is a wonderful and punchy delivery for such a song. It is fairly naff as an original song but is performed very well on this live second half of this album. Short, once again, but over before you know it. The outro has frenzied guitars and pounding drums.
M.O.R. – Live At Peel Acres follows and is the last song on this double album. It begins with manic guitars, Damon Albarn’s call-and-response vocals and pounding rhythms. Once again, this is quite good and sounds very close to the original song. A good and exciting listen to finish off this rather lengthy album and finishes off a good effort of a record that is a fairly mixed bag. Very well performed and played in a live setting, and Blur does what they do very well. Frenzied and powerful.
This double album is an oddity in Blur’s back catalogue and shows two completely different sides to the group. The first side of the album is a hit-and-miss collaboration project of remixing Blur tunes that honestly needs either a lot of patience or track skipping. The second half of the album is a fairly good live performance of the band in response. Is it worth hearing? Only if you really like Blur’s music and to be honest, this otherwise is somewhat of a letdown. Nice to see this rarity of an album is now on Spotify, however. The cover of the album is very much like the Yes album Fragile and makes one wonder if Blur were ever sued by Yes because of it. A definite hit and miss affair that raises some questions for fans of the group.
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