Best tunes of 2003: #18 Blur “Out of time”

<< #19    |    #17 >>

Blur’s seventh full-length album, “Think tank”, was their first in a large mittful that I didn’t rush out to purchase upon release. I had been a rabid fan for over a decade by this point and loved everything they did but as I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this Best tunes of 2003 series, I didn’t have a lot of disposable funding in the early 2000s and was forced to be excessively discerning in my CD purchases. And though I became familiar with some of its songs*, I didn’t really give the album a good listen until a decade or so later when I purchased it as part of the “21” vinyl box set and really got an understanding for how much I had previously underestimated its value.

Still, it’s a bit of an outlier in their catalogue, being the only album to which founding guitarist Graham Coxon didn’t contribute as a full-time member, only appearing on its final track. He left the group very early on in the recording sessions, after they had started them without him while he recovered in rehab and then, found himself not on the same wavelength as his bandmates**. And while it’s not quite as out there and as experimental as their previous output, “13”, it’s not exactly the accessible pop record that Damon Albarn had promised beforehand. Without Coxon’s influence, “Think tank” really reflects Albarn’s ever changing interests, less focus on guitar and an increased synthetic palette, and of course, it’s painted with a big world music brush.

“Out of time”, just as an example, features an Andalucian string group, a benefit of their having recorded a large part of the album in Marrakesh, Morocco. These strings come in during the latter part of the song, after the rhythm section of Dave Rowntree and Alex James have set the scene with the subdued drum beat and lackadaisical bassline. All the while, Albarn is crooning along to vaguely unintelligible sounds, like he’s performing with an orchestra of ghosts.

“And you’ve been so busy lately
That you haven’t found the time
To open up your mind
And watch the world spinning
Gently out of time“

He is addressing someone, or perhaps a gaggle of someones, who is completely removed from everything else going on in the world and that perhaps that someone is partially and inadvertently contributing to everything that is going on. When the orchestra (of ghosts or of Moroccan musicians) kicks in to gear, it’s like the rest of us should be joining in and rising up together.

*Including this one

**Coxon has, of course, since participated in all of the group’s reunion activities, including the surprise/surprising eighth album, 2015’s “The magic whip”.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.


Vinyl love: Alvvays “Blue rev”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Alvvays
Album Title: Blue rev
Year released: 2022
Details: Clear

The skinny: It had been five years between the release of Alvvays’ sophomore album, “Antisocialites”, and their third album, last year’s “Blue rev”. Thus, even though I’d been following the Toronto-based indie pop group since their early days and have both of their previous records on my shelves, I didn’t jump on the pre-order train for this one right away. I wouldn’t say I had tired of them or gone off the band in any way but perhaps just wary, taking a wait and see approach. Any hesitation melted away, though, when I gave “Blue rev” a go shortly after its release last October and I was more than pleasantly surprised at the group’s leaps and bounds to escape their allotted pigeonholes. I ordered a copy off Pop Music Toronto’s online store because they had a few of the clear pressings released by the group’s own Canadian-based label Celsius Girls on their virtual shelf. The album ended up placing at number two on Billboard my end of the year album list for 2022 and this record continues to be one I return to my turntable often.

Standout track: “After the earthquake”


Eighties’ best 100 redux: #95 The Nails “88 lines about 44 women” (1982)

<< #96    |    #94 >>

After all the talk about “99 luftballons” appearing at spot #98 on this list (close call, that one), I found myself looking ahead to see where The Nails’ “88 lines about 44 women” would land. As you can imagine, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief that it’s not track #88 but arriving a bit earlier at spot #95.

Nonetheless, I’m sure you’ll remember this one.

Of course, you do. If not when it was first released, you definitely would have heard it when it enjoyed a resurgence due to its use in a Mazda car commercial in the late nineties. If you’re not convinced, here’s said commercial:

The Nails were a 6-piece American new wave band that got a surprise hit out of this very track. It was first released on a 1982 EP called “Hotel for women” and then re-recorded for their debut LP “Mood swing” in 1984. They released another album two years later and then, recorded another that was released without the band’s approval in 1993. Both of The Nails’ proper albums were critically acclaimed but the band was never able break the “novelty” die cast by “88 lines”. To be honest, this is the only song by The Nails I have ever heard but from what I can gather, their other work is much darker than this.

“88 lines about 44 women” has always been a guilty/not guilty pleasure of mine and always reminds me of my friend Zed and dancing at retro night at Whiskey Saigon. It’s not only just a fun song to bop along to but it also has smart and funny lyrics: 44 rhyming couplets, each about a different woman, many of whom I think I would have been interested in meeting (and some, perhaps not). If you’ve never had a good listen to the lyrics, pay attention when you press play below.

Original Eighties best 100 position: #96

Favourite lyric:  “Terri didn’t give a shit / was just a nihilist”… We believe nothing, Lebowski!

Where are they now?: The Nails officially broke up many moons ago but frontman Marc Campbell released a solo album called “Tantric machine” in 2010.

For the rest of the Eighties’ best 100 redux list, click here.