The band’s fifth album, featuring singles including as ‘Song 2’ and ‘Beetlebum’, was characterised by its aggression and heightened emotion in comparison to their previous work.
Coxon was the main member of the band pushing for a stylistic change and detailed in a new interview with Mojo how he tried to make that happen.
“I decided to write a letter to Damon because I wasn’t confident enough to broach conversations about my needs. It was something like: ‘I’d like to start scaring people again, because at the start, we were into unease, songs like ‘Oily Water’ and ‘Resigned’. Let’s make a bloody row, and have fun’,” he recalled.
“I didn’t get much of a reaction, but Damon did give me the steering wheel a little more. I think he was sympathetic, and keen, for everyone to express themselves, and for me to have moments to mess around with noise. I wanted to see what the guitar could do without much intervention from me.
“But Damon knows that when it comes to enveloping his voice in something beautiful, I can do that too. But Blur does get called a ‘Graham album’ a lot, because of things like ‘Essex Dogs’.”
He continued: “We felt forced into this strange Britpop thing, which we had nothing to do with, but I suppose we tried to kill any stink of Britpop from our clothes and move away from our beloved Kinks – though there was still Bowie, because of Damon and [producer] Stephen Street. I think we found our own heavy psychedelia, rather than staying with Toad-of-Toad-Hall psychedelia.
“I don’t know what concerns EMI had, because they loved ‘Song 2’, which we had played them for a laugh. We had ‘Beetlebum’ too. We did ‘Strange News From Another Star’ for a lark, and maybe a B-side, but [Food label boss] Andy Ross wanted it on the album. It’s an unfocused album but each song has its own personality, which can be tricky to achieve.
“If anyone was going to have a go at a Blur album, it would have been this one, because of its self-indulgent moments. I can’t recall how it was reviewed, or particularly liked, but it came from an authentic place, and then it’s hard to rip it to shreds. Authenticity is an amazing force field!”
“They had one or two great tunes, but we had twelve. However loud they were, we were louder. However fast they were, we were faster. However good they were, we would trump it.
“They were all great bands, but we were better. It was as simple as that.”