20 Years Ago Today, Blur Released Their Historic “Parklife” Album

Certified four times platinum in the United Kingdom, Blur’s career-defining Parklife album released on April 25, 1994 came to define the emerging Britpop scene, along with the album Definitely Maybe by rivals Oasis. Britpop in turn would form the backbone of the broader Cool Britannia movement. Parklife quickly attained a cultural significance above and beyond its considerable sales and critical acclaim, cementing its status as a landmark in British rock music.

To celebrate the album here are fun facts about Parklife!

1. The band was nearly broke at the end of their tour to promote their 2nd album, Modern Life Is Rubbish. Due to their precarious financial position at the time, Blur quickly went back into the studio with producer Stephen Street to record their third album.

2. While the members of Blur were pleased with the final result, Food Records owner David Balfe was not happy with the record, telling the band’s management “This is a mistake”. Soon afterwards, Balfe sold Food to EMI.

3. Lead singer Damon Albarn says “For me, Parklife is like a loosely linked concept album involving all these different stories. It’s the travels of the mystical lager-eater, seeing what’s going on in the world and commenting on it.”

4. Even Noel Gallagher dug the album. Parklife was, “Like Southern England personified.”

5. The album was originally going to be entitled London and the album cover shot was going to be of a fruit-and-vegetable cart. Albarn stated, “That was the last time that Dave Balfe was, sort of, privvy to any decision or creative process with us, and that was his final contribution: to call it London.”

6. Parklife’s cover refers to the British pastime of greyhound racing.

7. Most of the pictures in the CD booklet are of the band in the greyhound racing venue Walthamstow Stadium, although the actual cover was not shot there.

8. The album cover for Parklife was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Classic Album Cover” postage stamps issued in January 2010.

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9. Parklife remains one of the most acclaimed albums of the 1990s, released in April 1994, debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts. The album stayed on the chart for 90 weeks. It didn’t do as well in the US, though, charting at number 6 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers album chart.

10. The British press was over the moon for the record, with NME calling it “a great pop record”, adding “On paper it sounds like hell, in practice it’s joyous.” US music critic Robert Christgau, though wrote that the only good song on the album was “Girls & Boys”.

11. The album was nominated to the 1995 Mercury Prize, but it lost to M People’s Elegant Slumming.

12. Charting at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart, “Girls & Boys” was Blur’s first top 5 hit and their most successful single until “Country House” reached number 1 the following year.

13. The video, directed by Kevin Godley, featured Blur performing the song against a bluescreen backdrop of documentary footage of people on Club 18-30 package holidays. Godley branded the video as “Page 3 rubbish” while Blur found it “perfect”.

14. In 2003, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke confessed on BBC Radio 1 that he wished he had written the song, jokingly calling Blur “bastards” for writing it first.

15. In the song “End Of A Century”, the opening line, “she said there’s ants in the carpet”, refers to an infestation of ants that Albarn and his then-girlfriend Justine Frischmann suffered in their then-home in Kensington.

16. “Parklife”, the single, is narrated by actor Phil Daniels, who also appears in the song’s music video. Daniels’ starred in The Who’s Quadrophenia film.

17. Ever wondered where the whole Oasis Vs. Blur fued started? It might have been with this song. At the 1996 BRIT Awards, the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, Liam and Noel, taunted Blur by singing a drunk rendition of “Parklife” (with Liam changing the lyrics to “Shite-life” and Noel shouting “Marmite”) when the members of Oasis were collecting the “Best British Album” award, which both bands had been nominated for.

18. Parklife was performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

19. “To The End” features full orchestral accompaniment with a choric refrain in French by Lætitia Sadier from Stereolab.

20. “This Is A Low” is likely, though, their most-beloved song. It was the final song at Blur’s most famous concert, Mile End stadium gig of 1995, as well as Glastonbury 1994, and as their first reunited performance as Blur at the 2009 NME Awards.