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New Faces: Blur

Meet the new 'Leisure' class

Blur at the Reading Festival in the United Kingdom.
Mick Hutson/Redferns
February 6, 1992

"This is a new era – bands are less motivated by their place in history than by everything around them, and it all links to English pop culture," says Blur singer Damon Albarn. "But it's very high up, suffering from vertigo." The band has only just flown into New York from England and, with nary a pause, been shuttled to SBK's forty-third-floor offices. Exhausted, the jet-lagged Albarn and company are understandably less than lucid.

Blur was formed in London by Albarn and an old school chum, guitarist Graham Coxon, with one of Coxon's fellow art students, bassist Alex James, and drummer Dave Rowntree. After playing a few rudimentary yet influential gigs, they signed with Food Records, which issued their first single, "She's So High"/"I Know." The single reached Number Two on the indie chart. Their album, Leisure,with its moody batch of English-psychedelic but beat-heavy pop, entered the British charts at Number Seven.

Blur's surprising success is right in line with what Albarn describes as the band's "quiet subversion." "We confused the press in England," he says. "They really like to get bands for doing things like Top of the Pops, being commercial, but they've always had to meet us because they come to see us live. It's not shocking anymore to be noisy and nasty, and it's kind of frightening to be too commercial. So the only thing that's left is to try to get everyone together."

This story is from the February 6th, 1992 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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