The secret history of Blur's Parklife album
7 November 2020, 12:00
Here's a stack of facts about the classic album that will give you an enormous sense of well-being.
The greyhounds on the cover are racing in Essex
The front cover of greyhound racing was taken on 2 November 1988 at Romford Stadium, Essex, by sports photographer Bob Thomas. “He couldn’t believe we wanted it for a record cover,” recalled designer Rob O’Connor. “I’m sure if he’d thought about it he’d have asked for a bit more money.” Damon Albarn had been inspired to re-create a betting shop window after wandering past a William Hill’s bookmakers.
The video for the Parklife single is shot in River Way, Greenwich
The photos of Blur at the dogs were taken at Walthamstow Stadium
The band had a launch party for the Parklife album on 15 April 1994. Walthamstow dog track was closed in 2008 and sold to property developers.
Phil Daniels saved the song Parklife with his guest appearance
The Quadrophenia actor was enlisted to appear on The Debt Collector, but Daniels recalls that Albarn was having problems nailing the vocal. He recalled in his autobiography, Class Actor: “I just imagined flowers and parks, and not having too much to do. You never knew exactly what the song was about, and I still don’t - which is part of the magic of it. What I do know is that as soon as it began to get played on the radio, dustmen started apologising for waking me up in the morning.”
The French vocals on To The End are sung by Lætitia Sadier
At the time, Sadier was a member of the London-based electronic pop band Stereolab, who released their third LP Mars Audiac Quintet in August 1994.
The saxophone on the title track is played by Graham Coxon
In the only time he performed with the instrument on a Blur record, he’s actually playing a snatch of the German national anthem as Phil Daniels says “It's got nothing to do with your Vorsprung durch Technik, you know.”
The album’s loose theme was inspired by the 1989 novel London Fields by Martin Amis.
The story tells the tale of American Samson Young, an author who has had writer’s block for 20 years. One line goes: “And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit.”
One line in Girls And Boys is in German: “Du bist sehr schön"
It means “You are very pretty.”
The original title of the album was originally going to be “London”
This title was given to the band by Food Records boss Dave Balfe, which they recall as being one of the last creative decisions he made for Blur before he sold the label. The band subsequently wrote the song Country House about him.
Alex James sings the vocal to Far Out