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There’s a reason they call it Brit-pop. For the last decade, Blur have been making some of the most intriguing pop music around, most of which has been distinctly influenced by the British pop trends of the past. From the Madchester-inspired groove of early hits like “There’s No Other Way” to the Europop dance sound of “Girls And Boys,” the Madness-inspired beer hall romp “Park Life,” or the extremely Beatlesque “Country House” and “Charmless Man,” Blur have always taken distinctly British sounds and made them their own. What’s striking is that through all of their ever-changing moods, they’ve always come across as a solid and stable unit – despite wearing their influences on their sleeves, at the core, they’ve always sounded like Blur. It’s this quality that puts them leagues ahead of arch-rivals Oasis in my book; where the Gallaghers are content to mindlessly ape the Beatles for eternity, Blur are more interested in taking their influences as a starting point to do something uniquely their own.

This collection does a fine job of showcasing Blur’s many styles of pop. Two discs capture the band in distinctly different settings. The first disc includes all the hits, 18 tracks including their biggest American hit, “Song 2.” The second is a live disc recorded in late December at Wembley Arena. The live disc is surprisingly low-key, focusing more on the quiet songs like “End of a Century” and “To The End.” While good, Blur is best showcased on singles, and the first disc does this admirably.

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