Modern Life is Rubbish - Blur
Produced by Blur, Stephen Street, Steve Lovell and John Smith
Released 10th May 1993
UK Chart #15
So, the debut album Leisure is quite successful but the band experienced a bit of a media backlash not long after its release and they got a bit stroppy when returning from a bit of an unsuccessful tour of the States to discover that Suede seemed to have stolen their limelight! The band were in danger of being dropped from their label Food after the poor sales of the singles Bang and, what they thought was going to be their best one ever, Popscene. Add to that poor live performances due to drunkeness, one in particular playing on the same bill as Suede!
With such a sense of woe close by the band did what it needed to do to stay alive and went for a bit of an extreme makeover remoulding themselves as a very English band incorporating influences from the likes of The Kinks and the Small Faces...not out and out Mods, but bordering on the fence!
This photo may look harmless enough but Blur dressed in a mix of mod and skinhead attire, posing alongside a mastiff with the words "British Image 1" spraypainted behind them was maybe not a good idea! At the time, such imagery was viewed as nationalistic and racially insensitive by the British music press (even Morrissey had come under fire for his use of skinhead and nationalist images as recently as 1992 at Madstock); to quieten concerns, Blur released the "British Image 2" photo, which was "a camp restaging of a pre-war aristocratic tea party".
It was a wonder that the album ever came out at all as first producer Andy Partridge of XTC fame managed to get four songs out of the band before they got fed up with him and Stephen Street was brought back in to produce only to have the label hand back the album in December 1992 saying there were no songs that could be released as singles. Add to that their American Label SBK wanted them to ditch Street altogether and re-record the whole album with Butch Vig at the controls (which the band categorically rejected)!
But it did finally surface and whilst not a massive seller reaching only #15 on the UK album chart (it was a disaster in the US selling only 19,000 copies!) but it did lay the ground work for two of their finest albums in Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995) - both #1 albums!